Seizing Hope

We are urged to hold fast to two things – our confidence and our hope.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. Hebrews 10:35 

Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. Mark 10:50 

The above verses are the only places in the Bible where this word translated “throw away” or “throwing … aside” is used. It means to throw off, cast away, throw overboard. But these two verses are so completely different – one talking about a negative thing, throwing away your confidence in God, and the other such a picture of faith as the blind man throws aside his cloak to go to Jesus for healing – I knew there had to be a message for me in there somewhere. 

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 

The blind man threw off his beggar’s cloak and boldly, confidently approached Jesus. He could have sat there in self-pity, blaming God for his situation, viewing Jesus cynically as just another dead-end pipe dream delusion of the duped masses. He had a good reason to be bitter. 

“The ancient nations regarded blindness as the lowest degradation that could be inflicted upon man … The blind, together with cripples and lepers, were outcasts of society and kept quarantined outside the town limits; they became paupers and a menace to passers-by.” — Jewish Encyclopedia1 

So, what gave this degraded outcast the boldness to cry out from the dust at the side of the road and approach the Rabbi for healing? He had probably heard of the other healings. It was probably all the buzz in the outcast community. There was that something about Jesus that invited, that drew the rejected, the pariahs. And I think the reports of miraculous healings had conceived in this blind man a very foreign thing – hope. Hope had started to grow, and hope, paired with desperation, gave him boldness. 

The other verse, Hebrews 10:35, talks about throwing away your confidence. The word translated “confidence” in these two verses is parrésia and means “freedom of speech.” It means “free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance … the undoubting confidence of Christians relative to their fellowship with God.”2 Ellicott’s Commentary3 notes that “[t]o ‘cast away boldness’ is the opposite of ‘holding fast the boldness of the hope’” talked about in Hebrews 3:6. 

But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory. Hebrews 3:6 

We are urged to hold fast to two things – our confidence and our hope. Confidence, not in our outcast selves, but in what Jesus has done on the cross, and the hope that we have because what Jesus endured on the cross has brought us home and made us part of God’s family. No longer outcasts. If we hold down our hope, hold it fast, take possession, retain, seize on it, restrain it from wandering off. Let’s seize the hope and not let it go, but, like the blind man, let’s throw off our beggar’s cloaks of sin and lies received and bitterness and bad attitudes and pride. Let’s exercise our “freedom of speech” because the way into God’s presence has been opened up for us by Jesus. And let us come boldly, confidently before the throne so that we may receive mercy and grace in our time of need. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” Mark 10:51 

1Jewish Encyclopedia, Blind, the, in Law and Literature, by Richard Gottheil, Judah David Eisenstein https://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/3374-blind-the-in-law-and-literature 

2Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, and Thayer’s Greek Lexicon 

3Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers 

Image, Blind Beggar 1949 Kenya, by Sydney Oats https://flic.kr/p/68ZJYY  

Reminder

Oh by the way have I mentioned … ?

Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord. Psalm 117 

This short little Psalm  

in the middle of everything 

it almost seems to me like a reminder an  

Oh, by the way have I mentioned God’s love and faithfulness? 

a little bench by the side of the path 

a spot to wait a second and take a breath 

a chapter break to remember his great love and  

his forever-faithfulness 

be soothed, grow still 

this is where the plot is headed 

Praise the Lord, remember? 

get up and let’s walk some more 

Oh, by the way, have I mentioned … 

Photo by Jack Bair

Shaken Off

He shakes us forward and shakes us free.

For I am poor (depressed, in mind or circumstances, wretched, afflicted, 
humble, lowly, needy, poor)

and needy (in want, a beggar, needy, poor),

and my heart (inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding, seat of courage)

is wounded (profaned, defiled, polluted, desecrated, violated, wounded, pierced)

within me (my inward part, seat of thought and emotion, my center).

I fade away like an evening shadow; I am shaken off like a locust. Psalm 109:22-23 

I can identify with all of this Psalm – the depression, the woundedness, the feeling like I am in darkness. But I can especially relate to that last line: “I fade away like an evening shadow; I am shaken off like a locust.”  

I can understand shaking off a locust or grasshopper in creepy disgust. The feel of their sticky little feet and they are ugly and they spit that brown goo. They are associated with curse and plague, eating everything in their path, destroying the green life. To me, this is like rejection, being viewed as creepy, disgusting, gross, and being shaken off. I feel like the real me was shaken off in my childhood, and I have been shaking myself off in self-hatred ever since. So, this is something that God is showing me that I have to work on for sure.  

