For Our Sake

“I’m no longer a slave to fear.  I am a child of God.”~ Brian Johnson, Johnathan David Helser, Joel Case

The radio touched me today with simple words that carried a depth that touched the furthest reaches of my soul.

I’ve been a slave locked in many dark prisons throughout the course of my life. Prisons that held me years after the chains were broken and the doors thrown wide. Like a fragile bird unable to fly from its cage; its tiny heart hammering in its chest until it seemed like it wouldn’t be able to bear up under the strain.

My Jesus burst my bonds years ago, but it has taken decades to realize the reality of this freedom and just how complete it is. The walls of my fears, self-pity, insecurity and pride have been high and slippery.

As He leads me over one wall after another, gently but persistently,  I’m becoming more accustomed to the sun on my face and the grass beneath my feet. The days are coming more frequently now where the very joy of knowing Him and spending time in His presence wells up in me until it spills over my banks.

The flood of emotion that fills me from His love causes me to want to laugh and cry. To sit quietly before Him and at the same time shout His praises from the rooftops.

I want to have eyes to see all that don’t know Him. I want to reach the ones who have turned from Him because the Jesus they have seen in me and others like me doesn’t always represent who He truly is.  I want to say I’m sorry and share all that I’ve learned.

How often has my self righteousness or lack of love made  someone question the one true God?  I want to tell them, that I love Him, but I’m not Him.  I am a sinner and by His grace I am learning, but it is a very slow process.  I am often a poor reflection of who He is.

I long to tell them that He is not religion or a strict moral code. He is not cruel or small – legend or myth. He is not ritual or tradition. He is not simply good teacher – or great prophet.

He is God.

Jesus is “I am.”

Nowhere in literature are there three letters connected  that have greater relevance, power or truth.

The promise held in those three letters set me free.

“Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, “The God of your Fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?  God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.”  Exodus 3:13-14

He didn’t say He used to be or that He may be later.

He simply said, “I am.”

Our embrace or dismissal of that statement doesn’t change the fact of who He is.

He is the one who was, who is and who is to come.

“So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham? Jesus said to them, “Truly, Truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:57

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:1-5

The Father gave His son and Jesus chose to lay down His life for us. No one took His life from Him. He freely gave it.

He chose to give us the way to come into right relationship with Himself.

I read something in 2 Corinthians today that struck my heart in a fresh way.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

For our sake?

Why would He do that?

Why would He give what was most precious to Him to save a fallen race who has done nothing but sin and rebel?

Why would He take beggars and make them sons and daughters?

“So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”  Galatians 4:7

Why? It doesn’t make sense.

He did it for our sake.  Because He loves us.

I am undone and made new by His mercy and His great love.

I tried to avoid writing this post today.  My writing is uneducated and the thought of trying to express all that was on my heart about God’s character seemed as silly as handing a three year old a crayon and asking her to replicate the Sistine Chapel.

I decided to write this post with full knowledge of the fact that the only way one can understand this is to know Him intimately themselves.  You don’t have to question if He will accept you.  Don’t believe for an instant that whatever you have done in this life has put you outside the reaches and grace of Gods perfect love. Believe me when I say that nothing delights Him as much as one of His children accepting His love and turning to Him in repentance and faith.

I wish I could write you a pretty little story that would sum up the immeasurable depths of His love, beauty and goodness; but for this I have no words to give because the ones I have, have all been written on my heart.  Written there by the author and perfecter of my faith.

He wants you to come to know this for yourself.

He certainly has been faithful to show me.

And like a bird I fly into the wonders of His love.

Free and without fear.

A daughter saved by His grace.

~ Deon

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Lead me Home

“Jesus is Victor”

The words come to me at unexpected times. Sometimes, like truth flashing into my darkness and at other times when I have grown weary of my own way and reach desperately for Him.  Ever in need of His promises to wash over me and renew me once again.

Time and healing have moved slowly as I have begun to emerge from beneath the burden of relentless pain.  What once seemed like it would never end has begun to release its grip and I am learning to live again.  My chiropractor said something to  me this week and I believe what he meant physically I can also apply spiritually.  He said, “You have some range of motion back but you have no idea how to use it.”  My shoulder does not move normally.  In fact it doesn’t move like a shoulder at all. As a result, I often hinder my own progress and even cause my self further suffering.

Isn’t that the way of my heart lately?

