Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hope In Devastation

I have had so many reminders the past several days of what a fallen world we live in.  I know we are constantly surrounded by evidence of how fallen our world is, but it just seems like lately reminders are in front of me in neon lights.  Just within the past week I have had conversations with people over everything from family disagreements over Thanksgiving, to one of my best friends having complications with her pregnancy, to finding out a friend's younger brother passed away unexpectedly.  I've discovered that someone I love deeply is making unwise, destructive decisions that not only effects their life but also the lives everyone around them.  And in between all of those conversations, there have been other hard conversations where people have been hurt and have experienced huge losses in their lives.  I am so angry and deeply grieved on one hand, yet on the other hand I'm just numb.  Tears have fallen as heavily and easily as the rain we've had over the past two days.  I feel devastated and helpless.  I think the numbness is coming from complete exhaustion.

And yet, I feel hopeful.  Sounds crazy, right?  After all, devastated and hopeful is an oxymoron.  You may be wondering how could I possibly feel both of those at the same time.

It's actually very simple.  My hope comes for the Lord.  I know that I know God is sovereign.  I know that nothing takes Him by surprise.  I know that He's in control of all things.  I don't claim to understand why He allows some things to happen.  I often think of the quote I ran across several months ago.

"Because I know Who, I am willfully unconcerned with the why." ~ Angie Smith

It's a powerful quote, and it should be something I practice.  I shouldn't be concerned with wanting and needing answers to all the "whys".  I should trust the Lord.  I should take all of my anger, all of my questions and my hurting heart and lay it at the foot of the cross.  I often fail to do so though, and even when I do, I sometimes pick it back up just as quickly as I laid it at His feet.  It's when I fail at putting all my trust in Him and hang tightly to His promises that the devastation comes.  Darkness begins to cover up what I know to be true.

A little over a week ago I read a devotion written by Joni Earekson Tada.  In this devotion she used a quote from a friend.

"Never doubt in the darkness what you once believed in the light."

It's so hard to loose sight of the truth when things are dark.  I am so grateful the Lord loves us so much that in the midst of that darkness He shines a light on what we know to be true.  He did that for me on Sunday.

I long for Heaven.  I long for Heaven more than I've ever longed for anything else in my life.  I can't wait for Him to wipe away my last tear ... for their to be no more pain ... to have a new body ... to crawl up in Jesus' lap ... to live in perfect peace ...

I literally pray every day He would hurry up and come back to get us.  Most days I pray that no less than 25 times.  It's a good thing He doesn't tire of hearing our request because I could wear Him out quickly.  He doesn't tire but sometimes I do.  I admit there have been times when I've asked Him if He's ever going to return.  It's like a child asking if we are ever going to get there while traveling.

Sunday morning He used the sermon to remind me He is coming back to get those who belong to Him.  He used Andy's (our Associate Pastor) sermon to renew my excitement.  After having a week of seeing so much darkness and having the reminders of what a fallen world we live in bright, neon lights, He sent a reminder that was much brighter than any neon light could ever be.

He is returning and my deepest longing will be fulfilled.

The timing of Andy's sermon was also a reminder of His perfect timing.  I needed that sermon to help me cope with the events of the week I had just had.  He knew I would need it even more to withstand what was to come this week.  It's been an excruciating past couple of days, but because of the light He shined on His promise I have hope.  I've been able to remember what I know to be true while living through the darkness.

The story of each of our lives is full of hurt and darkness.  We all have those times.  Not one of us is exempt.  But those who belong to Him know how their story ends.  It ends with Him taking us home.

That's why I can have hope in the midst of devastation.  I have the promise this is not my home.  This life is temporary and Heaven is eternal.

And God never breaks His promises.

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