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. “

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)

In search of beauty…

For many years I have been looking for beauty (peace, goodness, love, generosity, honesty, loyalty) everywhere. I moved from places to places, hoping that the next one would be the right place. After decades of searching, I finally understood what God has been whispering in my heart. There is no beauty except in and through Him.

Searching for beauty has led me in the wrong places, with the wrong people. There were hurts and dramas, but always life and hope because of Christ. Is there beauty in the world? Of course, yes. But in the right places, those places where God has sown it in His creation, in His creatures. Outside God, there is no beauty, but through Him there is abundance of beauty for everyone who looks at Him and hopes in Christ. Trough His eyes, we won’t even notice what only appears beautiful, but we will admire and commend what is truly beautiful even if it appears ugly.

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Matthew 6:28-29)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)

 

Blessed He is

served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:25)
To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 9:5)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, (2 Corinthians 1:3)
The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. (2 Corinthians 11:31)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, (Ephesians 1:3)

in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. (1 Timothy 1:11)

which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, (1 Timothy 6:5)

waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (Titus 2:13)

 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Peter 1:3)

What is certain?

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. Revelation 21:5-6

Few things are trustworthy and sure in this life. When it is hard, people tend to remind us of Romans 8:28 as if it meant that everything will be OK. No, not everything will be OK in this life. At least God never promised such a thing. Life is hard, illogical, uncertain and unfair. But we will stop being angry, frustrated and anxious if we knew what is trustworthy and sure. And we will be able to be still, hope and rest.

We can be sure that God exists and that He rewards those who believe in Him (Hebrews 11:6). We can be sure of His heart as describes in the Holy Scriptures, which can be so different from what our favorite preachers say about.

We can also be sure that Christ came, died and raised from the death and now is at the right hand of God. And that because of Him, of what He has done, one day, we will be with Him and all will be fine (Titus 3: 4-8).

In the meantime things are not that fine. We expect things from God that He never promised. And we don’t understand why He does not give them to us. We expect Him to do it the way we have been taught He should be doing it, the way we think He should work. And we are disappointed.

So many frustrations because we don’t know the truth, we don’t know His truth, we don’t know Him. No wonder why Paul’s Goal was to know Christ (Philippians 3:8-11). In Him are hidden all the secrets of God (Colossians 2:3).  If you really know Christ, you understand life.

I know it is Christmas soon and that everything should be good and beautiful and everyone should be nice to us, especially God. But things don’t work that way, at least not in the Bible, not in God’s world. Life is hard, but we can be certain that after this life everything will be fine.

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us; 
2 Timothy 2:10-12

He is just… God

Praise Him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Psalm 150:2

 

The thing I prefer about God is that He is God. I like the fact that He is above humanity, that He is different from us and beyond us. Even if it is sometimes difficult to live with, I like that we cannot fully understand Him.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! Romans 11:33

The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress. Job 37:23

Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. (Psalm 145:3)

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it. Ecclesiastes 8:17

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Ecclesiastes 11:5

All this also comes from the LORD Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent. Isaiah 28:29

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. Isaiah 40:28

Yes, we cannot fathom God’s greatness. And that’s why Him alone is God (Psalm 86:10). And that’s what I need to remember when I don’t understand, when I don’t agree with His decisions for my life, when His timing is different for mine, when life is ugly. I need the Holy Spirit to remind me that He has made everything beautiful in its time. Then I need to decide to trust Him for the past, the present and the future and to wait for His time. (Habakkuk 2:3).