Pain and new losses have left me feeling weary and with a dull vision of my Lord’s promises. Consequently, having more range of emotions but forgetting how to use them. Losing sight of the fact that emotion not firmly set on the foundation of God is a precarious place to stand.

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’, and do not do what I say?  As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.  They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock.  When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.  But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Luke 6:46-49

As a result, I found myself trying to set up camp in the dark places of my heart. It’s amazing how something that should cause me to shudder can disguise itself as comfort and familiarity. Led astray by my own willfullness, I looked around and thought that maybe a life of compromise wouldn’t be so bad.  Maybe, I should set my tent here.  Maybe, I should start laying my foundation.  The lie that I wasn’t fit for the life of a follower of God crossed my mind and I began to resign myself to the destiny of the generations before me.

When one who has looked upon the glory of God and worshipped beneath the shadow of His wings this is quite a miserable place to find yourself. Thankfully, my tent pegs couldn’t find their grip in the shifting sand and His light began to shine once again into my darkness .

Shame beckoned me to stay.

Grace called me to find my way home.

Jesus is Victor

Jesus reminded me of a promise He gave me some years ago.  He showed me the foundations of my life being rebuilt. Literally taken down to the dust.  There He began to rebuild.  In the corner I saw a stone.  Alive with color and light.

My Jesus.

My cornerstone.

A sure foundation on which to build my life.  The soil would need to be prepared and I feared I would not have the tools to prepare it.  I asked for the softening of rain to plow the earth.  He showed me that in many places the soil of my heart was hard and large boulders would block my progress.  When I despaired that  I could never complete this work; He showed me Himself beside me.  Moving the stones for me, working the ground with me. Encouraging and helping me all the way. King of Kings and Lord of Lords on His knees beside me in the dirt of my heart.

So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.  I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place.” Isaiah 28:16-17

When I find myself wandering from the path of His love the God of endurance and encouragement (Romans 15:5) doesn’t punish me. Doesn’t turn His back. Doesn’t leave. The one who has my heart leads me back by way of His perfect and unconditional love. Once again, His kindness leads His often wandering child to repentance.

Once again His love leads me home.

~ Deon 

And So It Is

Tears ran down my cheeks as I started the slow slide into the MRI machine.  I’ve never thought of myself as claustrophobic but the image of the pain that was sure to tear through my shoulder and down my arm like a freight train with no way to sit up or change position had set me on edge.

Or maybe I was already dangling precariously from said edge.  The frozen shoulder that is attempting to preside over my world has worn out its welcome.  Relentless, mind numbing pain doesn’t make for a kind bedmate and the fatigue has begun to wear me down.  Our home is my refuge and even though this condition lurks around every corner there, I have freedom to cry , rest or change position as needed.  However, responsibilities abound and work has become increasingly taxing as the days have turned into months.

My friends tell me I’m stubborn but it’s survival really as I grit my teeth and carry on. My resolve is weakening and every day I contemplate if this is the day I make the decision that I just can’t work through it anymore.  That morning it felt like a true blessing when they text me, telling me they loved and supported me and thought I should go home and rest after my MRI.  The pride that would usually cause me to tell them “Thank you, but I’ll be to work as soon as I’m done”, was replaced with tears of gratitude as I had just been wondering if I could make it through the day.

Just the first of the Lord’s kindness to me on this fall morning, there was more to follow.  I had asked God to allow the MRI tech to be kind and compassionate.  The smiling young man who came to get me seemed as if he would fit that bill.  He worked efficiently while simultaneously addressing my concerns.  His cheerful attitude encouraged me and I assured him I would do my best not to squeeze the emergency ball that would send them running to fetch me from the tube.  I second guessed him a little when he asked me to remove my glasses. Blind AND anxious didn’t seem like a good mix to me but I complied and before I knew it I was in the machine.

Fear turned out to be nothing more than a lie from the enemy as peace fell on me like a blanket as I began the test. The half hour that I thought would feel like an eternity passed quickly as I talked to Jesus about His promises to me.  It made me smile to think that Jesus promises to never leave me or forsake me and that the restricted space was no barrier to the God of the universe.  Pain seemed distant as I lay there and I even managed to lay perfectly still.  My MRI helper and I were both surprised when I emerged and he joked that I did better than we both thought I would.

“Her father said, ‘Corrie, when you go by train from Haarlem to Amsterdam, when do I give you the train ticket?  Several days before?

