“Out of the depths I cry to You, O LORD;
O Lord, hear my voice. Let Your ear be
attentive to my cry for mercy.”
Dear praying friends,
I’m sitting right now with the window open behind me as I write. It’s Saturday night and things are relatively quiet, at least quiet enough for me to hear my own thoughts (this doesn’t happen too often in a household with four teenagers, a pre-teen boy and his 19-week-old puppy—a neat God-story here, but more about that in a later entry). It’s also quiet enough to hear the distant rumble of thunder as another storm front moves into our area bringing the beginnings of a gentle patter of rain.
In checking the pulse of my life lately, I’d say it’s been a hard couple of weeks and an emotionally draining day with my kids. I’m tired of hearing arguing and complaining (guess I’m the one complaining right now!) and I long for more meaningful time with them than watching a far-from-meaningful movie which we did tonight.
Finally, after the kids have settled down in their rooms, I sit down and open my Bible and one of my old art journals. I’m asking the Lord for some encouragement. I’ve longed for this quiet right now, but sometimes the very silence I’ve desired is painful. I miss the sound of Chris’s voice. I miss hearing him read the Word, share a story about his work, or even talk on the phone to someone he’s called to give encouragement, even though he often needed it himself. Particularly in the painful absence of his voice, I especially want to hear my Father’s voice.
As I flipped open my art journal my eyes fell upon this quote (from Larry Crabb’s Shattered Dreams):
My problem with God becomes apparent when long-held and deeply cherished dreams are shattered and He does nothing. And those are good dreams, not dreams of riches and fame, but dreams of decent health for those I love and for good relationships among family and friends.
And then follows my notes:
Thoughts on this statement? Okay, I know in my head these words are true. When I long for good things and God denies them, and I react by pulling away, even if ever so slightly from the Lord, the problem lies clearly with me. If I react however, not by pulling back from my God, but instead draw near, even if I am confused, frustrated, discouraged, sad, or even depressed, I am not sinning then, am I?
I want to have the right heart response, but can’t always see things with clear eyes of faith. In fact, most of the time, my faith is so small. I do feel like a bruised reed or a smoldering wick at times. I know in His Word God says He will not crush the bruised reed or put out the smoldering wick (Isaiah 42:3-4). My head clings to this promise, but I certainly don’t feel it my heart very often!
Will You ever grant, dear Lord, that I may both rest in Your promises, settled in my mind over them, AND quieted in my soul by them? Is it too much to ask that I feel Your nearness in those tumultuous and dark moments?
I did get discouraged today. I even grumbled in my heart to the Lord about why certain things happened the way they did today. Not only that, but I’ve recently received such heavy news of others I love facing grave trials and through many tears have asked the Lord why He has allowed these dear friends, His children, to experience such difficult circumstances. Larry Crabb’s quote reminded me tonight, however, that my frustration, doubt and discouragement over broken dreams, even for good things when God gives no reply, are problems with me not with Him.
Deuteronomy 32:3-4 says, “For I proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God; He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.” All of God’s ways are right; He can do no wrong.
When something I long for is denied—like children who are content and peaceable, or my friends’ miraculous healing or their problem to go away—does this change God’s goodness? Does this signal that any trust I put in Him is misplaced? As Paul might say, “May it never be!” God would cease to be God if He did not have complete authority over my life, demonstrated in perfect holiness.
“What do I do then, Lord, with my heart?” I’ve come to the realization that I often feel pretty helpless, and discouragement doesn’t always “Poof!” vanish. Every night John and I enjoy praying together, but I often get teary-eyed as we pray, yes, in gratitude for God’s amazing love for us in Christ, but also because our world is broken.
And then tonight, as I read in Hebrews 4:15-16 I was encouraged: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” ~Hebrews 4:15-16
I’m thankful that nowhere in the scriptures has God asked me to come to Him all put together, with rock-solid faith and perfect obedience.
When I am tempted to discouragement by the presence of arguing or complaining from my children, by the aching silence of Chris’s absence, or by seeing the suffering my dear friends are experiencing, God promises to give grace to help me believe what is true and trust in His goodness. He is there to help me stop my grumbling and doubting. My confidence doesn’t lie in how I am feeling at any given moment, but in the fact that He has promised to give generously of Himself!
Well, as I’ve been sitting here and writing, the storm outside has arrived in full force, with crashing thunder and torrential rain, rather simultaneously echoing the storm in my own heart as once again I’ve been seeking God’s answers for my questions and listening for His voice. He has not let me down, nor has He been silent.
And now, even as He has given me His peace and calmed my heart again, the storm has passed. The thunder has ceased and the heavy rains are pouring down no more. Thank You, Lord.
Thankful, as always, for your prayers for all of us; God is good…all the time,
PS, dear praying friends, I would be most grateful for your prayers for my longtime friend, Sono Harris, wife of Gregg Harris and amazing godly mother to six children, three of whom are married with families of their own. She was recently diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer which has spread to her liver and part of her lungs. She and Gregg are tremendous examples of joy and trust in the Lord, and Sono is aggressively fighting the cancer with alternative therapies and diet. May it be God’s gracious will to bring complete healing to Sono and much glory to His name. Thank you for joining me in prayer!