Embrace what your Father has given you

Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, the few people left of the nation of Israel. I’ve carried you since your birth. I’ve taken care of you from the time you were born. Even when you’re old, I’ll take care of you. Even when your hair turns gray, I’ll support you. I made you and will continue to care for you. I’ll support you and save you. (Isaiah 46:3-4)

As I get older, I think more and more of what could have been. I had dreams, great dreams for my walk with God, for my life, for everything. And sometimes it just feels like I missed something somewhere. Sometimes, I just don’t understand what happened. Sometimes I feel it is too late, I am too old. And it is difficult to know what to do with the past, with the present and the future. Trust God, of course, but how, for what, when? And because God never changes and is always good, he hears and listens. Because He is the good Shepherd, He always leads to green pastures. Because He is light, He never leaves us in the dark. Because of Christ, because in Him we are reconciled with the Father, we will never be lost again. So, the Great Shepherd of the sheep saw me in my darkness and leads me toward the following words that John Piper said, which encouraged me and helped me to see what I could do:

“Occasionally, weep deeply over the life that you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Feel the pain. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life that he’s given you.

The reason for that counsel is 1 Thessalonians 4:13, where Paul says, “We do not want you to be uninformed . . . about those who are asleep” — about those who have died — “that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” So, there’s real grieving, which he expects, and there’s hope. Grieving is real, losses are real, pain is real — really felt, really expressed — and hope is real that changes it profoundly. I have in mind two kinds of losses: those who had something precious and lost it, and those who hoped for something precious and never had it. It works both ways. Sixty years go by, and forty years on you think, “I’ve come to terms with that,” and then one morning it breaks over you, and you weep about a 40-year old loss, or a 40-year “never have,” and my counsel is, yes, go ahead, embrace that moment. Weep. But then, say to your weeping after a season, “No. You will not define me, sorrow, because my God has said, ‘No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly’ (Psalm 84:11).

Therefore, even though it was good in one sense, and I miss it in one sense, I trust my God, and he has not withheld anything that is good for me.” Yes, let there be weeping in those seasons — feel the losses. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life he’s given you. “

Never tired, always bathing in goodness

Where would I be if I did not believe I would experience the Lord’s favor in the land of the living? (Psalm 27:13 NET)

Sometimes you read a verse times after times and you don’t get this little thing that is obvious and makes a big difference. Then in a time of dire need, God stops you and makes you get it; actually more than just getting it, He feeds you with it. His Word becomes food for you. And for me, the verse above is one of those.

The part translated “Where would I be” is also translated “I would have despaired”, I had fainted”. What God is telling us here is that the only way not to be tired, weary, exhausted, not to faint and despair is to believe that we will experience His favor, His goodness; that He will do us good.

The only being who never gets tired is God. All of us, young, old, super spiritual and weak get tired one day. And it is normal. The Christian life is filled with trials, difficulties, challenges and many other things that steal our strength, our energy, our joy, our hope, etc. God knew it and provided us with the perfect solutions: to believe He will be good to us. When you believe in His goodness, His strength becomes your strength.

What does it mean to believe in His goodness for you? It means that you are so sure that He is for you, so sure that He will never leave you nor forsake you, so sure that His faithfulness, mercy, and grace will follow you all the days of your life that you wait upon Him, you wait for His help. You don’t fret nor get worried, but stay still because He is your God.

How do you know that you are doing those? Well, if your strength is renewed, if you walk without getting tired, then you are waiting upon Him. If you run without growing weary, if you feel that you are soaring like eagles, then you are waiting for His help.

If you don’t feel that way, if you feel tired and exhausted inside, if your spiritual strength is gone, you are not believing that He will be good to you. Let me put it that way: If God is the Ruler of the universe and He is for you, why would you run around panicked, worried, or frustrated? You would simply wait for Him and keep doing His will, knowing that everything is taken care of, knowing that you are taken care of.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is an eternal God, the creator of the whole earth. He does not get tired or weary; there is no limit to his wisdom. He gives strength to those who are tired; to the ones who lack power, he gives renewed energy. Even youths get tired and weary; even strong young men clumsily stumble. But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired.” (Isaiah 40: 28- 31 (NET))

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. (Micah 7:18 ESV)

The gospel can be explained this way:

  • God created us for His glory.
  • We should live for His glory.
  • We have all sinned and fallen short of His glory.
  • We all deserve eternal punishment.
  • In His great love, mercy, grace, goodness, God provided in His Only Son Jesus-Christ the way of forgiveness and eternal life.

This verse shows us how unchangingly marvelous is our God. He has always been willing to forgive and save. He has always been willing to retain His anger and to give grace instead. He has always delighted in steadfast love. This is who He is. That is what I want to think of tomorrow morning when I won’t be focused enough when praying. That is what I want to think of tomorrow after work when I realize that again I was not perfect at all. That is what I want to hold firm to when I am too tired to even move. I want to let His grace and love carry me, comfort me, give me the courage to keep going and still me. Because who is a God like my God, pardoning my iniquities every day and being patient with me? He delights in showing me steadfast, faithful and loyal love and quiets me with His love.

