Lent 2013: BUT!

As we have done throughout previous Lenten and Advent seasons, we are again blogging through the Lectionary readings in this Lenten season. This year, however, due to our travels in Central Asia, we have asked a number of guests to blog for us. These guests are individuals who are influential in our lives and work. We're honored to share this space with them-and with you–in this season of reflection.

A reading from the Psalms.

Have pity, Lord! I am hurting and almost blind. My whole body aches. I have known only sorrow all my life long, and I suffer year after year. I am weak from sin, and my bones are limp.

My enemies insult me. Neighbors are even worse, and I disgust my friends. People meet me on the street, and they turn and run. I am completely forgotten like someone dead. I am merely a broken dish. I hear the crowds whisper, “Everyone is afraid!” They are plotting and scheming to murder me.

But I trust you, Lord, and I claim you as my God. My life is in your hands. Save me from enemies who hunt me down. Smile on me, your servant. Have pity and rescue me.

— Psalms 31:9-16 (CEVUS06)

One of my favorite words in the Psalms is the word “BUT”. Time and time again, we find the Psalmist in a rough spot, and after he goes through the litany of things that are not really going all that well he begins a phrase with “BUT”. Today's reading is another of those times.

Things are not in the best of shape.

His entire body aches.

People are plotting to murder him.

BUT.

As I write this, two different faces float through my mind. One whose entire body aches. The other has people that would plot to kill them if those people knew who they were.

And, yet, in both cases, I can hear them utter, along with the Psalmist, “BUT!”

These are two very real people with very real issues.

One lies in a hospital bed. Her body is slipping into a coma. Liver is not functioning. Doctors are saying there no reason for the tumors that have been benign for years to suddenly turn aggressive. And in the midst, she whispers, “BUT.”

And, her husband screams it.

The other works to understand the world of human trafficking. God has put them in positions to talk to those actually involved in the trafficking process. When they ask about their plans, this person simply tells them what the Bible says. And, while the world goes on around them, this friend whispers, “BUT.”

And, with them both we ask that you to whisper out a “BUT” for them.

See, the Psalmist understood something that we often miss. He understood that when things looked the most impossible he could still trust in The Lord. He could still lean on the breast of his Lord and say, “But, I trust.”

So, here we are, on a crisp night at the beginning of Holy Week in Central Asia. We think of these two friends–and many others. We reflect on what we know of the Character and Nature of our Father God. And, because of this knowledge, we raise our palms to heaven, look upward, and cry out, “BUT.”

And, we ask that as you read this you too take a moment to whisper a prayer for our friends. Both locked in a spiritual battle that goes way beyond any of our abilities to overcome. Yet, both trusting. Lift your voice with ours and theirs and together let us cry out “BUT!”

The church in Ephesus

The church in Ephesus

UPDATE:

Between the time of writing this last night and waking up this morning, we were notified that our friend, Cathy, had passed on. She had been battling cancer, and now she rests in the arms of our Saviour.

Cathy, and her husband, had spent the last few years rebuilding the church that Paul started and John the Beloved led in Ephesus. We had the honor of meeting them, and serving alongside them, last summer. Our lives were made richer by that time.

Cathy was also a new grandmother. Her first grandchild had been born only a few weeks ago.

So, this morning, between our cries of “WHY?”, we cry out “BUT”. We cry it out for Mike. We cry it out for their family. We cry it out for their church.

And, as we continue our march to the cross, we ask that the Messiah in His grace and mercy would be Shalom in this time. May He comfort their sorrow, and wipe their tears.

Communion at the Church in Ephesus

Communion at the Church in Ephesus

 

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