“No, Daddy, the day I go to travel.”

“And so it is with God.  Now you do not need the grace to suffer, but if the moment comes when you need it, He will give you the grace.  He will give you the train ticket right on time..”

-Corrie ten Boom ~ Her Life Her Faith A biography by Carole C. Carlson

Oh dear reader.  So it is with God.

He gave me the peace and the grace at the very time that I needed it.

frozen4

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?  Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?  O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are Holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.  In you our Fathers trusted; they trusted and you delivered them.  To you they cried and were rescued ; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

Psalm 22:1-5

Every moment recently is struggle.  In the dark when agony leaves me feeling scorched and the enemy whispers, “Why do you think God loves you? What did you do to make Him so angry with you? Sinner.  He can’t use you.  You are broken. Did God really say……?”, I call out to my God in praise.

There was a time I would have been crippled by such accusations, but those times are growing smaller and smaller in my rear view mirror.

I am learning with ever increasing confidence Who. My. God. Is.

His anchor is settling down somewhere deep in my soul. The storm may be able to toss me about but it certainly cannot move Elohim. In His strength I hope.

Nothing can remove His love from me or my love for Him.

His love for me is everlasting, steadfast and unfailing.  It has nothing to do with how I perform in this life nor is it reflected by my trials or lack thereof.  My God is my comfort.  My God is my refuge.  My God is an EVER present help in time of trouble.

This I know.

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,  that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.   O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever!” Psalm 30:11-12

Stand firm dear one.  Your God cannot be moved.

~ Deon

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  I want to acknowledge the fact that while this condition has been terribly painful, it doesn’t last forever.  It is temporary and will eventually pass.  So many are dealing with grief, depression or chronic pain that seems to have no end in sight.  May we not ignore them or pass them by.  May we not get tired of being a listening ear or a helping hand. I pray that we would be encouragers who bear each others burdens and that we would take the extra time to really know people and meet them in their place of need.  These conditions can be difficult to detect but if we’ll take the time, we’ll be able to see.  If we’ll have the heart, we’ll be able to offer compassion, love and hope. 

Is there someone in your life who needs your encouragement today?

Hope

*My apologies if this poem is difficult to  read on your device.  I clearly have a lot to learn about formatting poetry on WordPress.  Thank you for your patience.*

Hope for your struggles,
Hope for your thorns,
Hope for all that makes
you feel battered and worn.

 

Hope for the sharp edges,
Hope when you're down,
Hope for the promise
of that future crown.

 


Hope that won't tarnish,
Hope that will last,
Hope when you can't seem to shake
 the wounds of your past.

 

Hope in the waiting,
Hope in the still,
Hope for our longing hearts,
our Jesus to fill.

 

Hope in His presence,
In beholding His face.
Hope in His love for us,
sweetest of grace.

 

Hope that's He's risen.
Hope that He lives,
Hope in a coming King,
willing to give
 Redemption
and
Rescue
 making us right.
To stand before our Savior in His
glorious light.

 

Hope in my Lord,
all of my days.
In my
precious Savior,
and all
of His ways.

Deon
April 2015

Frozen

Pain – 1. Physical suffering or distress as due to injury, illness etc.  2.  Mental or emotional suffering or torment.

Pain in its many forms is a common denominator for those of us who share this world. Pain has no favorites.  It touches all of us regardless of age, race, religion or gender.  Every person at one point or another comes under its influence.

In our culture today it seems we do all we can to avoid pain.  Children are often protected from even the most mild of sufferings.  As adults we often have difficulty coping with even minor set backs or disappointments. We have endless and easily available methods to soothe any discomfort.  Pills, smoke, drink, social media, endless ways to meet any and every sexual desire, mindless entertainment, the list goes on and on.  We may say we participate for pleasure but more often than not I believe these are methods to escape our pain.

Many people refuse to acknowledge or even choose to hate a God who allows suffering.  Their reasoning is that a good and loving God wouldn’t allow the atrocities that pepper our planet.  They believe that tribulation is so wide spread that God must be either cruel or absent.

I myself have had to take a good hard look at what I think of my God as I have certainly had my share of hurt in recent years.  My marriage died and was thankfully fully and beautifully resurrected, but it was a year filled with deep confusion and pain.  Almost immediately after our family was restored, my mom entered into a battle with cancer that was made all the more painful by her subsequent battle with alcoholism.  My husbands auto-immune disease and chronic pain has increased in intensity in recent years.  Our precious niece died a sudden, tragic and unexpected death.  We have suffered. We have mourned. We have known heartbreak.

