“The cry of pain is our deepest acknowledgement we are not home. We are divided from our own body, our own deepest desires, our dearest relationships. We are separated and long for restoration. It is the cry of pain that initiates the search to ask God “What are you doing?” It is this element of a lament that has the potential to change the heart.” Dan Allendar
It seems as though my heart’s been doing much crying these last couple of weeks. Crying for lost relationships, lost dreams, and lost hopes. This world lies broken in pieces and it reminds me, once again, that this is not home.
As wonderful as life on earth can be, as amazing as Jesus’ good news is, and as constant as God’s presence carries me, this present life is not my final destination. I’m a wayfaring sojourner and every once in a while the pain of this life becomes my stark reminder that my life here is a temporary, albeit, preparatory journey for the life to come.
Living this life in the here and now, with an eye fixed on eternity, requires us to enter into this life fully, including all the joy and pain. The abundant life Jesus was referring to doesn’t mean a pain-free life, but a life lived with abundant faith, hope, and love.
Our life: faith-filled, grace-directed, and always-transforming, grows more and more three-dimensional when we run towards God . . . even if it means running through pain and sorrow to get to him.
God gives us lament as a means to communicate the depths of pain in our hearts. The cry is an integral part of lament that propels us towards hope.
It’s a cry of pain, anger or confusion. It’s a cry that empties all the hurt in our heart at the feet of Jesus and a cry that points us back to faith in him.
Psalm 31 is a great example of Lament. This chapter contains all the elements of lament and gives us a model to follow.
In the first two verses, we read David’s cry. But we don’t picture him stomping his foot like a toddler demanding attention, screaming at the top of his lungs. Instead we see David’s heart’s cry with pain and longing while he declares attributes of God.
David cried for deliverance, rescue, and saving.
What do you need deliverance from? What storm is bearing down on you with no relief in site?
I’ve seen storm clouds brew on the horizon and watched wild winds whip the grass into swirls and then dashed for shelter as lightning blazed and thunder reverberated in my ears.
There are times when God prepares our hearts for the storm that’s heading our way and other times it takes us completely by surprise. But no matter whether you knew ahead of time about the upcoming maelstrom or were completely taken by surprise, the emotional response is still the same. Shock. Hurt. Pain. Questions. Anger.
We can stand defiantly or cower fearfully, but what we must do is cry:
“God, I take refuge in you. Deliver me. You are righteous, don’t let me be put to shame. Lean towards my cry and come to me quickly. I need you, God. Be my rock and my refuge. Save me.”
The lament opens with a cry that states what we need and declares God’s character. It’s in declaring who God is that gives us hope and reassures our heart and puts our faith into practice.
The enemy wants nothing more than to isolate you so that you feel as though you’re alone, that God doesn’t care, and that he doesn’t listen.
By wrapping your cry in the truth of God’s character you insulate your pain-ridden heart against the deceptive wiles of the enemy.
So cry out your hurt to God. Cry out your fears and questions and doubts. But remind yourself that God is righteous, that he is your shelter, and strength. That he is with you, he is constant, that he hears you and longs to rescue you.
Hello friends. I’m glad you’re here. It’s been a bit busier than normal around here. I’ve been immersing myself in a community theatre production and I’m learning all things lyrics, lines, and steps that will soon be forgotten, but underneath the surface God has touched some tender places and brought revelation and healing that will last long after the final curtain call.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been reading Andrew Murray’s “Waiting on God” and I’m half done (it’s a 30 day devotional) but no where near being finished. Each day’s reading is filled with profound thoughts that sit heavy in my heart. I’ve been a little hen-like: I keep scratching the ground and I keep finding the best morsels.
And because I love doing life and sharing it, I’m giving you the four best morsels I’ve discovered so far. Drum roll! Fanfare! Crowds cheering!
Waiting on God brings me more stillness to realize God’s presence.
I’m busy. You’re busy. Our kids’ are busy. Our dogs are busy. Everyone is busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. Being still is almost as foreign as life without cell phones. Yet, being still and quieting my soul allows the presence of God to be known. And God’s presence is his greatest gift to us. The more I experience his presence, the more I am dependent on it.
