When the grief is deep and hope is dim

Sometimes, trouble lingers. Sometimes we teeter on the edge of Sheol, fall into the pit, and lack strength. The words and feelings that fill our souls are: DEAD, in the grave, no more, cut off, depths, DARK and deep. Things lie heavy and overwhelm. We are SHUNNED, horrified, helpless, filled with SORROW and cannot escape. Wrath, destruction and darkness abound.

The grief was deep and hope was dim for the psalmist who wrote Psalm 88. He questions God in his despair (vs 10, 11). He acknowledges the sovereignty that allows the trial: “You (God) have caused” and “Your wrath.” But implied throughout the psalm is the understanding that the God who allows sorrow is the same God who brings victory.

Unlike most other Psalms, this lament does not build to a conclusion of confident joy and praise. This one ends in pain. The victory has yet to come. Hope has yet to burst through the clouds, making this Psalm resonate deeply with those of us still waiting.

  • …still waiting for the prodigal to return or the Pharisee to repent.
  • …still waiting for healing and relief.
  • …still waiting for restoration and transformation.

Where is our hope?

Despite the Psalmist’s grief he does not forget with who his hope remains.

  • “O Lord,” he writes, “God of my salvation.”
  • “I call upon you, O Lord.”
  • “I spread my hands before You.”
  • “I cry out to You.”
  • “My prayers come before You.”

Our hope, in the darkest of grief and in the unrelenting pain of delays, is in the Lord. Hold firm and hold fast.

 

 

More Than This

“There has to be more to it than this.”

Have you ever sat in a church pew and thought that? I have. I remember it clearly. I had lost the passion and urgency of that early blazing faith. I had swallowed lies one spoonful at a time and became good for nothing. I had lost my zeal. Lost my passion. Lost my first love.

I moved through unsatisfying Sunday motions even as my husband trained for ministry and served on church staff. I wondered, what was the point? If this was all there was to following Jesus, it wasn’t enough.

It’s Not Enough

Have you been there? Have you visited that apathetic place hovering between hypocrisy and duty all dressed up like a whitewashed tomb?

By God’s mercy, He opened my eyes and I saw my faith dried into a shallow pool of activity. I was busy for the Lord, real busy. I was doing good things, but had missed the best things. I was right. This wasn’t enough.

Called to More

God has called us to more. He has called us to passionately pursue Him with everything and be willing to pay anything. He has revealed himself to be worthy of all of our praise. Everything that is in the heavens and on the earth belongs to Him. He is head over all, reigns with majesty and strength, and will not be moved. There is none like him, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders. He deserves all of our heart but what do we do when our empty hearts cease to care?

We ask the Lord to do what only he can do. In obedience, we continue to come before him, confessing our need for him to ignite our passion. We confess our lack of desire and inability to create desire. We declare our dependance on Him over and over again until He does what He promises He will do: until He reveals Himself.

PRAY

Lord, you said if we seek you that we would find you, so give us the desire to seek you. As our bodies thirst for water would you stir a greater thirst for You. As we nourish the physical would you grow a greater hunger to feast on your Word. Would you open eyes that need opening that lost souls might turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to You? If we want forgiveness from our sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ, we need you to impress upon our hearts a desire to repent from our lack of desire. Our hope is in You, Lord. We are nothing without you. You must do this work. It is by your mighty hand. We are clay in your hands completely at your mercy. Have your way in us.

Don’t let another Easter go by swimming in the shallow pool of religion. It’s time to dive into the depths of God’s love and learn His ways. If you don’t have a church family, you are welcome to join ours to celebrate Easter. We meet at Brantford Christian School (7 Calvin Street, Brantford).

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Nail-Pierced Tires

He propped those screws right up against the tire. Three times, they punctured. Three times, we limped our way to the mechanic for a patch. Three times, he saw the damage, the inconvenience, the interruption to our day, but never connected his action to the events until the mechanic handed over the screw.

The brother encourages him to tell, because “it is always better to tell,” instinctively knowing that confession is good for the soul.

He scrounged up all the courage his little frame could muster and spoke the hard-honest truth. It was his fault.

My heart swelled at his courage, his decision to speak Slide1and believe what we have been repeating for years.

Our family…

…says what we’re sorry for…

…never stays angry…

forgives.

With trembling lips, he waited to see if our mantra was true. Fearful eyes understood what we didn’t need to say. This was big—bigger than anything he could fix on his own. Worse still, he had no excuse or reason. Equal measures of boredom and curiosity set the plan into motion. Forgiveness, should he receive it, was undeserved, unmerited, and unearned.