I’m here to testify that my God has been faithful and present through every moment of every trial.  If we had time over a cup of coffee I would happily share with you the beauty and kindness He has shown through all of it.

Recently,  I’ve been introduced to a new kind of pain.  My own personal physical pain.  I have adhesive capsulitis or “Frozen Shoulder”.  I had never heard of it before it brought my life to a standstill.  Literally freezing my normal day to day activities until I can do little but try to find some comfort in ice packs and heating pads.

frozen3

“Adhesive capsulitis is a painful and disabling disorder of unclear cause in which the shoulder capsule, the connective tissue surrounding the glenohumeral joint of the shoulder, becomes inflamed and stiff, greatly restricting motion and causing chronic pain.  Pain is usually constant, worse at night, and with cold weather.  Certain movements or bumps can provoke episodes of tremendous pain and cramping.” – Wikipidia

“People who suffer from adhesive capsulitis usually experience severe pain and sleep deprivation for prolonged periods due to pain that gets worse when lying still and restricted movement/positions. – Wikepidia

Frozen shoulder is no walk in the park.

Before I go on, I have to confess something about my skewed attitude toward physical hurts.  My dad was a man oblivious to pain.  It was a character trait that stood out in him and demanded to be noticed.  I watched him trip and splash acid on his face once.  It barely turned his skin pink.  When he got a tick embedded in his neck it didn’t faze him a bit to have my mom put a cigarette on his throat to force the parasite out.  A 2×4 broke in half and embedded itself partially into his stomach.  His only remedy was to have my mom rub some sea salt on it.  When the cancer took hold in his lungs I watched him continue to outwork men half his age until nine years later when he finally lost the battle.

He simply refused pain. He had no time for it and he would proudly tell you that he was too mean for it.

I have always liked to think I was like my dad in that way.  He had strong genes with a family history of longevity so I must too. Don’t get me wrong.  Any of you who know me probably don’t see me as much of a tough girl, but I can deny my own pain with the best of them.  When it comes to my health and my body I prefer to be the boss, thank you very much.

Turns out that’s rooted in a huge mess of pride, but that’s a story for another day.

Frozen shoulder is a mighty humbler.  It is relentless; present in every second of every day.  It is ravenous; eating up my days and my nights with tears and agony.  It is cruel; intensifying at night just as the exhaustion of the day sets in and I am hoping to escape it through sleep.

So I cling to, depend on and wrestle with Jesus.

Fully confident He is both able and willing to heal.  Completely aware that may not be His will.  I’m so grateful that my Lord is not simply words on a page but the Living Christ that understands my suffering and never leaves my side.  He is a God who can bear to listen to me cry out to Him about the misery of this intruder.

Deny Him? Curse Him? Cry out Against Him?  Truly I can’t imagine.

My cupboard is now full of magnesium oil, turmeric, apple cider vinegar, iron, cod liver oil and B-12.  I am actively doing everything in my power to lessen the inflammation in my body and lessen the intensity and length of this illness. I’m even avoiding sugar and coffee if you can imagine.

As some of you know I choose not to drink anymore due to my family history and my own addictive personality but I have had drinks during this time to try to find some sort of relief.  I even tried marijuana capsules after all these years of walking away from it in hopes of escaping the endless misery.

While the healthy supplements above have been positive the reality is that it all falls short. The methods I used to try and numb my mind from pains effects have been counterfeit and lacking in any sort of help at all.  Again I walk away.

The love, encouragement and prayers of my family and friends have been so valuable to me. My loving husband has been doing everything he can to help me during this time. I don’t know what I would do without his love and care. I appreciate it all the more due to the fact that his own health and chronic pain is in such an aggravated state at present.

All of this means more to me than anyone can even know but there are times when this has to be walked alone.  In the middle of the night when I can’t do anything but cry, there is only one I can turn too.

As I cry with my Jesus in the dead of night I think often about His suffering on the cross.  I think about the heartbreak of the betrayal He must have felt as the people He had loved and healed demanded His death.  No wound goes as deep as betrayal as it penetrates the heart and mind.  I know He understands all the heartache I have suffered at the hands of others.

