“Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. I cried out to the Lord in my suffering, and he heard me. He set me free from all my fears.”
Yesterday was one of those hard days. A day when the grief comes rushing back, making the loss and pain palpable once again. Almost as raw and fresh as it was during the initial tragedy. We call these times “grief bursts.” They can surprise you and unravel your heart-earned balance… because “after you have suffered a little while” (1 Peter 5:10), a “new normal,” a new rhythm does develop. Time may not heal all, but the pain is neither as cutting nor as pervasive as new joy and new experiences are birthed, shared, and nurtured.
I cried out to the Lord yesterday… both literally (and tears don’t come easily to me anymore) and in the puzzlement suffering forms. The new companion of questioning that can take up residence after a crisis. It doesn’t always show itself but somewhere deep down, in the back of the mind, it resides and waits and then pounces… sending a normal day spiraling into a trying one where all that has been learned and gained in the midst of the trial and subsequent restoration is thrown into question.
My questions yesterday were some familiar ones… but can you relate to how, on certain days, they just seem insurmountable, when you lived among them just fine the day before?
“If our days are numbered and our times are in God’s hands, then does God allow or even orchestrate sin and brokenness such as a medical error (in our son Warren’s case) or a drunk driver or a drowning to usher in His will?” “How do I reconcile God’s sovereignty and plans for our lives in a world that is tainted by sin resulting from the Fall of man?” “Or does God allow sin and its fall-out because it results from his desire to be in relationship with Adam and Eve and to give them the choice to obey or sin, and then He comes in afterwards to work all together for His good? Using for good what Satan intended for evil?”
I imagine many of you ask similar questions or have your own questions that at times bring you closer to God and at other times seem to haunt you and drive that wedge. For my doubts, I plan to finally pull out my copy of Randy Alcorn’s If God is Good, trusting he lends compelling insights. But first, someone encouraged me to simply ask God for an answer… something to bring some peace, some calm. Because this has been provided before, I know it can come again. I needed an answer from my living and active God who can show Himself to me in different ways on different days, all stemming from His unchanging nature and presence.
And today the answer came, as it often does… in a still, small voice… through an inner impression that could only originate from God’s Spirit.
“Mary Elizabeth, set your mind on things above.”
The answer did not necessarily include an additional focus on my original questions and doubt, nor did it directly answer each question in the way my finite mind works… Rather the answer came with a nudge, with a shift. Shifting my heart and setting my mind on things above. The hope of a true, lasting, untainted, eternal home in heaven. Where a place has been prepared for us. A desire to focus on godly traits and actions such as love, grace, service, the fruit of the Spirit… Things that are not seen but are unseen; attitudes and actions that make an eternal investment.
His grace is sufficient. He gives us nourishing, daily bread. Today, this answer was enough. But the greater lesson is that God desires us to come back tomorrow for more. For the manna only He can provide as we pray for the ability to set our hearts and minds on what is true, on what only can come from above. As the opening verse states, the Lord is the One capable of transforming suffering into radiance.
In closing, I want to share a poignant and moving “answer” from my friends, Katherine and Jay Wolf (as many of you know, I LOVE their blog and ministry, Hope Heals):
“We see humanity with different eyes when we recognize that we may be asked, like Christ, to sacrifice things we hold dear so that someone else, perhaps someone we will never know, might find the hope that they need. Are we willing to lay down on altars or hospital beds, enduring all manner of loss, so that something truly lost might be found, so that someone might be beloved? This is our calling—to play our role in divine appointments, to be vessels overflowing with hope.”
Additional thoughts and “answers” to come…
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
|Maddie (Meade's mom) reading to Daniel during a recent visit.|
|The boys looking at one of their faithful prayer warrior's picture via email ("Uncle George").|