Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Season of Perseverance


Have you explored Biblical Lament?  I must admit, when I first read this phrase recently, I thought it sounded just a bit antiquated, for another era or time.  However, I've been part of an amazing book launch,  Discovering Hope, by Cindee Snider Re(more will be coming on this next week,) and I have found a beautiful perspective on the subject of suffering and expressing our hearts to God.


I realized that many of my favorite Psalms are actually Biblical Laments


Psalm 63:1
"O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water."


Psalm 13:1-2
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me
forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?



I grew up in a strict church setting, where GOOD was always emphasized. Consequently, many have attributed a kindness to me personally that may have just been one more way that my church-girl self chose to keep the GOOD-RULE activated.  My older brothers will never forget my "God-Forgive" Stage. Any time I saw myself (or anyone in my close circle, for that matter) speak or do anything out of line, I was quick to yell out, "Better say 'God forgive!'"  Cute, coming from a 7-year-old, but rather excessive when I've realized I still carry the trappings of that 7-year-old thought process in my heart today.

Speaking a dark thought?  "Say God-Forgive!"
Uttering a harsh phrase?  "Say God-Forgive!"
Mulling over doubt-filled questions?  "Say God-Forgive!"

But where does all of that leave a person who is cluttered with questions about the dreary days that chronic illness creates?  . . . 

Drifting in a barren land where speech is quenched and searching is cut off.  In a culture that idolizes fitness and health, the quenching days easily multiply to become a state of denial.  And "OK" becomes the rote answer for how we are feeling. 

Have we, in the Church, missed something when we have emphasized GOOD-SPEAK, at the expense of Honest-Speak? 

So, I gave it a go, and began the process of looking at the Lament happening in my heart. 
 
 
Oh my Lord, I lay
my weary body down

The weight of this pain
has crushed my soul
for too many days

Yet my heart
still seeks and looks
to you
for a hand-hold in the cliff

How high must I climb?
How long is the journey?
How wide is the sea?
How deep is the trial?

In your hand is relief
The only tonic
to quench my thirst

In your embrace
will the comfort be found
far from the world's taunts

My Jesus have mercy
My Savior sweet Lord




 I know I have much to learn in this place of honest lamenting with God.  It's not a matter of learning how to complain--strange how being in a state of denial actually increases the ability to complain long and loud.  No, this is a lesson in exploring the deep crevices of a rocky landscape, and finding God's Spirit waiting for me there.


"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life which God has promised for all those who love him."  James 1:12

 

I tend to view my progress through these days, ESPECIALLY because I feel so weak, as so many failed efforts at learning what I am supposed to.  But if this Scripture is true, that the perseverance itself is a form of obedience, then I need to shift my judgment of myself to a more grace-filled plane.  God is giving me grace here: 


Not only is Jesus NOT offended by my weakness, But He is actually pleased with my plodding and stumbling gait that is persevering thru the trial.
 


Are you in a Season of Perseverance? Maybe the time is right to explore Biblical Lament and find yourself in the Grace-filled Place with me. 

18 comments:

  1. Yes, God is fluent in the language of lament. Our heart's cry for justice, for mercy, for relief are safe with Him.

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    1. Thank you Michele, for your encouragement to speak from the deep places in our hearts. It is so good to know that HE is our safety! Glad you stopped by! --Blessings to you!

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  2. I am so glad I ended up here (popping in from #TellHisStory) Beautiful perspective. This resonated and I think I really needed to read these words: "But if this Scripture is true, that the perseverance itself is a form of obedience, then I need to shift my judgment of myself to a more grace-filled plane. God is giving me grace here: Not only is Jesus NOT offended by my weakness, But He is actually pleased with my plodding and stumbling gait that is persevering thru the trial." Thank you! <3

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    1. Hi Amanda, I'm glad you stopped by also! Your words are an encouragement to me. It's hard to share from a vulnerable heart, but I'm so thankful that God knows how to meet our deepest heart's cry! --Blessings to you!