 

 

 

 

A compassionate God

Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:36 HCSB)

Some versions say “compassionate” instead of “merciful”. Being compassionate defines someone who has “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. ” And Being merciful is to provide relief.

What the verse above tells us is that when God sees us in our difficulties and sorrows, He wants to help us, comfort us, and soothe us. And because He is who He is; because He is not powerless, He does it: He provides us with relief. How does He give us that relief? Here is an example.

You certainly know the story of Gideon. God called him and sent him to fight against the Midianites. But he was afraid.  So God told him “Get up and go into the camp, for I have given it into your hand. 10 But if you are afraid to go to the camp, go with Purah your servant. Listen to what they say, and then you will be strengthened to go to the camp.” (Judges 7 9-11 HCSB)

God felt a deep sympathy for him. God understood what He was going through. When Gideon went to the camp, he listened to a conversation that gave him courage. God reassured, strengthened him because he needed it. But God went further. He told him to go with his servant. He did not shame him for being afraid, but instead provided him with solutions.

And since God doesn’t show favoritism, there are no reasons it won’t do it for you, no reasons it won’t do it for me.

 

Song of hope

 In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song: Our city is strong!  We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation. Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter. You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock. He humbles the proud and brings down the arrogant city. He brings it down to the dust. The poor and oppressed trample it underfoot, and the needy walk all over it.But for those who are righteous, the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right, and you smooth out the path ahead of them. Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws;  our heart’s desire is to glorify your name. In the night I search for you; in the morning I earnestly seek you. For only when you come to judge the earth will people learn what is right. Your kindness to the wicked does not make them do good. Although others do right, the wicked keep doing wrong and take no notice of the Lord’s majesty. O Lord, they pay no attention to your upraised fist. Show them your eagerness to defend your people. Then they will be ashamed. Let your fire consume your enemies. Lord, you will grant us peace; all we have accomplished is really from you. O Lord our God, others have ruled us, but you alone are the one we worship.Those we served before are dead and gone. Their departed spirits will never return! You attacked them and destroyed them, and they are long forgotten. O Lord, you have made our nation great; yes, you have made us great. You have extended our borders, and we give you the glory! Lord, in distress we searched for you. We prayed beneath the burden of your discipline. Just as a pregnant woman writhes and cries out in pain as she gives birth, so were we in your presence, Lord. We, too, writhe in agony, but nothing comes of our suffering. We have not given salvation to the earth, nor brought life into the world. But those who die in the Lord will live;  their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead! Go home, my people, and lock your doors! Hide yourselves for a little while until the Lord’s anger has passed. Look! The Lord is coming from heaven to punish the people of the earth for their sins.The earth will no longer hide those who have been killed. They will be brought out for all to see. (Isaiah 26 NLT)

Worth more than many sparrows

There are so many important things in this world, and when we compare the very details of our lives to them, they seem so meaningless. In the midst of all the catastrophes our world faces every day, in the midst of all the sufferings people go through, who can possibly care about how many hairs you have on your head? God does.

Because we think that the small things that fill our days are not of so great significance, we don’t even think of mentioning them to God. Why pray about details when there is more important at stake? So we pray for what we think God cares about, and we keep living burdened and tired because we are not doing the very thing that would set us free and give us rest.

God is the Lord of the universe. He controls stars and seasons; sets up kings and removes them; deals with angels and nations. Yes, it is the God of big things. But if He were only that, He wouldn’t be God. He is God because He controls even the most meaningless things that happen in this universe. He takes care of the tiny details of our lives. If He knows the number of your hairs, be sure that He knows your smallest dreams and cares. And because He wants you to be sure of it, He asks you to cast all your cares on Him, not the biggest one, not those that seem decent, all of them. From your weight issues to your singleness, from your work problems to your cravings, God wants to hear about them all. He cares about them all.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10: 29-31 BSB)

A God who runs

I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.(Luke 15:18-20 ESV)

I don’t know what you think about God, but I know that sometimes, many times, I have hard thoughts about Him. It is as if somewhere in the depth of my heart, I always have some doubts about His goodness. I cannot just see it, understand it: a God who runs to me because He loves me.

If I were an outstanding woman of faith, I would understand. But I am just like the other heroes of the Bible, weak, messy, and fearful. And I doubt. I doubt because I give Him no reasons to rejoice over Him, but He says He does. I doubt because He does not need me but want me. I doubt because how could He wants me, seriously? It just does not make sense.

But in the depth of my heart, I also know that it is true; that as incredible that it is, His love is the real thing. I know He is good and merciful, gracious and full of compassion, and He runs. When I come back to Him, ashamed of who I am, He runs to me. No questions asked, just His arms around me.

The Holy Spirit made it clear: the love of Christ surpasses knowledge. So we need to pray that we will understand it. There is no other way. So I pray for me, I pray for you, that we will understand that incredible love more and more and more.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)