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Posts Tagged ‘tragedy’

tearsJust survived a very busy, emotional, tension packed weekend. I don’t usually breathe a sigh of relief when Monday comes. In fact, it’s often the other way around – the sigh of relief when Saturday comes. But this weekend started on Friday when my granddaughters headed off to WSU to try out for the Crimson Girls Dance Team.

First you need to know they have been dancing competitively since they were three and they are amazing. Bethany graduated last year and has one year of local college under her belt. Bailey graduates this year.

The competition for a place on the team began Friday afternoon and for the next three days there were performances and cuts, performances and cuts. My cell phone was popping with text messages as their mother kept me updated. With each successful round, the competition got tighter and the tension magnified and my prayers became more frequent and more fervent.

I didn’t pray that they would make the team. I prayed that God’s plan for them would win out. I wanted Him to be in charge of their destiny. What I did pray was that they would either both make the team or neither make the team. I knew a split would be very difficult to deal with.

On Sunday, it was down to the wire. As I kept up my busy pace of setting up for worship. leading the team through our practice, helping to prepare for the barbecue being held after the service and just touching base with my church family as they arrived, I kept the phone close and waited for that vibration signaling news.

And it came – Bethany was officially welcomed onto the team. Bailey was not. Excitement on the one side, devastation on the other. Tears of joy, tears of sadness. My heart swelling with pride for one and breaking for the other.

As I got in my car after the barbecue, still trying to understand the results, I saw my memory verse for the week on my console. Psalm 56:8-9 You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You record them in Your book. This I know, God is on my side.”

I thought I understood the verse but I realized God had just taken me deeper into His word. He does know every hurt and rejection we suffer, He feels every pain, He understands every grief. He hurts when we hurt. Our struggles are precious to Him. But in the end, in spite of how much we are going to suffer from the tragedies of this life – because He is on our side, He will not allow a result that leads us into danger or is not going to work for our ultimate good. Tears and disappointment today will keep us from the tragedy around the corner.

Someday we will meet Him and in His arms will be that precious jar of tears He collected. We will be enlightened and we will see that what seemed a muddy mess of hurt and weeping was truly one more step leading us down the path that got us closer and closer to our goal.

I’ve often wondered what He will do with that bottle of our tears when we finally reach heaven. I have this vision of Him dropping the jar and as it shatters, He and I will both be soaked with splashes of incredible joy. We will know the truth of His Word, “Consider it pure joy when you meet trials of various kinds…” James 1:2

For Bailey, the light won’t dawn today or tomorrow. But my most fervent prayer is that she will grow spiritually every day until she sees the beauty of every Word written between Genesis and Revelation; that His truth will come alive for her; that she will one day look back on this disappointment and be able to smile and say, “Thank you, God, for protecting me in that moment and lovingly moving me further down the path toward you.” In the meantime, not one of her tears will be wasted. The minute they are shed, He scoops them up and stores them close to His incredible heart.

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 This morniMB900262644[1]ng I was looking out the large window of my office, watching eight deer forage for food under a light covering of snow. Graceful, beautiful creatures in a winter landscape worthy of a Christmas card cover.  I’m sure my face reflected the peace and sense of contentment the scene outside my window evoked.  Psalm 42 immediately came to mind.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” Psalm 42:1

Shattering that peaceful reflection just minutes later, I caught a news flash of the shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut leaving twenty seven dead, eighteen of them children. I am sitting here now with tears streaming and a million questions running through my head.  How can something like this happen?  How can anyone feel anger so deeply it would lead them to this type of action?  I’m so confused. And I find myself crying out to God. 

“Why, God?  How can you let something like that happen?  I get that we live in an imperfect world and I get that you never promisCed us smooth sailing or lives exempt from sadness or pain.  But this? 

I am thousands of miles away from the tragedy and I want to run out of my office, pull my own grandchildren out of school and shelter them forever. I don’t want them to have to grow up in a world so ugly and so evil.

I am furious at the 20 year old shooter, angry at whomever or whatever brought him to this point, and to tell you the truth – I am upset with God.  I want Him to turn back the clock, bring those children home tonight to the parents who sent them off to school this morning never dreaming what lay in store.  I want the world to stop hating and hurting people. I want the peace on earth that songs of this season harmonize about and that the Bible promises.

The hardest part for me is being lulled into a picturesque, isn’t it pretty, all is well state of mind when at that very moment unspeakable tragedy, chaos, and ugliness was taking place.  Where is the justice in that?

