No soul can be really at rest until it has given up all dependence on everything else and has been forced to depend on the Lord alone. As long as our expectation is from other things, nothing but disappointment awaits us. Feelings may change, and will change with our changing circumstances; doctrines and dogmas may be upset; Christian work may come to naught; prayers may seem to lose their fervency; promises may seem to fail; everything that we have believed in or depended upon may seem to be swept away, and only God is left, just God, the bare God, if I may be allowed the expression; simply and only God.
~Hannah Whitall Smith
I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath. He has led me and made me walk in darkness and not in light. Surely He has turned His hand against me time and time again throughout the day. He has aged my flesh and my skin, and broken my bones. He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and woe. He has set me in dark places like the dead of long ago.
He has hedged me in so that I cannot get out; He has made my chain heavy. Even when I cry and shout, He shuts out my prayer. He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked. He has been to me a bear lying in wait, like a lion in ambush. He has turned aside my ways and torn me in pieces; He has made me desolate. He has bent His bow and set me up as a target for the arrow.
He has caused the arrows of His quiver to pierce my loins. I have become the ridicule of all my people— their taunting song all the day. He has filled me with bitterness, He has made me drink wormwood. He has also broken my teeth with gravel, and covered me with ashes. You have moved my soul far from peace; I have forgotten prosperity. And I said, “my strength and my hope have perished from the Lord.”
Remember my affliction and roaming, the wormwood and the gall. My soul still remembers and sinks within me.
This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”
~The Prophet Jeremiah watching his world crumble, in chapter 3 of his Lament.
OH BELOVED IT IS TRUE.
Most of us formerly lost boys from the Colony of Mercy have done some pretty major damage to people in our past. And, most of us have come to a place of profound regret for the pain that we have caused. Oh, we no longer hide in the stinking and fetid shadows of shame – but we would likely trade almost anything for a chance to undo the pain we have brought to others when we lived under our life-dominating sins of addiction.
This fool of a writer is no different. And, if you have read any of my posts over the years, you know that G_d’s grace has enabled me both to embrace the lavish forgiveness poured out on me, and to live in such a way as to never hurt people (especially the victims of my failures) again. So, as I continue for a little below. Please read all of it with the above in mind…
Addicts hurt too.
This man set free from bondage is going through some of the most painful times of my life right now. There are some relational dynamics, discoveries and realizations about some things that happened to me in the past the have crashed into my life at a very unexpected time. The sorrow i feel has actually helped me begin to begin to understand what our Jesus went through in Gethsemane… Sorrowful unto death.
Quite frankly, it has been hard to go on some days. OH NO! I am not talking about checking out, or giving into the sin that so easily entangles us. The flesh is real, and it is unredeemable, but i am not talking about just going back to my old ways of dealing (very badly) with problems.
I am talking about the kind of bone-crushing sadness that has no resolution in this life. I am talking about the nights where – like David wrote – my bed is soaked with tears. I am talking about the intractable situations that led Jeremiah to write the lament in the passage above. I am talking about the stuff that just can’t be fixed, and may never be right in our lives, and in the world.
Fear not, this writer knows that he KNOWS The One Who is already in the solution. And, he is joyfully curious to see how The Great Weaver will work all if it together for good. Surely to Live is Christ – and to sleep from this world will be gain beyond our wildest imaginations!!!!!!!!!!
But the getting there. Oh G_d, help us.
CAN WE SEE IT?
Like anything Our Father brings to pass in our lives, it is always for the good. Always. And, deep sorrow shows itself to be an incredibly powerful tool to bring about the very good that our sorrow reminds us is missing.
I have become more deeply acquainted with my utter inability to live even one heartbeat without His constant Grace. I have become convinced that the terrifying realities of existence are not just made better by knowing G_d, but that there is no Life apart from Him.
And it has only been in the last few weeks (it takes fools a long time to learn i guess), that i have begun to understand how Jeremiah gets through all of the paragraphs in Lamentations 3 that are ripping his existence apart – and lands on the bedrock of the only Real Thing that remains: The חֶסֶד (kheh’-sed, or steadfast, covenantal, unfailing, merciful, compassionate, eternal Love) of G_d.
Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Isaiah, Elijah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Peter, Paul, Barnabas, many others, AND JESUS, all go through this process as well. Sorrow will indeed crush us in life if we try to bear it alone. But, in Lament, in crying out to our Maker for relief, it will NEVER leave us abandoned.
Lament is not a sign of G_d’s absence in Scripture, it is most often an indicator of a pending breakthrough. Yes, the breakthrough is bit like getting our skin torn away by a sand-blaster. But, just as YES, the tearing away of our old man reveals beauty underneath that we might never have discovered if we had never entered into the crisis.
So, are you hurting brother? I am so sorry. Oh, how the pain of life just…. hurts sometimes! In it though, can you hear another brother who is traveling through some pretty dark parts of his path right now? Let it hurt. Let the pain dissuade you of any confidence in getting through it all by yourself. And then, in that disillusionment, may you find what i – and so many others have found at the bottom of it all: Him. G_d Himself, even more real than you had dared to imagine before.
Tonight is your night. Wail your lament. Let Him meet you in it.
The people who keep on asking if they can’t lead a decent life without Christ, don’t know what life is about; if they did they would know that ‘a decent life’ is mere machinery compared with the thing we men are really made for. Morality is indispensable: but the Divine Life, which gives itself to us and which calls us to be gods, intends for us something in which morality will be swallowed up. We are to be re-made. All the rabbit in us is to disappear – the worried, conscientious, ethical rabbit as well as the cowardly and sensual rabbit. We shall bleed and squeal as the handfuls of fur come out; and then, surprisingly, we shall find underneath it all a thing we have never yet imagined: a real Man, an ageless god, a son of God, strong, radiant, wise, beautiful, and drenched in joy.
Written by Makala Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.
Think About This: “Don’t fear your weaknesses—God supplies all the strength you need. Be afraid of those moments when you think you’re independently strong.” ―
The Daily Bible Reading: Reflection | You can download our 2021 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here.