do not lose heart

Point Loma Lighthouse

It is there, in the midst of trying to find a way through the darkness and the doubting of ever being in the light again. It is there, in the tears spilling down the cheeks and  the weight heavy on a chest in the middle of the night. It is there, in the crushing feeling of discouragement weaving into your soul and in the hurt echoing loud in your soul. It is there, in the pain woven into your bones and the confusion mudding the whole circumstance. It is there, in the mess of the relationships lost and in the brokenness of losing our loved ones. It is there, in the permanent scars and in your world falling completely apart.

It is there, the questioning and hard doubting: Lord, where are You in this? How can there be any purpose in any of this?

This fallen world, these impossible circumstances and broken people — I find myself questioning. I am desperately searching for answers, to understand what God is accomplishing through these hard moments that are breaking me. The weariness settles into my bones when I cannot find any answers, tears come down as waterfalls when I confess to the Lord, and to others, that my faith is weak.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

But it is there, the still small voice speaking in the midst of the impossible and the difficult. Do not lose heart, beloved.

This present trial, these hard circumstances and messy hearts — they are here but for a moment. This will not last forever. Even more so, they are working for us a glory that is brighter, more amazing and this will last forever. So fix your eyes on the things unseen. Still your heart before Him, my friend, and lay down your heart. Lay down your hurt. Surrender your all to the Maker of your heart, knowing that His are gentle hands and they are holding your heart together. Look at the things which are not seen, listen to the voice of Truth that echoes bright in your heart for that small moment.

It is all working out for eternity.

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trust God at all times

In awe of God's beauty

“So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:38-40)

These days, I have been reminded of the brave faith of David, who went to the battle to fight Goliath with only a slingshot and no stones — his trust wholly in God and that God would deliver Goliath into his hand and win the fight for David. This brave faith of David won the battle against a whole army, the enemy — because this faith looked to God and God alone to carry him through the valley and into the victory.

And I know, our faith is often far away from anything resembling brave and we think, we long for any amount of courage in the midst of facing the hardships and trials of this life. But this I know, that our gracious Saviour will meet the neediest of souls, and His love will not let go. In this world that has lost all sight of love because the dark shadows rule the night — His love will come through, His will break the chains and set us free.

“Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” (Psalm 62:8)

My friend, the most beautiful, brave faith is that which trusts God at all times. No matter the struggle, the trial — our God is always greater. So we can pour our hearts before Him, trusting Him with all our desires and thoughts, feelings and fears, worries and despairs. He is strong enough to carry them for us, and to care for us. He is a refuge, a safe place through every struggle, trial, and change.

Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for You are close beside me.” (Psalm 23:4 NLT)

Maybe you have been walking in the valley of the shadow of death these days, the darkness having taken over and the mountains before you and behind you. Maybe you have been climbing for a while now and yet, the top of the mountain is nowhere in sight and all you know is this valley. Yet, even here, in the valley of the shadow of death we know — these are only shadows. Beloved, these are only shadows. Sometimes the shadows take over, focus our gaze over the darkened spot and we only see the darkest valley ahead of us.

Beloved, know this: your God is close beside you. When the world crumbles under you feet; when the waters rise and your faith seems to sink deep — you are never beyond mercy’s reach. The Almighty, All-Powerful God is right there, close beside you and His right hand holding you up. And He will come through, bright and glorious like the morning sun — and all will be well.

Psalm 130

“Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning— yes, more than those who watch for the morning.” (Psalm 130:1-2, 5-6)

Lately, I have been often reminded that we are fighting a battle even now, that our soul is constantly at war. But walking through that valley of the shadow of death, we know in our hearts what this Psalmist is trying to convey by saying that our soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning. Because when we are surrounded by darkness in the battle, the morning does not seem to come soon enough and we wait for the morning with all that we are, our soul waits for the light that makes us able to see our surroundings, makes us able to see everything clearly once again.

Yet, it is in those dark depths — when we are absolutely broken and empty; when we have nothing to give to the Lord but our pain and sorrow and doubt and fears — that our prayers are the most real. It is in those deep places, those moments when we are weary and worn, that we give all that is in our hearts to the Lord as we cry out to Him in prayer. What a comfort it is to know that even out of the depths our prayers will rise up to the Lord, and that He will hear the cry that is meant for His ears.

Matthew Henry says that “it is our privilege that in the greatest depths we may cry unto God and be heard.” Even in the silent supplications there is a voice that God will hear, even when we can’t find words to express all that is in our hearts. But He knows.