The rest of Psalm 42, when I take time to read it, speaks to my mood.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Where can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Psalm 42:2-3

These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. Psalm 42:4

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:5

This is a “yet I will praise Him” time for sure. I can’t make sense of what happened this morning, or for that matter on any given day when the world out-shadows the glory of heaven.

Sometimes I praise Him with joy so overwhelming it lifts me off my feet and threatens to rupture my heart muscle it is so powerful.

Sometimes I praise Him when I’m walking through a ho hum time, my emotions too lazy to cause a ripple on an ekg.

And sometimes, like right now, I praise Him even though I’m weighed down and weary with crying.  Even though I am crying out “Why”, I am still singing “How great Thou art”. When fear and doubt and anger and confusion play basketball with my soul, I choose to see myself on the winner’s bench with my Coach’s hand on my life and on the dysfunctional world in which I live.

My soul does long after you, God, more than it longs for understanding or explanations when horror happens. I am hungry for your touch, thirsty for your living water, and desperate for your strength and your love to help me overcome the battles of life is this harsh world.

Please join me in praying for the families who are living this latest tragedy, for a society where this type of thing happens all too often, and for each of us individually that we might be a healing salve in a mortally wounded world.

By day the Lord directs His love, and at night His song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:8

 

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Yesterday a friend shared that she felt her life was just a series of “starting overs”.  Her heart was heavy and her soul was discouraged.  Things weren’t working out the way she’d planned – again.  My heart hurts because her heart hurts and I wish I could change her situation.  I wish I could tell her what to do to make it miraculously better.  But the truth is, there are no quick and easy answers.

Isn’t that just the way of life?  Are any of us where we really wanted to be today?  Has anyone not seen dreams die or goals remain unreached?  When I was in 8th grade I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would become a nurse.  Instead I became a wife.  When I lived for riding horses I never dreamed of a day when my pasture would be empty but my motorcycle shop would be full.  When I was pregnant for the first time I never imagined that my son would never take a first breath.  On my wedding day I didn’t know marriage would be so hard, or for that matter parenting, keeping house, keeping my sanity. 

We’ve all had to readjust our plans along the way.  Sometimes it was by choice and we looked forward to an exciting venture.  Other times it was heartbreaking and seemed unfair and impossible.

But at least for me, and I’m relatively sure for the rest of you, it was a time of growth and discovery.  Even the most painful times in our journey give birth to a fresh awareness of how strong we are, how amazing a right turn can end up being, and how, regardless of what was left behind, there are treasures to be had up ahead.

Starting over points make us see again and again who is really in control.  We think that we are and we make choices, good and bad, but God channels them both into the direction He wants us to go.  When it seems all is lost, the one thing we can hold on to is His wisdom and His grace. Only God can turn a loss into a win, a seemingly fatal mistake into a life giving lesson, a brick wall into short pause. 

Each time we dissolve into tears and think we’ve failed, God turns our tears into a river of opportunity and provides a boat.  We just have to get in and start rowing.  The most important thing though is letting him set our course.  Most of our “starting overs” come from a lack of seeking direction in our past endeavors. That’s not to say that tragedy beyond our control doesn’t strike us now and then because it does.  The race we run as citizens of this world is a grueling one. Even the most athletically fit will stumble and fall along the way.

The falling down – the divorce, the bankruptcy, the loss of a job, the parenting disappointments, the damage we’ve done – those aren’t the climactic moments in our book of life.  The fact that we keep on going, keep on singing, keep on believing and keep on starting over are the page turners. 

In the end it doesn’t matter that we aren’t where we expected ourselves to be.  It only matters that we end up where God planned for us to be.  And do you know where that is?  At the throne of grace, forgiven of all our sin and failure, shining with the light of Jesus and surrounded by the people who watched our journey and were inspired to follow along.

For my friend whose broken heart inspired this post, you are at one of the most beautiful places of all, the place where you choose to fall into His great big, comforting, safe and secure hands so that He can pour His love out upon you, whisper His promises into your heart, put your broken pieces back together and set you on your feet again, down a fresh new path that leads to joy.

Today, tomorrow and the next day will be hard for you.  Count on me to walk alongside.  I’ll buy the Starbucks, listen to the problems, pat you on the back and take your phone calls.  But He is the one who will actually take your fractured pieces and form the work of art you will become as you take this turn and navigate your way down the path.

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:9-10

 

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