I remember how He allowed Himself to be scourged for us.  A torture not only meant to be humiliating but horrific as the whip ends were covered with lead balls or bone fragments.  Not just a whipping but a tearing of the flesh.  Not just a tearing of the flesh but a tearing of the heart.  I believe He understands all of the physical pain any of us can possibly endure.

I cry as I think of how Jesus was willing to humble Himself; to be spit on, mocked, laughed at and beaten beyond recognition. The Almighty God of all the universe with the armies of the heavens at His disposal yet willing to carry His cross to the hill for a people who had rejected Him, humiliated Him and tortured Him.  He was innocent.  Completely without sin, yet He allowed spikes to be driven through His hands and feet.  He hung there and endured as it was increasingly hard to take in even a gasping breath. Death on a cross meant suffocating under the burden of your own weight.  He was offered wine mixed with myrrh which was a narcotic drink intended to dull some of the indescribable pain. Yet he denied it. Choosing to be fully aware as He suffered. Fully aware so He could fully understand.

Finally, He bore all of our sin.  Every bit of it.  Every small sin that you hardly think twice about as well as the most awful, disgusting things that you wouldn’t dare even whisper in the dark. Our sins that cause unthinkable amounts of hurt, suffering and pain in our world. The sins of those who believe Him and the sins of those who choose not too.  The Father can’t look on sin and so in those terrible moments He had to look away from His precious son that He loves so perfectly and Jesus had to bear the weight, guilt and shame born out of the darkness of the human heart as well as feel the full separation from His Father.

All to make a way for each and every one of us.

Those who choose Him.

Those who don’t.

He took a way without shortcuts.  He chose a way ripe with suffering so He would know ours.  He did what He didn’t have to do.  In every moment of that horrific day He had  choice.  In every second He could have decided a different outcome.

He didn’t.

He chose you.

This world has been fallen since we chose to go against God’s way in the garden.  He would have been perfectly in the right to leave us in a hopeless state of separation from Himself.  Instead,  He has made a way through His death and resurrection to make a way home for us.

Some would suggest that suffering suggests a heartless and hateful God. I submit that I have read and agree with the fact that if He ended suffering He would also have to end free will.  We would be little more than puppets.  If He ended free will, love would end. Love that is demanded or forced upon us isn’t love at all.

Our God doesn’t look upon us from a high and lofty throne immune to all that hurts us.  He looks upon us through eyes of mercy and love as one who has endured the deepest depths of heartache and suffering.  He reaches out as one who has walked among us and is intimately acquainted with our pain.

Know this, if you have rejected and despised Jesus your whole life this message is for you too.  No one is beyond the boundless reaches of His grace. We are all equal at the foot of the cross and He will accept with open arms any who acknowledge their sin, turn from it and turn to the one who alone can save.

For those who are bound physically or otherwise, I encourage you to trust Jesus with every minute of it.  He sees you.  He loves you.  He will see you through.

Hold on dear one, when hope seems to have grown cold.  There is hope eternal. There is light.  There is freedom from bondage.

You may even find a bit of beauty in it.

frozen

Love,

Deon

Vines, Branches and Fruit

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. John 15:4-5

Abide in me, and I in you…..

                Abide in me, and I in you…….

It has taken many years for me to begin to understand this concept. Many times my lessons are learned by so much faithful repetition on the part of my Lord.

Abide means to sit, remain, dwell, await, sojourn, encamp.

I understand all the words but what does that look like in my life? How do I do any of those things in Him? 

My eyes review the list again. These words are equally about remaining as they are about moving. Going forward. Staying put. Traveling our path. Driving in our tent stakes and staying awhile.

It makes sense when I think about it. This mighty God moving everywhere in power and strength is the same one who never leaves me. He is at once beautifully fluid and yet perfectly stationary. The one who moves the mountains is the same God who I trust as my solid foundation.

He calls me to abide. To remain in Him ~ in both my comings and my goings. There again I trip, as I try to wrap my head around five letters. In Him.

Certainly it sounds closer than being with Him, by Him, or around Him. In Him is such a vivid picture of the intimate life He calls me to. A life fully immersed in this one I call Lord.

I have to smirk at myself a little as I realize that sounds a bit like I’m implying I have it all together.  Trust me when I say that nothing could be further from the truth. I am a woman daily in need of the forgiveness of my Savior.

A dear friend often reminds me to remain in His love. There is no sweeter place to be. No safer place. So there I stay. Whether, I am having a day rich in victory or a day where I am looking for the reset button and am needing to go to the Lord in humble repentance.

