Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Note of Encouragement

Right now my heart is grieved for dear ones around me dealing with devastation, those engulfed in the throws of battle. I had no idea a simple blog about our Terrible Tuesday and the tiny mishaps of my day would usher responses from those simply overcome by their own circumstances. And yet it's all a reminder to me of the war that rages all around us. 

What happens when life is devastating? What do you do when the bottom violently crashes from underneath where you once securely stood? How can we look to a sovereign God and trust that He works all things for our good when everything we face is nothing short of catastrophic?

Where are You, Lord? What about when the ache in our souls is so deep it causes literal physical pain? When our minds can't make sense of the circumstances, when we're so grief stricken by the failure and frailty of flesh, are You still here? Are You still faithful to complete the work You began despite man's efforts to destroy everything we've diligently worked to build?

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:3

There's hope and encouragement to not grow weary, but that often seems impossible given our overwhelming state. We're told not to lose heart yet the very heart within us has been pulverized alongside our crushed spirit. 
It's hard to see past our own heartache until we consider what He endured - then understand that He went through it all for us. There's comfort and promise in this verse recognizing our own Savior was scorned, rejected and ultimately crucified by those who formerly followed Him. There it is. Right in Scripture. The reminder that even our Lord faced the rejection of those closest to Him. 

Whatever you're facing may not even be your fault. You may be the victim of lies, someone else's poor choices, external circumstances impacting you personally. You may have slipped into the snares of the enemy who's been prowling around seeking whomever he could devour. You may have plummeted into the pit your own hands dug. But none of it, no single isolated place you could find yourself in, is separated from the loving reach of God. 

When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2

As impossible as it may seem, nothing is impossible for Him. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly all that we ask, and yet even that hope sometimes causes us to wonder why He's not working it out the way we ask. Our limited earthly view does not afford us the opportunity to see beyond to what He sees. We often get caught up in the temporal and miss the eternal which is where He is ultimately at work. It doesn't mean He wants us to suffer or to endure such heartache in our present earthly state, but it does mean that we often are unaware of the bigger picture of His eternal purposes. 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution...?
"For your sake we face death all day  long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:35-37

It does little to offer solace in the midst of the very real and present danger, the sheer torment, we face on this earth in our human state. I know. I've been there. From my vantage point what I have to offer may have little value in the middle of your tragedy. I'm more than familiar with this place. When my soul was downtrodden and my existence all but a vapor I felt everyone and everything was trying to snuff out, I felt the exact same way you do right now. But I stand here to tell you one thing: I survived. Not only did I just make it through, He saw fit to bring me out of the valley of death itself to the point of restored fellowship with Him in heavenly places. It might not make sense to you now, but He never left me. He reached down for me. He walked through with me. He lifted me out of the pit. He redeemed my life and all the locusts had destroyed. He blessed, oh so abundantly blessed. I couldn't see it then. I had no idea how He would be able to mend the brokenness or restore the shattered pieces. The ashes and dust were in fact traded for beauty. His beauty that was beyond what I could comprehend and certainly more than my limited sight could see in the midst of my own struggle. 

Do you understand? Nothing - not death or life, no single person on this earth and no heavenly being - good or evil - can separate us from the love of God. No height is above His reach. No depth beyond His Presence. No single thing, human or not, can remove you from the love He has for you, His child. We conquer the crushing forces that close in on us. We overcome the overwhelming. We rise above the muck and mess life throws at us because He raises us up to the Rock, to Himself. He draws us in the midst of despair when we have nowhere else to go. 

Friend, I'm praying for you. I'm grieving with you. My heart hurts because you're hurting. Yet I know, I know with all that is within me, He's going to redeem this - even this. 

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