On the other hand, locusts were considered a clean animal that you could eat, that could bring nourishment. According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, peoples in the Middle East were “accustomed to feed upon locusts, either raw or roasted and seasoned with salt (or prepared in other ways), and the Israelites also (according to Leviticus 11:22) were permitted to eat them.” John the Baptist ate them in the wilderness. 

John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. Matthew 3:4 

John’s food was locusts AND honey. And in that verse is an amazing hidden treasure. There was another time that God fed his people in the desert with honey – honey from the rock. Moses identified the Rock as the Lord God. 

He [the Lord] is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just … He nourished him [Israel] with honey from the rock … Deuteronomy 32:4, 13 

… with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” Psalm 81:16 

John was fed in the desert place with these creepy, disgusting insects AND the honey from the Rock. Isn’t that what God does? He makes us, creepy as we are, nourishment, food for a hungry world with Christ, as we abide in Christ? 

I have felt shaken off in disgust. Yet, as I looked at the meaning of the word translated “shaken” in Psalm 109, I found treasure there too. Cool thing about this word is that it is “a primitive root, probably identical with 05286 (means growl), through the idea of the rustling of mane, which usually accompanies the lion’s roar.”1 The Lion of Judah roars and I am shaken like a locust. 

But I don’t think He is roaring in disgust or rejection. He is roaring in anger at my sin and what the sins of others have done to me. He is roaring with the pain and groaning of a broken world. And like a lion shaking its mane, he will shake these things off and set me free. He will bring new life, resurrection. He will transform me by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2). 

Because, though I fade away like an evening shadow, or I am “like a late afternoon shadow made by the descending sun that will soon be swallowed up by complete darkness,”2 the Lord will bring me light.  

The word translated “shaken” in the Psalm, is the same word as used in Job 38:13 Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?” 

I love that verse, and I have blogged about it before, but now I see something else. Do you see it? The dawn arrives, the Light of the world comes and dispels the deepening darkness, and the earth is shaken, I am shaken. 

The Lion shakes his mane and roars. I am shaken off like a locust into a new day. Yet, not in disgust and rejection, but rather to “shake me forward and shake me free” as in the Rich Mullins song, Calling Out Your Name. 

From the place where morning gathers  
You can look sometimes forever ’til you see  
What time may never know  
What time may never know  
How the Lord takes by its corners this old world  
And shakes us forward and shakes us free  
To run wild with the hope  
To run wild with the hope   

Lion of Judah roar! I am depressed and wretched in my mind; my heart is wounded, pierced and violated. I have been shaken off and rejected as disappointing and disgusting. I am about to be swallowed up in the darkness. Bring your Light as the dawn and shake off my sticky little feet from clinging to this world, from wrong thinking and lies, from idolatries, from fear and doubt and despair. Sweep me up to run wild with you, wild with hope. 

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. Isaiah 40:22 

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe … Hebrews 12:28 

1Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance 

2NET Bible notes. 

Image by Michael https://flic.kr/p/8cP1vw  

Creaking and Spinning

Help me not to be afraid of the dance of joy. 

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you [spin around under the influence of violent emotion] with loud singing [creaking, singing, shout of joy, cry of gladness, joy, proclamation, rejoicing, triumph]. Zephaniah 3:17 

When I babysit my granddaughter, one of her all-time favorite things to do is to dance around in my arms singing at the top of our lungs. I have done this since she was an infant, dancing and singing to her. Lately, she has joined in with my creaky singing, a little off-key, but exuberantly and loudly. She especially loves to spin around when we are dancing. Her dad says she is an adrenaline junky. There are certain places in certain songs where we absolutely MUST spin around, and certain lyrics that MUST be sung/shouted with absolute joy. Especially, at least for me, joy in our relationship, gramma and granddaughter, and our love for each other. 

When I read the recent blog by Beholding Ministries, The God Who Sings, I saw how our singing and dancing around is a perfect picture of Zephaniah 3:17. And for the first time I was able to realize God’s joy over me described in this verse. His spinning me around I hope will someday soon produce, not out-of-control fear of being dropped, but belly-laughs-birthed-from-complete-trust-and-joy surrender into his strong hands. Because it does feel like I am spinning around these days. I cannot seem to focus on the horizon and I am tempted to panic. But I will remember that he is the mighty one who will save – who is saving no matter what things look like – who rejoices over me, his child, (singing loudly and NOT creaking, I’m sure!) with gladness, joy and triumph.  

Lord help me not to be afraid of the dance of joy. 