Waiting on God increases my consciousness of my ignorance of what God’s great plans might be.
Knowledge. Insight. Both are good and we need them, but God is continually doing new things. He has made me new and is keeping on making me new. I can’t assume that just because God does something one way that that’s the way he’s always going to work. I cannot put God in my “Jessica Box” because my box puts limits on God and who am I to limit God? He knows all. He sees all. He does all. I do not. And I need the reminder.
Waiting on God gives me more faith in the certainty that God has greater things to show me.
As I surrender and submit my will to him, I realize I don’t have it all together–even if I am having a great hair day. Faith is what makes living this God-life work. And I need greater faith. I need it like I need chocolate. A lot.
Waiting on God reveals God to me in new glory.
As I wait on God, he reveals himself to me in greater and greater glory, which causes me to be still and grow in consciousness of my ignorance of exactly what he’s able to do. Which in turn grows my faith and as my faith grows he becomes even more glorious. It becomes this kaleidescope that bursts forth in beauty with each turn.
Delightful, isn’t it? More stillness brings us more presence. More ignorance brings us greater awe. More faith brings us revelation. More glory brings us to our knees.
I entered it in a contest and am quietly asking that you pray about voting for me.
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For two consecutive months my heart sank when I maneuvered my over-filled cart to the checkout lane and “The Daydreamer” bagged my groceries. As I watched her gaze off into the distance for every two items she packed, I wanted to snap my fingers in her face to grab her attention. Could I push her out of the way and bag my own groceries?
I did neither.
I did put a smile on my face.
But my insides did not match my outside.
Waiting. It can make me crazy. I put on a patience facade, but inside my heart races and my blood pressure rises. But God is calling me to wait on him and he shows me how in real-life incidents.
I’m grasping the idea that waiting is much bigger and much more important than I ever anticipated in my walk with Christ.
It’s also hard. Really hard.
It takes discipline. Ugh.
It takes perseverance. Too much sometimes.
God wants my inner self and outer self to be in harmony with each other. I might be able to fool others, but God is aware of the state of my heart.
If I were the most giving person, but my heart is resentful, my giving means nothing. I can be the most vocal for the socially oppressed, but if I oppress my fellow believers then my voice loses impact. If I raise my hands in worship or bow my body before the Lord, but refuse to surrender a secret hurt or offense then my worship means nothing.
Our outer self must reflect our inner self.
Psalm 37:34 “Wait for the Lord, keep his ways and he will exalt you to inherit the land.”
The key to having harmony between my inner and outer self lies in these three words: “keep his ways.”
Sometimes keeping his ways is hard. Sometimes his ways lead us to a sea with our enemies closing in. And keeping his ways means surrendering a lifestyle or habit that is the opposite of kindness or unity or self-control or patience or goodness or life-giving words.
But we fail. You know? In one experience in the grocery store, we lose forward momentum. But we want to honor God and his word and we want to please him and receive his blessings so we keep trying and we keep failing.
Soon we are driven to the cross where we fall on our knees. We lift up our hands in surrender and we decide to wait on him because we are exhausted and can no longer keep doing and failing.
Waiting on the Lord begins with our impotence. We can do nothing in our own strength.
“Put your power in God’s omnipotence and find in waiting on God your deliverance. Your failure has been owing to only one thing: you sought to conquer and obey in your own strength. Come and bow before God who alone is good, and alone can work any good thing.” Andrew Murray, Waiting on God
We can talk ourselves into failing just by the overwhelming statement of “keep his ways.” But this I know: God takes us from strength to strength. Ability to ability. And we must carefully keep those that we have received the strength for, trusting him to guide our steps and guide our growth into the next one.
In my impotence I am strengthened and filled with his goodness, his righteousness, and his love.
Waiting on God is about God’s magnificence, his faithfulness, his strength. It’s about recognizing that I am small and he is big. And it’s in my smallness that I experience his work in my life. The work that he brings from the inside out. The work that can only come from him, the work that is only through him, and the work that is only for him.