“My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” (Psalm 62:5,7-8)

Expecting God to come to us in love, we wait for His appearing, whatever situation we are in. And if God makes us wait, let us do it with our whole hearts and souls. Let us pour out our hearts to Him, knowing that He is that safe place for us, that place where we are completely surrounded by safety. God is always worth waiting for, whether it is His will or His timing or whatever else we are waiting for — and later on, we will find that God was working something great in us through that period of waiting. He gives beauty for ashes and He can make something absolutely wonderful out of our brokenness now.

 

God is our defense

File 26-02-2016, 21 16 35

“Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be greatly moved.” (Psalm 62:1-2)

There are these days that feel like the rainy days of our lives, the ones where we seem to drown in the waves of sorrow or pain, rejection or despair — and the rain keeps on pouring, the weight of our pain or sorrow heavy on our hearts. The ache in our soul comes with an echo, every string of our heart tied to that pain and somewhere in the midst of drowning we wonder, if we are able to take more than this.

Many a time, our greatest sorrows seem only greater in the valley; those places where mountains are surrounding us and the enemy marches right behind us. Many a time, our pain looms greater over us in the midst of the night, our eyes unable to see anything beyond the darkness.

But right there, in the midst of the storm — see, beloved? That firm foundation beneath your feet, set your eyes on the rock that stands great in front of you; that unmovable, unshakeable rock. This is our God, our God who created the heavens and the earth. Our God who lead His people to that impossible place of facing a sea in front of them and an army behind them — so that He could show them that He makes a way where there is no way. He is our defense — our God who parted the Red Sea; who lead with a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire; who walked the road of shame and pain to the Calvary just so that we could be with Him for eternity.

My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.” (Psalm 63:8)

I love these words of David, these trusting words spoken out of a broken and battered heart. These are the words spoken in the midst of wilderness, from a soul that has been fleeing for a long time with only God to trust for provision. David followed close to God, this idea of partnership and closeness to God, this soul following right after the footsteps of God in the darkness and no idea where to go.

But it is seen in those moments spent in the deep darkness of the night, those footsteps following blindly after God — that it was His right hand upholding us all along, holding our hand and strengthening us, looking out for us. We need but to turn to Him to see that He is right here, right next to us, His hand firmly holding ours and His love pouring healing grace on our wounds. If only we were to see that in everything, we can turn to our gracious God and our loving Savior. He is greater than any problems, any trials that we face. He is greater than any of our sorrows. He is greater than any of our pain. He is greater, always. And we are His.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

how our failures can turn into victory

Snow and sunshine make for a beautiful Monday

“And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.” (Matthew 10:1-4)

That day, I was stuck on a name. So often there are those days, when something in a verse catches our eyes and sticks with us — a phrase, a meaning, a word, a name. Reading the gospel of Matthew, I skimmed through the list of these familiar names, these twelve apostles, though I always remember only 11 of them. But that name, my heart beat on the note of a name, this grace not quite understood. Because in between of these names and describing these people by their family name, by their relations or where they come from, is the humble admittance of the writer himself.

“Matthew the tax collector.”

Tax collectors, generally looked down by the people because of their greedy ways of stealing from the taxes to themselves. In the gospel of Mark, we see tax collectors put there right on the same line with sinners, the ones it was easy to place ones anger and hatred on.

Like these stories that God puts together so often, this line of Scripture did not fall without a cause, without a purpose. Because that day, my friend, I faced a major failure of my own — the one, when told to people, could have them look down on me just because these failures are not accepted in this society of ours, that strives on success and perfections, that calls for accepting everything while striking down anything not perfect, not in line with ones dreams of perfection.

I was not proud of this — never proud of my weaknesses and failures, never not shamed and completely wrecked by my shortcomings. But the knowledge of having to admit failure, is that brick walls built on your chest that steals the air from around you, makes it impossible to breathe and you know that this wall lets everyone see how the ground beneath is crumbling, how you are grumbling right there.

But there is the name, the example whispered soft to your heart because you know, you know that there is purpose beyond the pain and even now, on your knees with your expectations crushed, is where your heart bows right down low and something new can build roots.

The pain is there, this unstoppable circle of life that cannot be run away from, this slow unfurling of a hurt that rings deep. But it is never the end.

Because the soft whisper of a name — Matthew the tax collector — tells the story of a man hated and despised, of a man whose life changed by the simple phrase “Follow Me” and who knew, that to be identified by ones mistakes and failures, shortcomings and weaknesses? Is never the end, not in these stories written by our God. Because when God had called His twelve disciples to Him — the tax collectors and sinners, friends who would deny and betray, friends who would sleep through the hardest of His trials — He “gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.”

To speak out loud of your failures, to be identified by your mistakes — might not spell out brave in this broken world turned dark. But in God’s perspective, our confessed failures turn into victories won and our weakness only makes us strong.

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