Grief and Gratitude

 

 

Psalm 42:5

Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

 

This is the verse I often recite when I wake up with a burdened and weary soul.  When the day before me looks like a road I'm too feeble to travel, I recite this verse. Some days I have to recite it two or three times, some days I recite it ten.

And it lifts me.  That's what the word of God does. It lifts us. It transforms us. It encourages and inspires us. It guides us. It sets our eyes on Christ. It quenches the thristy soul.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. (Ps 42:1)

 

 

Scripture has been my saving grace over the last 12 days. Scripture, memorized and hidden in my heart, has carried me this week. Grace, flowing down and into my core, through God's holy, infallible, and inspired word.

 

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:2-3)

 

"Yes Lord Yes" I pray as I read those words in Psalm 40.  Your word speaks right to my heart. It says, "I know and I love you." It says "I have each moment of your day covered in my perfect plan. I know of the storm and I long to teach you to praise me- Not only in this storm but in every storm."

 

The Lord will fight for you- you need only be still (Exodus 14:14)

And give thanks.

I hear it over and over again - swirling around in my head.

 

Psalm 40:5

Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.

 

It’s been twelve days now since Sandy hit. Twelve days that, for the most part, have brought more joy then I would have dared to dream.  While our circumstances seem to have gone from bad to worse, His faithfulness is too great to declare.

 

Grief and gratitude. There have been tears of both. But joy prevails when we give thanks.

 

We have spent three nights here, four nights there, five nights here- house hopping from one wonderful family to the next while waiting to hear what’s next.

“What’s next?”  That’s the question Mike asked me on Sunday morning before we left for church. And I think my answer left Mike just as surprised as it left me.

The words were rolling off my tongue before I had time to give the question any thought.

“I don’t know what's next. Let's just see what the Lord will do."

Mike looked at me like I had three heads because I'm usually the kind of girl that says "the glass is half-empty."  I don't like that about myself, it's just the truth.  Mike is the hopeful one.

"Really?"  he asked  "Okay then. I love that.  Let's see what the Lord will do. In the meantime I'm going to start emptying out the garage and figuring out how to get our things to the dump."

I headed to church - how I desperately needed to be with our Trinity family that morning- and was blessed by Gordon MacDonald's preaching.  He led the men's retreat on Saturday and stayed to preach on Sunday. He spoke of Moses and faithfulness. It was exactly what my heart needed to hear.    But the most wonderful part of the service came when Gordon shared Exodus 14:13 - a verse that echoed the very thing Mike and I had said to each other as we got ready for church.

 

Exodus 14:13

Moses answered the people, "Don't be afraid! Stand still, and see what the LORD will do to save you today.

 

There it was again- see what the Lord will do! God's word- encouraging, lifting, inspiring, and affirming. Affirming the words we'd spoken to one another just a few hours earlier.

 

And if you read my last post, you know how I have clung to the verse that comes just after Exodus 14:13…....

The Lord will fight for you- you need only be still  (Exodus 14:14)

 

 

 

The Lord is fighting for us, and we are learning to be still.  Not “still” in the sense that we aren't actively doing things to sort out the chaos but “still” in the sense that there is an assuredness, a peace, a calm in my soul.

There is a trust that He is CARRYING us through this.

And there is a sense that we are being emptied out -

Emptied of pride.  I don't like asking for help and I really don't like accepting help but the only thing I have been allowed to do for 12 days straight is ask for and accept help. Yes, emptied of pride.

Emptied of foolishly thinking I have any control over my life. The chaotic and unsettled nature of our life has assured me I don't, not even a little bit.

Emptied of security in worldly things because I am reminded how little those things really mean as I watch the pick up truck cart them off to the dump.

Emptied of self-sufficiency because I do not have the strength to go through this alone.  Every time I think "I can't" God says "But I can. I will fight for you. You need only be still.......and give thanks"

 

Emptied out for grace to fill- for thanksgiving to have it’s rightful place in my heart.

 

 

This emptying- it reminds me of a question - a wonderfully wild and beautiful question- I was taught to ask a couple years back while doing a discipleship course (written by Mike Breen) with a small group of women. And it's a question we are teaching our boys to ask. The question is this:

 

What is God's invitation to me in this circumstance?

 

The question points to “Kairos” moments.

Kairos is the eternal God breaking into your circumstances through an event, opportunity, or awareness.

God Breaking in. Demonstrating His love. Revealing His glory.

The magnificent in the mundane.

Kairos.

And here, I know, the invitation is to give thanks for His grace in all things.

 

His invitation ~

Give thanks for the grace I have shown you.

Give thanks for the generosity, the kindness, and the love from those around you.

Give thanks for the hope I have planted in your heart.

Give thanks for my presence that gives you peace that passes all understanding.

Give thanks for the way I have drawn your boys together and strengthened your family’s love for one another.

Give thanks that I have filled you up to overflowing with blessings too many to count in the things that matter most.

Give thanks for what you are learning.

 

Luke 1:46

Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.

 

Give thanks, not for your circumstances, but for MY unfailing faithfulness IN your circumstances.

Give thanks, not just for what I give you, but for who I am.  

Give thanks for my holy, infallible, inspired word.  My written word that quenches your thirsty soul and directs your path.  My word that says, "I know what you are going through, and I love you. I will not leave you or forsake you. I am your mighty fortress.  I will not let you go."

 

Psalm 107:1

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endues forever.