Thursday, May 2, 2013

Faithfulness

It's a silly thing, really. To be excited about a dog's birthday. I struggle to smile at Sperry as I try to take a picture to document the milestone.

It's hard to celebrate a birthday for a dog when the doctors say our loved one might not celebrate another...

It's hard to process so many feelings. Hard to not be there. Hard to feel sadness and heart ache and want... Grateful that the hard feelings are enveloped in a blanket of hope.


I think about the human side of Jesus, and it comforts me.

Jesus cried and grieved. Jesus loved his friends deeply. Jesus suffered. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked if God could do things differently. (Matthew 26:39)

When Jesus saw the soldiers entering the Garden of Gethsemane, I wonder what His heart felt.

He'd already prayed and asked God for another way. But, the soldiers came anyway...

He was Jesus .... When the soldiers showed up, He could have just thought it and knocked them all to the ground. But He stayed. He let them take Him away. He knew where He was going. He knew it was only going to be more painful when He got there. But He trusted God through it. He trusted that God would be faithful, even if it meant He was going to suffer and die... God would still be faithful.

....

As I've tried to process all of these feelings, I've been thinking about how I've processed feelings of sadness and want in the past. I've been remembering different phases of my life, life events, and the different ways I went about dealing with things.

At one point during this self-reflection, I remembered farther back than I wanted to. But I let myself go there because that day is a very important reason as to why I am able to process the feelings I have now.

I think back to the day our team was car-jacked in Kenya. After our car-jackers ran off into the bush with our money and possessions, our missionary Isaac quickly drove us back through the tall grass toward civilization. Once we emerged from the Gnong Forest and climbed out of the van, I found my face cupped in Chris' hands. My whole body shook and tears ran down my cheeks as he looked me in the eyes and said with a smile, "God is sovereign."

For years I hated that word. Sovereign. Everyone would say it. "God is sovereign." And they'd always say it with a smile, like they were trying to be encouraging.

Sovereign means "supreme authority."

I knew it was through His sovereignty that we were not tortured and killed in the Gnong Forest.

But I was suffering regardless; I lived with full blown post-traumatic stress disorder, that didn't just affect me but my family also.

"If God is sovereign then why did He let this happen at all?" I would wonder as I cried because a simple stop during our family vacation at a gas station triggered me into flash back.

I didn't doubt His sovereignty. I didn't doubt God's presence in the van - even while our backseat carjacker felt my body for hidden possessions - I didn't doubt that God was there. I doubted His faithfulness in the purpose of the suffering.

Now, I can look back and see the immeasurable ways He's used that awful, painful experience to bless so many other people. I can see how God was faithful - how He used our hurt for good.

...

I can process the feelings I have now through the lens of His faithfulness.

I praise God for His sovereignty, even when it hurts, because I trust that He is the same God today as He was yesterday, and that tomorrow and forever He'll still be the same. (Hebrews 13:8)

That just like how God used His own Son's death, a painful, horrific experience to save the world, that He will be faithful to use the painful, unexpected, horrible situations we walk through for good.

We trust, like Jesus did, that God will still be faithful. That even when it hurts, He'll never leave us. (Hebrews 13:5).

That morning by morning new mercies we'll see...

"But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you." 2 Thessalonians 3:3

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield." (Psalm 91:4)