Sunday, February 28, 2010

Vision Check

I have been feeling just beat down lately. Anyone else there?

For about the past two weeks my heart and mind have been occupied:

-Many of my friends are in incredible pain right now for various reasons.

-People I don't know, but whose stories I have followed, are hurting in unimaginable ways.

-The world around us is a literal mess - natural disasters, poverty, persecution, so many that are spiritually lost.

Sometimes the realization of how much pain is in the world causes me vision problems: I get spiritual myopia. The pain feels near and very clear while goodness seems far off and fuzzy.

In the midst of my near-sightedness I noticed the Bible verse for today sitting by my kitchen window:

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 27:13-14

I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

When I allow God to put His lenses in front of my flawed eyesight the fuzziness comes into focus. I will see His goodness. Not just one day in the future, but right now in the land of the living.

This doesn't take the reality of worldly pain away. But, in my eyes, it offers hope.

And that's something worth looking for.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

God's Goodness

Several years ago my dearest friend's father was in the midst of a horrific medical crisis. A "routine" procedure had gone very, very wrong and after literally being brought back to life there was much uncertainty about how much damage was done.

God's people responded. One night church members that had come to support the family and pray overflowed out of the hospital waiting area and into hallways. My sweet friend's family was lifted up continuously to our Father.

When it became apparent that little permanent damage had been done - and this defied any medical reasoning - people rightly glorified God. They exclaimed over and over to my friend, "God is so good!"

And then she posed a question to me that I will never forget:

"What if God hadn't healed Dad? Would these people still know that God is good?"


That question still gives me goosebumps mostly because the rock-solid faith of my dear friend blew me away.

But she had a point.

I think maybe what we mean to say in those situations, when God says "yes" to a dramatic request, is "That was so good of God!" Because my friend was right. God IS good. All the time. Unfailing. No matter what His answer to our request.

And if He, for whatever reason, had chosen to say "no" to the many pleas over her father's life He still would be just as good.

That's really hard to say. And really hard to swallow sometimes. Because it doesn't feel good when the answer is "no", when the life is not spared, when the job does not come through, when life is just really hard.

But see, my feelings don't dictate God's character. And really, that's a good thing.

Oh, I've been told "no" to an urgent plea. And it hurt. As Beth Moore puts it in a book of hers, it hurt my feelings. I'm not going to pretend that all these years later I get it now, that I understand why He said "no". That I now see the glorious purpose in the pain.

Um, no.

But has my faith been stretched? You betcha. Because at that moment, when the "no" hurt to the very marrow, God gave me a choice: 1)abandon Him, the one who said "no" or 2)cling to Him even though I was hurt. There was no in-between.

So with a deep breath, many tears and hurt feelings I chose to stay. And although there's so much I still don't understand about those circumstances, a peace that passes understanding allowed me to start digesting that God had not failed me.

He was still good.

Life's hard. We live in a fallen world with situations that bring us to our knees, crying for the Lord to come quickly. And it's right for us to pray, to pray for miracles, to pray for compassion, to pray for healing. We are God's dearly loved children and He loves to give good gifts to us.

It's hard to say this without saying cold or trite. Please hear the tenderness in my heart, the heart that's also withstood a devastating "no", when I say to remember that God is still good when bad things happen. He does not want us to fall away on account of circumstances. Instead He wants us to run to Him so He can embrace us and wipe the tears from our face.

And because God is good, remember that this world is not our home. One day there will be no tears, no heartbreak, no enemy.

And that is very, very good.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Wants and Needs

Do you ever get the feeling God is trying to tell you something?

Last week, the scheduled lesson to teach my 2nd graders at church was how God provided manna from Heaven and water from a rock to his grumbling children. We really focused on how God always, always provides what we need. He may choose to also provide wants and sometimes he doesn't. But He always supplies our needs.

When I came home I picked up my daughter's Sunday school handout to see what they had discussed in her class: Jesus using the boy's fish and loaves to feed thousands. Um, in other words, how God provided exactly what the people needed at the right time.

Then this morning I was half-listening to the little Bible cartoon my daughter was watching. But my ears perked up when I realized they were talking about how God always supplies what we need even if He doesn't supply what we want.


This makes me a little nervous, honestly. I have to wonder if something is coming where I will need to remember the lesson of wants vs. needs.

Well, I guess even if something specific never happened it would be a good lesson to remember anyway. Like right now I really want a large piece of chocolate cake and Blue Bell milk chocolate ice cream. This is not a need, this is not a need . . .