Praising in Pain (Adventures in Faith series)

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.” – Lamentations 3:22-24

Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet, knew the meaning of that promise at the core of his being.

Anyone who has suffered the death of a loved one, knows the meaning of it. To feel the jagged waves of gut-wrenching, heart-ripping pain of losing a husband, a wife, a child, a friend.

Anyone who has gone through betrayal by close friends, financial ruin, shattered dreams, accidents and sicknesses that forever altered the course of your life – knows the meaning of this promise too.

How can we still praise in our pain?

Last year, a friend of mine lost her 42-year-old husband to cancer – 8 months after he was diagnosed with it. After 20 years of marriage, she was left a widow with three children in elementary and high school.  This month marks 9 months since her husband died. She agreed to let me share her recent reflections from her CaringBridge site.

God’s refining and comfort are amazing. I am thankful that He is doing both in my life. I have been able to recognize that my biggest dream in life is still there, to grow closer to God each day.

The lie that Satan would want me to believe is that all my dreams are gone. There are many dreams and desires that God has taken away, and it is hard to let go of those. There is comfort in things staying the way they were when my husband was here. But God has a purpose for every thing that He allows.

We are learning what complete surrender looks like. We are also learning to trust God when the path we would like to take is not the path He wants us to walk down. It sounds so easy but it comes to a daily choice to say no to self-pity and bitterness.

A friend and I have a phrase that we text to remind each other…live above your circumstances. That is our reminder that our home is in heaven and all that we desire is there. God will give us the strength and wisdom to walk this road until He calls us home.

I have been studying the story of Ruth and a question in the study asked if I could see evidence of the harvest beginning (Ruth 1:22); the sun rising? Here is what I wrote and the verses that I claimed:

I have never understood what God says when He says to not let your hearts be troubled, and yet I think it is the balance of living in pain while resting in God’s strength. It is peaceful and awful at the same time. It is broken and whole. It is a heart that is ripped out that knows that God is the only way to heal. It is knowing that it will hurt, but I will heal.

I am catching glimpses of the harvest – my wounds are healing. I am seeing things that I could handle before my husband died, that are knocking me over now. But being able to recognize it allows me to turn to God for His wisdom and strength. Emotionally handicapped is how I feel right now and I know that God wants me here so that I can see that He is all that I need. – 1 Peter 1:6-7

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Nothing [Poem]

Sometimes the things and people we treasure in life
seem like mighty mountains
strong and secure
We love how they’re in our life
and often forget to look twice
and see that they’re really just sand castles by the sea

Often, without warning
the waves roll in
and in that moment
they are swept away
and we are separated in less than a day

Sometimes the waves sweep it all away complete:
the body of the one you love is buried in a grave
an accident leaves your body forever changed
or with a few words the one you love leaves your life
and you are separated
left with your empty heart filled with strife

Our mind is at a loss, but as we stare
Jesus quietly brushes the strands of hair
from out of our face and gently says,
“My child you have been separated from so much.
I AM close to your broken heart and
I will save your spirit that is crushed.

Just remember one thing, let it ring
through your hollowed, aching heart
These things seem to bring nothing but despair
but I know what I’m doing here
These people and things do not stay. . .

But the cross and the empty grave
are the reasons you can face another day because
Nothing can separate you from My love
And what I speak is true; it is My promise to you
And I will see you through
until I bring you home to My place
where your sorrow and sighing will flee away
and joy and gladness will overtake.”

Originally published in my poem book, His Comfort, on May 2001

Based on Romans 8:38-39, Psalm 34:18, Isaiah 51:11

Photo on Flickr by amerune

Travailing Prayer Equals Prevailing Prayer


Life has few more poignantly significant moments than those found in the face of death.

It may be of a family member or a dear friend, but you stand changed by their passing.  Again and again, Jesus showed his power over death through raising Jairus’ daughter, Lazarus, and then Himself back to life.

In the case of Jairus’ daughter, the onlookers laughed.  With Lazarus, Martha reasoned with Jesus that the stench of death and decay would be too strong after  four days of being in the grave.  And then as Jesus lay in the grave, his own disciples despaired of ever seeing Him again.

There are many amazing accounts of near death experiences.  We hear them and are momentarily awed and inspired by the miracle of life in the face of death.

Yet, how many of us live our days with the firm belief that He is

“…the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were?” (Romans 4:17, NIV)

Boundless and countless are the circumstances and situations in our lives in which Father waits on “the edge of His seat” for us to pray with unwavering and longsuffering faith and to not be afraid; just believe (Mark 5:36).

Longsuffering is defined as “long and patient endurance of injury, trouble, or provocation” (def: dictionary.com).

The King James translation uses the word “travail” in speaking of a woman in childbirth.  Travail means, “pain, anguish or suffering resulting from mental or physical hardship” (dictionary.com).

We think nothing of a woman “travailing” in childbirth; and yet how often are we willing to travail in prayer — to persevere, to endure, to continue calling out to our God who hears, and to embrace the belief that He is the God who gives life to the dead.

James 5:16 (KJV), “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Effectual means, “producing or capable of producing an intended effect; adequate” (dictionary.com).  Fervent means, “having or showing great warmth or intensity of spirit, feeling, enthusiasm, etc.; ardent” (dictionary.com).

Can any of these words be used to describe our prayers:

  • Effectual
  • Fervent
  • Faith-filled
  • Longsuffering
  • Travailing
  • Unwavering

Travailing prayer equals prevailing prayer.

In Luke 18:1 (NIV) we read, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

After telling the parable Jesus gives His audience this challenge, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

“However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8, NIV)

Will Jesus find faith when He returns?  Will He find His children praying effectual, fervent, faith-filled, longsuffering, travailing, unwavering prayers?

He is the God . . .

  • who brings life to the dead.
  • who gives sight to the blind.
  • who heals the sick.
  • who makes the broken . . . whole.
  • who gives the hopeless . . . hope.
  • who makes the lame . . . leap.
  • who makes the mute sing and the deaf ear hear symphonies.
  • who sets the captives free and leads the prisoners forth with singing.

Dear brothers and sisters, “Will Jesus find faith when He returns?”

Travailing prayer equals prevailing prayer.

 

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