Undeserved. He punctured those tires as much as my sin punctured the hands and feet of my Lord. We are both stained with sin.

Unmerited. Grace is the unmerited favour of God toward me. Grace is the best response to his hard-honest confession. He might not deserve it, but one thing I know for sure is that I certainly don’t, yet here I am, drenched in God’s grace.

Unearned. Even with all the coins in his piggy bank, he couldn’t pay for those three patches. It had to be done for him. And even with all of humanity’s good works stacked from bottom to top, the price of sin is still more. It has to be paid for us, for me.

Together we stand as recipients of undeserved, unmerited and unearned forgiveness. Praise the Lord!

*from the archives

The reminder that we all need

This is for the one buckling under bad news. This is for the one who tugs her sleeves over the track marks of her past. This is for all of us limping barefoot down the broken and narrow road. This is for me. This is for you.

The Lord is everlasting to everlasting, the first and the last, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, who calls, adopts, brings to repentance, and clothes the filthy and unclean in robes of righteousness.

You invite the wretched to come. You take all that is true in the enemy’s taunts and place it upon Jesus. In the greatest exchange known to mankind, You take my sin and You give me Christ. I can’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, but you do it anyway. You are for me. Your plans are good for me, even when this busted world makes the opposite seem true. Your Word promises that beauty will rise from the ashes of disappointment and heartache.

The Gospel for Every Day

The gospel truth is life-changing not only in that first moment of salvation, but in every moment that follows. The gospel truth matters today because I need You today just as much as I needed You yesterday and just as much as I will need You tomorrow. The gospel is good news for the guilty, good news in the mundane, and good news for the shamed. It is good news for every day.

The gospel truth declares me clean, holy, righteous, and able to stand before You, Lord, because Jesus makes it possible. I approach Your throne with confidence knowing You hear my prayers, have gone before me and walk beside me even now.

Enough

You are good even when life is not. And when the shame of my sin, the weight of my guilt, the hugeness of my needs overwhelm me, You remind me that you are enough. You are more than able to cover my sin, remove my shame and meet every need perfectly. I praise You, Lord. In all the earth there is none like You.

The end of the story

When I don’t know how this trial ends I will remember how this story ends. You are victorious. Nothing can steal victory from You and from all who believe in You. And I belong to You. I am cupped in the palm of Your hand and no one can steal me from You. Thank you, Lord!

I am

I lift dirty hands and yield a wretched heart. My righteousness shrivels into filthy rags. My heart is full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and maliciousness. I am a gossip, a slanderer, a hater of God, insolent, haughty, and an inventor of evil. I am disobedient, foolish, faithless, heartless, and ruthless. I am a truth suppressor without excuse and with a darkened heart[i]. I am dust, nothing, apart from God. This is who I am.

Until I meet the great I AM

The creator and sustainer of life comes to me. The redeemer, the one who parts the waters and turns water into wine, the one who causes the blind to see opens my eyes. The rock of my salvation turns my heart of stone into a heart of flesh. He walks on water. He heals diseases. He has authority over darkness and evil and raises the dead to life. He is unlimited in power and unequaled in majesty. He is my refuge, my hope, and my deliverer. He is the one who multiples fish and loaves, who the wind and waves obey, and who knows hunger, weariness, and temptation yet remains without sin. He is my Saviour.

Fully knowing who I am, He imputes the righteousness of Christ upon me. The GREAT I AM no longer sees my sin. It is gathered in the wind and blown away. God sees his beloved Son standing in my place.

Praise the Lord!

 

[i] https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2010/08/27/what-are-we-apart-fro-christ/

He makes all things new

I’m spending today before my Lord in quiet, in worship, and in His Word. As my mom prepares to go into surgery the Lord takes me to Revelation 21 and I am in awe of His unending mercy toward all who call upon His name.

I dwelt on the new heaven and the new earth, the holy city prepared as a bride, where God dwells with man, and God wipes every tear from our eyes. Death will be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain—for they have passed away.

A voice from the throne declares, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Here, there is no need for the moon or the sun for the glory of God gives light and its lamp is the Lamb.

All this awaits if your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life.

As the heavy decay of fallen life increases with each rotation of the earth, the blessed truth of Revelation 21 breathes fresh hope in Jesus. There will be no more tears in hospital waiting rooms or funeral homes. Loved ones will no loner pass away because death itself will pass away. All things will be new for those whose name is written in the Lamb’s book of life because God says they will.

No matter how today ends, this truth remains: God is making all things new. With a heart full of thankfulness, I praise the Lord!

 

*adapted from the archives