Dealing With “It”

How do you “Deal with it?”

When the world is closing in on you, and you truly have no remote idea of what comes next.

When the only news you can see is bad.

When life gives you proverbial (or real) lemons.

When the doctors have given up hope.

When you just can’t catch a break.

How do you deal with it?

I woke up early this morning to pray about this very topic. As you all know, my Dad has been fighting cancer now for a couple of years. Two major surgeries. Spots on the liver. Swelling. Kidney malfunction. A kink in the colon. It’s been a tough fight. At times it’s been unbelievably hard for him, as well as the family.

How do you deal with it?

How do you find strength?

I think as Christians, it is easy for us to say to one another, “Praise anyway”, but when the rubber hits the road how do you do that? How do you say, “God, I don’t get it, but I trust You and I praise You and in whatever happens You’re God, and I’m not.”

How do you say, “God, don’t you see how bad this hurts” and “God, You’re in control” in the same breath?

There, my friends, is where being grounded in the Word of God becomes essential.

The Pslams are always good for a bit of perspective in this regard.

I’ve written previously on my personal blog about Psalm 13. David has reached a point of utter despair. A place where God has surely stopped listening.

BUT

He praises anyway.

He says, “In spite of the circumstances, You are God. I am not. So, I will continue to trust. I will continue to praise.”

Because through it all, He is an unfailing God.

All too often, we think that God must work within the parameters which we set for Him. In doing so, we miss the miracles in the way He is working. We miss the peace that He longs to give. Instead we walk in the anxiety. We walk in the short-sightedness.

I get why we do it. No one likes pain and suffering. No one likes to be in the place of utter and complete desperation and dependency. We’re taught in our American culture that we are to be pillars of strength. That no matter what happens we can overcome it. That we have the ability. We have the power.

We’ve created a culture that ultimately says, “I don’t need You, God. I am strong enough. I am smart enough.”

It’s all hogwash.

We don’t have the strength.

We don’t have the smarts.

We have to come to the point in our lives where the absolute best we can do is fall on our face and say, “You are God. I am not. Therefore, I will worship You anyway. I will praise You in spite of the circumstance.”

Only after we have hit that place, can we, like Job, truly say: “You give and take away. Blessed be the name of YHWH.”

And, its only in that place of utter desperation that can say, “Led me out of my personal drama and make me a part of Your story.”

I don’t know what the next 6 hours, 6 days, 6 months, or 6 years hold in store. What I do know, though, is that no matter what they hold, I, like David, will say, “You, soul, bless the Lord”. And despite the circumstance, I will CHOOSE to say, “Blessed be the name of YHWH!”

We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.

“A huge army is coming to fight against you.” – message to Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:2

Right now the army we’re facing is the cancer battling Michael’s dad.  The force of the cancer is tearing down the defenses in Garey’s body.  We all experience different pictures of the army at different points in our life.  The picture of the army in your life may look like a lost job, a falsified smear of your reputation, the death of a loved one, a miscarriage, a financial struggle, sickness, unfaithfulness, depression, fear, loneliness, anxiety.  How do we overcome the army when there is no sign of or reason for hope?

In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat is given a message that a vast army is unexpectedly coming against him.  Jehoshaphat’s response is to ask God for advice and to proclaim a fast (a period of abstaining from food for a spiritual purpose) for all of Judah, uniting his kingdom in seeking help from YHWH (the written name of God in the Bible).  As people came to the temple at Jerusalem to seek YHWH, Jehoshaphat stood among them and made statements that reveal an authentic walk in humility and the fear of YHWH.

“You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations.”

“Power and might are in your hands, and no one can withstand You.”

“We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.”

“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

Can we admit these things in our own lives?  Can we declare that YHWH our God rules over all His people including us.  Do we believe that power and might are in His hands and that no one, no cancer, no lie, no threat, no sickness, no struggle, no loss, no despair can withstand Him?  Do we admit that we can’t handle the battle on our own–that the strength of technology or medical intervention or money or fame or our own vengeance is not effective against the force of the army fighting against us?

Jehoshaphat knew God enough to know these things.  And this is what happened:

The Spirit of YHWH came upon a Levite and gave him a message for the king to “not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God’s.”  The Spirit then gave instructions of where to find their enemy, to take up their positions, stand firm, and NOT FIGHT!  That’s right.  “Stand firm and see the deliverance YHWH will give you…Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Go out to face them tomorrow, and YHWH will be with you.”

Therefore Jehoshaphat led his people in worship again (the first time by declaring a fast and uniting to seek God) by bowing with his face to the ground.  And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before YHWH.  Then some people stood up and praised YHWH with a very loud voice!

The next morning they left for the place the Spirit of God had instructed for them to go.  Jehoshaphat encouraged the people, appointed men to sing to YHWH and to praise and thank Him for showing His holiness.  AS THEY BEGAN TO SING, YHWH set ambushes against the army who was invading Judah, and the army was defeated!!  The attacking army began to attack amongst each other until they had destroyed one another!  When the men of Judah came to see the army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped!  Not only had God destroyed the opposing army, but then Jehoshaphat and his men went out and carried off their plunder–equipment, clothing, and valuable articles!

After this incredible battle that they were able to witness YHWH fight for them, Jehoshaphat led all his men joyfully back to Jerusalem where they went into the temple with harps and lutes and trumpets to praise YHWH for his magnificent power shown among them!

This story just keeps getting better!  This victory brought the fear of God upon all the kingdoms of the countries, and Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was at peace, for God had given him rest on every side!

So what action will you take with the battle facing you?  As for me, I will declare that God reigns!  Power and might are in His hand, and no one — not even cancer — can withstand my God!  I will admit that we don’t have the strength or power to face the cancer that is attacking Garey.  I will admit that I do not know what to do, but MY EYES WILL REMAIN UPON MY GOD!

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.  With less of you there is more of God and His rule.” – Jesus, Matthew 5:3 (The Message)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)

 

Silent, yet Working

What an awesome day we had yesterday!

We spent the day in a Walk Thru The Bible New Testament Seminar. We learned a fairly large amount about the New Testament. How it all fits together chronologically. Perhaps the most striking thing we learned was the state of the world a the time of Christ’s birth.

Between the closing of the Old Testament (the Prophet Malachi) and the beginning of the New Testament (the coming of John the Baptist) is a period of time known as The 400-Years of Silence. It’s considered “silent” because God had stopped talking in His usual manner (prophets, kings, etc).

Yet….

We can’t count God’s silence as inactivity. Even in His silence, God continues to maneuver things around in the background.

Between the period of Malachi and Matthew we find God preparing the world for the Messiah. He’s doing this through the advent of three kingdoms and their contributions to society.

First came Greece and their contribution of a single language. This allowed for communication to flow more smoothly.

Second came Israel and their contribution of hope for a coming Messiah. This prepared the hearts of the people.

Lastly came Rome and their contribution of roads. This allowed the Gospel to be widely-spread after the resurrection.

What a beautiful image of God working in His silence.

Is God being silent in your life now?

If so, then remain joyfully and confidently expectant in God’s goodness (the definition of Hope). God is working in the background. Maneuvering things into place. Making ready the path for The Messiah–Emmanuel, God WITH us.