Because God is never cruel, there is a reason for all things. We must know the pain of loss; because if we never knew it, we would have no compassion for others, and we would become monsters of self-regard, creatures of unalloyed self-interest. The terrible pain of loss teaches humility to our prideful kind, has the power to soften uncaring hearts, to make a better person of a good one.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
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| Tuesday, April 20, 2010
| A time to lament
|The test results have come back and the news is not good. Nothing dampens the spirit like a dismal medical outlook. So many emotions come with that kind of news: sorrow, despair, sadness, confusion, frustration, anger. All fair responses. So what do you do when the doctor gives you bad news?
I felt that last night. That twinge of grief is inescapable. To posses the ability to avoid such burdened emotions, you’d have to be less than human. Even Jesus – who was more than human – reached into the depths of melancholy when on the cross he cried out “My God, my god, why have you forsaken me.” (Mark 15:34)
Yet, amidst the natural bent toward misery, my heart sang. There was one song that kept running through my head like a tape loop stuck on replay: “Joy unspeakable that won’t go away – And just enough strength to live for today – So I never have to worry what tomorrow will bring.” (Desperation Band – Counting on God)
How is it possible for me to sing of joy while experience heart rending sorrow? To be honest – I don’t know. It is not by my power. My first inclination would have been to dive into despair as deep as I could go and wallow in it, not to sing songs of praise.
This untamable praise is not without precedent. We see it with Jeremiah. He watched his home and the city he loved crumble and suffer destruction. “My heart is broken” He told us. “D’you want to know why I’m sad? I’ll tell you why I’m sad. In fact, I’ll give you a list. I’m tormented and distressed, my home town is deserted and my friends and peers have been killed or taken into forced labor. I have been rejected, abandoned, and deprived. I am broken, hungry, and bitter.” For two and a half chapters, Jeremiah tells us everything that is wrong with life. (1st half of the book of Lamentations) Then he says something that exceeds human capability. He tells us the one thing that gives him hope: “Because of God’s love, we are not consumed. His compassion is new every morning. Great is His faithfulness. God is good.” (Lamentations 3:21-25)
The same thing happens when Paul and his partner Silas are wrongfully accused, beaten, and thrown in prison. Bound by stocks and kept under guard, they begin to sing songs of praise. (Acts 16:16-25)
Before Jesus was arrested, he prayed – knowing what he was about to endure – “I want your will, not mine.” (Luke 22:42) And in his final breath, Jesus speaks in worship, “unto you I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
What possessed me that my mind was filled with praise in the process of mourning? What is this crazy reckless abandon inside of me bursting with unspeakable joy while suffering undesirable grief? To be honest, it is a power beyond myself. It is an proclivity that defies my natural tendencies.
There is a time to lament. There are situations and events were sorrow is an appropriate response. To deny that would be absurd. I am not proposing we all be shiny happy people in the face of infinite sadness. My hope is that you see that God is bigger than your pain. It is the power of God that speaks beyond my own capabilities. When all else fails, when hope seems lost, it is through Him that I can still say “how great is our God.”
|posted by nicholas casey @ 10:42 PM