In all things I am in Him.

He is in me.

This is possible only because God Himself took on flesh, walked among us, laid down His life, took our sins on Himself, died on the cross, was laid in a tomb and rose again.

Victorious.

For you.

For me. 

He hasn’t called me to a life of half truths and half hearted semi-following. Nor has he called me to a life of self righteous living where I struggle and strain to earn my way into His good graces. No. The first would leave me wanting and lost. The latter would find me unable and defeated.

Instead, He has called me to a place where I understand that He is the Only way. He has called me to know His character. He has  called me to give all of myself because He gave all of Himself.

He has called me to be a branch attached and dependent on the one life giving and eternal vine.

I think back to our first tomato plant this summer. It amazed me to watch the perfect green orbs spring forth on that vine.  The joy of watching them ripen in the summer sun was second only to their bright flavor and the pleasure I took in eating something I watched my  husband water and care for every day.

Had I cut the branches and left them on the sidewalk they wouldn’t have brought forth any fruit. Or if fruit had already been present it would have failed to ripen and the gift it was intended to be would never have come to pass.

Attached to the nutrient rich vine the branches grew and bore fruit that we enjoyed for months. These little tomatoes weren’t all ripe at the same time. Some were red while their neighbors were green but eventually the vine brought them all they needed to ripen and be harvested.

My affections were drawn to the beauty of the fruit but I am wise to remember the necessity of the vine and I am grateful for the sustaining life found there.

Both for my tiny tomatoes and for my own wandering heart.

~ Deon

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  John 15:9

Honey and the Stone

“So much to say and nothing at all.  My thoughts drifting down like leaves in the fall…”

I have wanted to pick up my pen many times over the last month.  So many thoughts running through my head.  None of them seemed to be coming together in a way I would want to share with those kind enough to read my posts. Today is no different from the others, yet I feel compelled to try to bring sense to some of what has been on my heart and trust God with the rest.

As I have sought to write about the hope I have in my Jesus  it fascinates me that everything in my life and the life of those I love seems to be pointing directly away from this hope I proclaim.  My life has known many difficult seasons but never one so overflowing with tragedy as the one of late.

Death, cancer, loss, finances, physical pain, illness, politics, relational struggles……The list goes on and on. If I’m not touched by these hardships, someone I love is.

Hope wanes.  Sorrow is heavy.  Pain is a burden.

I’m weary.

How do I share hope when I’m struggling to see it?  How do I encourage when I need encouragement? I find myself on my face again crying out to God.  He meets me there as He always does and as I pour out all that wounds He lifts my head and I cry out again.  This time with praise.  A time of mourning transformed into a time of worship.

The promises of my King pierce the darkness and I remember hope.  Or truer still, hope remembers me and I am made new.  It is here I see that the trials don’t point me away from Jesus, they point me to Him.  What would seem to divide is actually a place of sweet union.  What seems hopeless is actually a place with the promise of renewal as our God makes all things new in the perfect timing of His love.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  Romans 5:35 ESV

This is not to suggest that the grief is gone, circumstances changed or that a single second of this is easy. On the contrary.  Rather it is about the fact that hope and pain are not independent of each other.  They are not realities that refuse to be reconciled. The moments of my deepest sorrows have often been intermingled with times of my sweetest joy as I walk with Jesus through my suffering.

Jesus holds you in the dark of the night when all seems lost and your thoughts betray you.  He hears you when your tears pour from the injustice of it all.  He sees these babies left behind, precious ones lost, your friend growing weaker by the day. He stands with you in the uncertainty of this election, when you are waiting for your test results and when your marriage is struggling to hang on.  He hears you when the one you held when they were new is now an adult turning their back on God.  He loves you when you rage against Him or believe that there is no God at all.

Dear one, trust Him in your pain.  Praise Him in your heartache.  Take His hand as you walk through the fire.  Or maybe it is time to stop rejecting Him and running from Him and give yourself into His care.

He is worthy.  He is able.  He is willing.  He is good.

He will never leave you or forsake you.

Jesus came for you. Jesus died for you.  Jesus rose again for you. Jesus is coming back for you.

It is beautiful to sing His praise from the top of the mountain, but it is glory to sing to Him in the darkness of the valley.  May you walk with Him there sweet one, as He brings Honey from the Stone.

~ Deon