Thursday, April 28, 2011

A song for the brokenhearted...

This song is for my sister, one of the strongest women I know, if not THE strongest.  This is one of my favorite songs of all time, because it does more to describe the Christian walk as I've found it than the really Christian happy-clappy songs where you apparently always feel like rejoicing.  That has for sure NOT been my experience all the time.  There are times when you can feel God right there next to you through the storm, and then there are times when you can't feel Him at all.  It is in those times that we have to rely on what we KNOW to be true, and not what we FEEL to be true.  

2 Corinthians 4:18 " So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

It woulds be super duper if we just "felt" God's presence with us all the time.  But that doesn't allow us to grow into maturity.  If we loved only when it was easy, it isn't real love.  It is pragmatism.  I don't want John to love me because it's pragmatic, and because things go his way when he does.  And I don't want my love to be based purely on what I get from him.  Such "love" is immature.  God desires to have that deep love, thick and thin, come hell or high water (horrible choice of cliche I know... but roll with it.) kind of love with us.  He wants us to grow strong, as I would want for my children to (were I to have children...). 
Anyway, this song is for all those times when you don't understand what He is doing.  You don't even know where he is.  But the truth IS that He will never leave us or forsake us.  Period.  This song is for you sis.  (I know... more my style than yours... but hopefully you still like it.) 
 (Oh, and I didn't really get the whole guy tied up thing in the video until the end.  I think it's the idea of being in bondage that is really more of a choice.  When you stop struggling against it, and just let go, that is when it ceases to have control over you.  That's what I garnered anyways...)

Never Alone lyrics

I waited for you today
But you didn't show
No No No
I needed you today
So where did you go

You told me to call
Said you'd be there
And though I haven't seen you
Are you still there

I cried out with no reply
And I can't feel you by my side
So, I'll hold tight to what i know
Your here and I'm never alone.

And though i can not see you
And I cant explain why
Such a deep, deep reassurance
You've placed in my life 

We can not separate
Cause your part of me
And though your invisible
I'll trust the unseen


We can not separate
Cause your part of me
And though your invisible
I'll trust the unseen


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The beauty of suffering

I got hit with some news today that shouldn't be shaking me up as bad as it is.  One of my oldest friend's brother is separated from his wife.  Broken marriages seem like they should almost be the norm nowadays, and yet it still messes with my head, even when it isn't MY close friend.  I've been sitting here all morning sorta ruminating on it, feeling pangs of a broken heart that I'm sure are miniscule in comparison to his, and letting tears slip down my face that I'm sure are barely a drop in his bucket.  I don't care what the statistics are.  A broken marriage is worthy of a cry.  Shoot, 100% of life ends in death, and we still mourn that!

I was on my knees just praying for him today, and I started to feel a little guilty.  Why? Because part of me was delighting in the beauty of the situation.  I know that sounds horrible, so let me explain... I don't know what exactly is going on in the situation.  But I have caught a glimpse of something beautiful.   I have caught a glimpse of a loving God wooing his child back to himself.  And for that, I am rejoicing. 

I started sensing this joy that I was feeling and started wondering "Am I sadistic?!?!  How can I rejoice in any PART of this!  Am I THAT uncompassionate??!?!"  I felt ashamed.  But I kept thinking about it.  And I was reminded that THIS is the joy that comes with suffering.  It all depends on perspective and what you value.  I value anything that brings us closer to a loving God, because that is where true joy contentment, and peace reside.  And I can say this loudly because I feel I have put my money where my mouth is.  I feel like I have earned the right in some regards to speak about joy within suffering.

When I was diagnosed last year, I felt a joy.  I felt a joy and an excitement because of what I saw happen with my mom all those years ago, and I was legitimately excited about being refined in the same way.  Did I ENJOY it?!?! Ummmm... read the blog... However, would I change it?  No.  I feel able to feel joy in his suffering without fear of hypocrisy, because I reacted the same way with mine.  I don't say that to sound all cool and spiritual.  I say that because I want to stress that it doesn't come from some academic knowledge of suffering, and it doesn't come as some trite Christian cliche, coming from someone who just dosn't know what to say in the face of real pain, but feels the burden to say something.  It is coming from my heart.

 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1: 2-4)

"...For the joy set before him he endured the cross..." (Hebrews 2:2)

"5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
   “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
   and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
   and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son." (Hebrews 2:6 quoting Proverbs 3:11-12)


Suffering sucks.  Plain and simple.  But joy is entirely about perspective and values.  It says about Jesus "But for the joy set before him, endured the cross."  Joy?!?! There was joy on the cross?  Ehhhh... yes and no.  There was joy, because of his perspective and values.  His perspective was "this is temporary" and his values were us.  This temporary act would allow him relationship and fellowship with us, and we with him.  Boom.  Joy.  There's joy in cancer?  Perspecive: "this is temporary".  Values: This will refine me, cultivate compassion, cultivate patience, teach me how to sit still!  It will make me a more beautiful person in general.  Boom.  Joy.  Having a baby?  Easy one!  Spring football training?  Again, temporary.  Values?  Stronger, faster, more powerful, and more chiseled for da ladies!  I could go on and on.  Give me your suffering, and we can find some piece of joy in it.  It all depends on what you value though.  If you don't value the refinement, no joy.  If you do not value a closer walk with a loving God?  No joy.  Joy only comes when the thing that is reaped is bigger and better than the thing that is sacrificed. 

All that being said, I don't know how I could handle something happening in my marriage. I don't know if I would want to be given the testimony of how a marriage can recover from an affair (like a friend of mine has).  I don't know if I could handle John dying.  I got to watch a girl I knew in high school go through a year long struggle after her husband's accident, and finally lose him.  There is no shred of the somewhat surfacy "Christian girl" that I had known.  Instead there is this amazing woman who has more strength than I could ever imagine, and I don't know if I would come through the same situation as beautifully as she.  But the again, "God doesn't give us the grace while imagining a situation.  He gives us the grace when we are in the situation."  I have no idea who said that to me, but I'll never forget the words. 

I think the most tragic situation in the world is someone going through a whole lot of suffering and gaining nothing from it.  It is definitely a choice what you are going to do with suffering.  Choosing to let it drive you further away from a God who loves us like his children... well there is nothing more tragic than that.  So, while I hurt with my friend's brother, while I pray, and while I cry, I do not "mourn as those who have no hope."  Through my tears, I rejoice.  I rejoice because I am seeing the seeds of beauty welling up in his life.  And for this, I wish I knew him better, so that I could cheer him on face to face.  

And if you are out there and know who you are, know that I am rooting for you.  I am rooting for your marriage and restoration.  I am rooting for how the Lord is revealing his faithfulness to you in the situation,  and I'm rooting for that little seed that you allowed me to see that testifies to the man you are becoming through the situation.