Photo by Reilly Images, LLC

He Comes

“The Lord cometh, even though we have to wait for him, he cometh even though we grow as old as Anne, as gray as Simon … but we must wait for him in his house.” — Kierkegaard, Journals, Dec. 31, 1838 

This quote by Søren Kierkegaard really captured my heart. We must wait for him in his house. The Anne and Simon to whom he refers is Simeon and Anna, the daughter of Penuel, written about in the second chapter of Luke. 

Simeon was the righteous man who met Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus in the Temple when they came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses. Luke writes of Simeon: 

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts … Luke 2:25-27 

The second person Kierkegaard refers to is the prophetess Anna, who was also in the Temple that day and every day: 

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38 

Simeon and Anna were waiting for the Messiah to come. They believed the scriptures about Him and they were looking for Him. They had been waiting all their lives. Perhaps they were thinking of this prophecy of Haggai: 

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations [the Messiah] will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Haggai 2:6-7 

They knew He was coming and they were waiting in the Temple to welcome him. Today we are the temple, both individually and joined together with other believers to become the true church. 

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. 1 Corinthians 6:19 

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:21-22 

The physical Temple in Jesus’ day, and before, was the place where the Shekinah glory of God dwelt above the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies. We are that Temple now, but only if we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, only if God lives in us by his Spirit. Think of that! Dwelling there in the temple with God, never leaving, always in the Presence. I believe that if we are always in His house, waiting, we will hear the shout and the trumpet call. We will see him when he comes, and we will be there to meet him. 

Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes … Psalm 96:12-13 

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” Hebrews 10:36-37 

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:20 

” … but we must wait for him in his house.” 

Image, Bright Sunrise, free download from Stockvault 

Incognito

“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.” — C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm 

Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of incognito: with one’s identity concealed.  

Synonyms for incognito: 

anonymous,    

faceless,   

innominate,  

nameless,  

unbaptized,  

unchristened,  

unidentified,    

unnamed,    

untitled 

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:37-40 

Image by Michael https://flic.kr/p/8cP1vw  

Is the Lord Among Us Or Not?

When bad things happen to us. When we find ourselves in the life-sucking desert with no water – is the Lord among us or not?

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. Exodus 16:4 

And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?” Exodus 17:7 

Reading the two verses above together was mind-blowing to me. The Hebrew word translated “test” in each of these verses is the same word. It is nasah (נָסָה) which means to test, assay, prove, tempt, try.  

It seems like there is a lot of testing going on in Exodus, God testing his people and his people testing God. I remembered Jesus, who being tested in the desert by the devil, quoted another verse which uses the word nasah, Deuteronomy 6:16.  

Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ Matthew 4:5-7  

And, I suddenly had the thought: if God tested the Israelites to see if they would follow his instructions, when we test God are we seeing if he will follow our instructions? Am I trying to hold God hostage to my agenda? 

Do not put the LORD your God to the test as you did at Massah. Deuteronomy 6:16 

And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?” Exodus 17:7 

One of the definitions of nasah is to “assay.” According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary online, to assay something is “to determine its purity,” and “to judge the worth of.” Think about those meanings when applied to the Holy God. 

When bad things happen to us. When we find ourselves in the life-sucking desert with no water – is the Lord among us or not? Is he the Holy God who cannot lie? Is his promise good? Is he worthy of my trust? 

When the devil “tested” Jesus in the desert he challenged Him to believe God’s promise.  

Then the devil took Him to the holy city and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple. “If You are the Son of God,” he said, “throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command His angels concerning You, and they will lift You up in their hands, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’”  

The devil must have thought he had Jesus now. If Jesus jumped, he would be playing the devil’s game, giving him power and indirectly, worship. And most likely Jesus would go splat, since jumping off the temple was not the will of God for Jesus. If Jesus didn’t jump, he would be admitting a lack of trust in God’s promise, right? See, the devil was trying to get Jesus, and the Father God, to follow his instructions. But instead of playing the game, Jesus held firm to the instructions he had been given by the Father. 

Jesus replied, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Matthew 4:5-7 

Jesus didn’t have to prove or assay his Father. Jesus had complete confidence in God’s promises and in his will. Jesus didn’t have an agenda. He didn’t have to prove his Lordship or his value or power. He didn’t come to be a big success or to be prosperous. He actually came to be nothing, a humble servant, following and completely fulfilling the instructions given to him by a God whom he knew to be good and loving and faithful all the time, even in the desert times of testing. And even so he wants me to follow after him. His instruction for me is to trust that He is with me here in the dry, deadly places, the impossible, bleak, and heart-gutting places. The places where I see no hope or way out. The times when everything I hoped for is gone, my agenda is shredded and I am reduced to nothing.  

