Continued from here.
Once you replace asking God why with asking whether you will trust Him with even this, your perspective shifts. Casting Crowns’ song Just Be Held captures this beautifully:
Soak in the beauty of the lyrics. Let this song become a how-to manual for how to survive long-term suffering:
If your eyes are on the storm, you’ll wonder if I love you still. But if your eyes are on the cross, you’ll know I always have, and I always will.”
Your feelings will follow wherever you fix your gaze. If you fix your gaze on the storm, you’ll experience more anger, fear, anxiety, and despair. However, if you fix your gaze on the cross, you’ll experience God’s tenderness as He carries you through the storm. You’ll realize that you are not alone in the storm … that your Father is walking through the storm with you.
Lift your hands. Lift your eyes. In the storm is where you’ll find Me. And where you are, I’ll hold your heart. I’ll hold your heart. Come to Me. Find your rest in the arms of the God who won’t let go.”
Your God won’t let go, not even for a moment. The more powerful the storm is, the closer He’s holding you. The Bible says that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and near to those crushed in spirit. Let the words of these more modern translations of Ps. 31:18 wash over you:
If your heart is broken, you’ll find GOD right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.” (The Message)
“The LORD is there to rescue all
who are discouraged
and have given up hope.” (Contemporary English Version)
“The LORD is near to those who are discouraged;
he saves those who have lost all hope.” (Good News Translation)
“The Lord is close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain,
and he is always ready to restore the repentant one.” (The Passion Translation)
“When someone is hurting or brokenhearted, the Eternal moves in close
and revives him in his pain.” (The Voice)
Your God is not missing in action during your ongoing season of gut-wrenching pain. He’s right there with you, holding you close and already working this situation – even THIS – for good.
[Graphic: YouTube video of Casting Crowns’ Just Be Held]
I apologize for not blogging last week. My schedule for Father’s Day weekend was overstuffed, and I had to choose between blogging and sleeping. Here’s hoping I can get back on track this week.
God has been teaching me a particularly painful lesson over the past few weeks that I hope you can learn by reading about it rather than have to learn it on a “field trip” (as Beth Moore puts it) as I have. It’s a lesson about grace and why Jesus told us never to judge other people. I am learning this lesson by being on the receiving end of being judged during a particularly vulnerable season that most people simply cannot relate to. It’s one thing to be judged when you are being intentionally obstinate. However, when you are judged in weakness, vulnerability, hurt, and brokenness, the lack of grace heaped on top of that vulnerable season can seem unbearable.
Casting Crowns has a great line in the song, Jesus, Friend of Sinners:
Nobody knows what we’re for, only what we’re against, when we judge the wounded.”
And you know what? We’re ALL wounded. Your wounds might looks quite different from mine. In fact, your area of wounding might be in an area that’s a strength for me. When I judge you in the area of your deepest wounding, I can compound what’s already painful for you as I heap judgment upon you rather than grace. Not only do I squander an opportunity to saturate your wounds with God’s loving grace, but I actually rub salt into them, which can lead you to question whether you even have a place in the family of God. After all, we expect judgment from the world as “peculiar people,” but judgment from others in the Body of Christ can actually deepen the wound, that’s what I have been experiencing on this “field trip.”
Joyce Meyer recently preached on Ps. 105:18, which literally says that iron entered Joseph’s soul when he was enslaved and imprisoned in Egypt. If that makes no sense to you, thank God for sparing you that experience. Sadly, many of us know the pain of experiencing something so traumatizing that we cannot find the words to express the agony of iron entering the soul – words do not exist that can communicate the depth of your pain to someone who has not walked in your shoes. Judging someone with iron in his or her soul exacerbates the pain in ways you cannot possibly imagine if you have not experienced it yourself. I hope that you never do.
To be continued…
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace sitting in a judge’s chair over the word, “Judging.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]
Continued from here.
The third piece of armor is the shoes of the gospel of peace:
…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” ~ Eph. 6:15
Wearing the shoes of the gospel of peace is what enables you to keep standing when everything in your life is quaking:
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” ~ Eph. 6:13
We must ground ourselves in God’s peace, trusting that He is in control, even when our circumstances scream otherwise.
This is where I am in my life right now. As I previously shared, I was recently fired for refusing to do something I believe is both unethical and unlawful, so I am currently unemployed. My extended family is dealing with strife. My closest family members have been struggling with health issues, as is true for some of my closest friends. Other close friends are dealing with heavy emotional issues. Everywhere I look in my life is quaking. If I was not wearing my shoes of peace, I would be an emotional basket case right now.
Casting Crowns’ newest song, Oh My Soul, captures the dynamic of our fear colliding with our faith. Whether or not we are wearing our shoes of peace will determine what happens – whether we will remain standing in trust with God or flat on our backs, weighed down by our fear.
That song does a wonderful job of putting to music the same “putting on your shoes of peace” strategy demonstrated by Psalm 42. When fear arises, talk to your soul. Remind your soul that your God is bigger than your circumstances. Remind your soul that God has been faithful before and will be faithful again. God gives you the choice of where to place your focus – on your problems or on your God. Talking directly to your soul is a great way to step outside of your fear and see it more objectively from the perspective of God being in control, which is the key to putting on your shoes of peace.
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace holding up foam fingers of the peace sign. Courtesy Bitmoji.]