Do you ever wonder what would have happened at Massah and Meribah if the Israelites had trusted God and waited for his salvation instead of despairing and turning against him? What would God have done? What amazing things could he have done? But instead, God let what happened happen for us! Speaking of the Israelites in the desert Paul wrote: 

Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.  1 Corinthians 10:11 

Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did. Psalm 95:8-9 

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 (ESV) 

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will (His instructions) for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 

Photo free download from Pexels, Great sand dunes in desert at sundown, by Chris Clark 

In the Middle of Doubt

As sure as the sunrise, whenever I stumble, He reaches out to catch me.

Doubt has been flapping around me like vultures over a half-dead animal. Struggling with the high stress of caregiving and accompanying health problems, wrestling with disappointment and maybe even anger at God about how things have turned out in my life. The unhealed lacerations of past trauma making it hard to feel or receive anybody’s love, God’s love. Feeling that God’s love is conditional toward me. That I haven’t been able to get it right. I haven’t said or done the “correct” thing yet. My daily Word another disapproving censure. Out of yet another dark place I reached out to my sweet (and may I say oh-so-patient) sister. She had this to say: 

“God’s Spirit came to live in believers through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of love. We now live in Roman’s chapter 8 love. No condemnation love. No separation love.”  

And then she prayed: 

“Lord, we need revelation to sink down into our hearts! Change us! We can’t do it without you. We want to love you more truly and deeply. Amen.” 

Yes, I need revelation. That flash of Light in my darkness. And, let me say with deep thankfulness that whenever – always, as sure as the sunrise – whenever I stumble, He reaches out to catch me. Almost immediately. I am humbled and undone. 

In my daily reading the next morning were Paul’s writings about Jesus, who came as a priest in the order of Melchizedek, “not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life” (Hebrews 7:16). That word translated “indestructible” means no, not, or without (in other words it is impossible to) dissolve, disunite, destroy, demolish, overthrow, to render vain, to deprive of success, bring to naught, to render fruitless one’s desires or endeavors, to deprive of force, annul, abrogate.  

Jesus’ life is indestructible and our lives are hidden in His (Colossians 3:3). His plans and purposes, His desire and will, His power, His unity with me in the Spirit, are indestructible, cannot be destroyed, dissolved, rendered vain – not even by my weakness and wounds.  

And then I noticed that in the margin I had written, years ago, “Romans 8:38-39.” Nothing is able to separate us from the love of God. Soon after, in my inbox came this from a daily devotional1 I follow: 

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 

OK, I’m listening. When this happens, I always know that God has a message for me.  

Well, the very next blog2 I read had this to say (thank you Alan Kearns!): 

“So often in life we are left scratching our head at how things have turned out; despite our best plans or efforts the unexpected has happened. We are left with a handful of question marks … we are mystified by the circumstances we find ourselves in, praying for His light on the matter … Be assured if you know Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, His Father is in control of your puzzle – He knows what the final picture is!” 

And then a link to this beautiful song. (Remember how I told you that God uses song lyrics to speak to me.) 

God Jehovah, Jehovah Rapha 

You’re our healer 

You and You Alone … 

In the middle of doubt 

In the thick of sorrow 

You say look up 

To where our help comes from 

If everything around us 

Says there is no hope 

We’re never gonna let go 

Of the hem of Your robe … 

We’re leaning on your power 

You’ll do what can’t be done … 

All depression, every worry 

Every sickness Lord, You heal 

All addiction, every family 

Every heartbreak Lord, You heal … 

You and You Alone3 

I looked up what Jehovah-Rapha means and found this at Got Questions. “Jehovah-Rapha has the power to heal physically (2 Kings 5:10), emotionally (Psalm 34:18), mentally (Daniel 4:34), and spiritually (Psalm 103:2–3). Neither impurity of body nor impurity of soul can withstand the purifying, healing power of Jehovah-Rapha.”4  

Yes, I need healing in all those areas – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. I need them all and I know He will do it. Because nothing can withstand His indestructible Life

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:35-37 

He opened the rock, and water gushed out; like a river it flowed in the desert. Psalm 105:41 

RAPHA – Stephen Mcwhirter & Jason Clayborn (ART Music & Video) 

1Henri J.M. Nouwen, Daily Meditation, November 5, 2022 

2https://devotionaltreasure.wordpress.com/2022/11/05/the-puzzles-of-life/  

3Jehovah Rapha by Stephen Mcwhirter and Jason Clayborn 

4https://www.gotquestions.org/Jehovah-Rapha.html 

Image, A shaft of sunlight pierces the threatening clouds, by Mark Levisay  https://flic.kr/p/J9cBSr   

All That I Had Hoped For (Lamentations 3:18-24)

My bright always 

never 

my perpetual victory 

annihilated 

all that I had hoped for 

gone 

I remember 

over and over 

my mind locked  

in misery 

cast out wandering 

stillborn expectations 

the poison of bitterness 

begetting deformed memories I cannot stop  

and I sink down 

down in the choking dust 

Yet  

my shattered soul won’t let you go 

Yet 

I turn back 

Yet  

I still dare to hope 

Yet  

I bare my envenomed heart for 

Your love never wanders 

Your compassions  

great love, tender, merciful, pity full  

like a mother with helpless child  

they never fail 

they are new 

delivered anew 

every morning 

as the sunrise 

sparkling on newborn manna 

absolute, unfailing hope 

You are my exuberant share 

therefore 

I will travail 

writhe 

twist 

bring forth  

the birthing you desire 

I wait longingly for 

You 

Drenched in Tears

Would we really know God as Father, as Friend, as good, as faithful, if we had never known abandonment, rejection, fear, the end of the road, the edge of the cliff, the sealed-up grave? 

I’m kind of reluctant to admit this, but most times God speaks to me at church more with the lyrics of the worship songs than with the sermon. Two songs in the last month have been light to me, O Praise the Name1, and Goodness of God2

Singing O Praise the Name Sunday, I was arrested by these lyrics: 

His body bound and drenched in tears 
They laid Him down in Joseph’s tomb 
The entrance sealed by heavy stone 
Messiah still and all alone 

I suddenly realized, or I guess it really sank in, that Jesus’ followers didn’t know he was going to rise from the dead. They didn’t know. Jesus’ dead body was drenched in tears.  

We are settled into the comfy assurance of the resurrection. Even people who aren’t Christians know Jesus rose from the dead. He is famous for it. And that is good, but also bad. See, knowing Jesus rose from the dead is like the biggest spoiler ever in the history of the world. But they didn’t know. 

Maybe it is necessary for us to experience death and grief and utter despair in order to fully experience resurrection, new life, joy, amazing grace. Not arrogant assumption; not ho-hum presumption. That’s where the second song comes in. 

You have led me through the fire 
In the darkest night 
You are close like no other 
I’ve known You as a Father 
I’ve known You as a Friend 
And I have lived in the goodness of God  

… And all my life You have been faithful  
And all my life You have been so, so good 
With every breath that I am able 
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God 

“All my life you have been faithful.” That lyric has been vibrating through me like a bell. Because I never fully realized until lately just how faithful He has been in my life. I really don’t remember much of my childhood. I am sure that I deliberately forgot it, tried to not even experience it as it happened. But God has been healing me and He is getting down to the core pain. I am realizing that I endured decades of abuse, mostly emotional. But God was always there. All my life he has been faithful. 

Amazing grace. Resurrection joy – His but also our own and those we love and pray for. Think of the joy and wonder and the testimony we would miss – the witness we would not have – if there was no suffering, no grief and despair, no death. Death of hopes and dreams, death of relationships, physical pain and struggle. Would we really know God as Father, as Friend, as good, as faithful, if we had never known abandonment, rejection, fear, the end of the road, the edge of the cliff, the sealed-up grave? 

Jesus had to experience death in order to set us free. Maybe we have to experience a kind of death in order to have the solid-rock faith, the knowing God’s faithfulness, the hope and confidence that we can bring to others. Maybe we need to be drenched in tears so that we can say, with every breath that we are able, all my life He has been faithful. All my life He has been so, so good. 

God comforts us so that we can comfort others. God grants us mercy so that we can be merciful to others. God stands whole-heartedly with us in our suffering so that we will stand whole-heartedly with others who are suffering. God never leaves us alone in our suffering so that we won’t leave others alone in theirs.” — Dave Zuleger3 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.  2 Corinthians 1:3–5 

For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Revelation 7:17 

1O Praise the Name. Songwriters: Martin W. Sampson / Benjamin William Hastings / Dean Ussher 

2Goodness of God. Songwriters: Jason Ingram / Ed Cash / Brian Mark Johnson / Jenn Louise Johnson / Ben David Fielding 

3God Brings Us Suffering for Others’ Sake https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/god-brings-us-suffering-for-others-sake    

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