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  3. I was a good girl too, and had to find out that even keeping all the rules left a hole. We definitely had a long season this spring and summer of persevering. Yes, I am with you that honesty in a safe environment where it is needed most is lacking a lot these days. Last year, and many years really, my mind was so cluttered and I don't even know if I was saved because I was battling things one day I will talk about...but one thing I have learned is that through those times, He never left my side. He was right there ready to hear when I called out to Him. He CAN stand our foggy days, our weaknesses and our shortcomings. He knows we will need Him. Thank you so much for this. Your post was so good for me today, friend.

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    1. Oh Meg, I am so thankful that we can encourage each other in the hard times! And, yes, HE is so ever present with us through all of these things. I will pray that God helps you to share things at just the right time. I hesitated so long yesterday, before I hit the "publish" button. It is hard to be vulnerable with our hearts. Thank you for your sweet words!

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  4. Hi Bettie,
    You raise some interesting points to ponder! Those psalms of lament are glorious examples of how the psalmist spoke to his own soul and eventually moved to a place of hope. I love the honesty of it! I often find it difficult to do just that, but it's possible to hope, even in our darkest trials. I love how your optimism started bubbling up, even as young girl and how you continue to find the hope today with your words that you share with all of us! xoxo

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    1. Hi Valerie,
      You are such an encouragement to me! I was so reluctant to share this post yesterday, but God would not let me hold onto my words. And, yes, He is so good to pour out that Hope for us in the middle of our darkest trials. --Hugs to you my friend!

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  5. Bettie, I love how you have explored the topic of lament. Not only is it biblical, it becomes essential to allow for it within prayer if we are to be fully honest before God. Life IS hard, painful and challenging more often than we care to admit. And I've also been guilty of plastering on that 'I'm fine' smile which hides a multitude of moans lying beneath the surface! We may hate admitting our woes to ourselves and others, perceiving (and despising?) it as a form of weakness. But God longs for us to be real with Him, to see how we can find help by "exploring the deep crevices of a rocky landscape, and finding God's Spirit waiting for me there." Amen, my friend! I can so relate to your prayer. Thank you for being brave enough to share these thoughts with us. Cindee's book sounds like a great read. I look forward to hearing more about it. Bless you. xo

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    1. Joy, thank you for your kind words of encouragement, to be real with God! How much easier to keep those "multitude of moans lying beneath the surface!" But I am so thankful that God is so ready to help us face those vulnerable places. Yes, I am excited to share more about Cindee's book next time--it's been a great resource for me! --Blessings XO

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  6. Thank you so much for opening yourself up to vulnerability, Bettie. I find the cries of my heart and solace in the Psalms of lament. Your lament deeply resonates in my heart. Every word. Yes, He is the only tonic to quench our thirst. And it's so amazing that He is never offended when we lament, but He invites us to spill out our hearts. Blessings and hugs to you!

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    1. Trudy, I appreciate your encouragement, and I'm so thankful that you were touched with these words of Lament here. This was a hard post for me to share, but I'm glad that God softened my heart. The very thing I long for from others, to have realness in our sharing, is what I must be willing to do also. And then, HE meets us right there! --Blessings and Hugs to you!

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  7. Bettie, this is beautiful! Such grace to see the invitation to Explore Lament open the door a little wider to hope.

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    1. Thank you Cindee! Oh yes, I am so grateful to be processing all of the encouraging thoughts and ways to move into hope as I've been reading your book! And I feel honored to be part of your team! --Blessings to you!

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  8. Oh Bettie: the Lament was the birthing ground for my healing from PTSD. After using these instructions and writing my own: http://margaretfeinberg.com/broken-heart-god/ ...my first flashbacks of my mother's last hours occurred. God used the Lament to unearth what I'd been repressing...to allow healing to enter where it was needed most. And yes...it was new to me too...because of a false theology, I came to believe in the need to hide my fear, hurt and struggles to understand what God was up to. Then, God led me to a book about walking through the Psalms and to Margaret Feinberg's Fight Back with Joy and Bonnie Gray's Spiritual Whitespace...and wow how my heart began to yearn for more! So thankful God is leading you in the same way.

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    1. Thank you dear Anna for your encouragement to keep persevering in the work of God's Holy Spirit in my life! I have been blessed by Bonnie Gray's book so much, and I'm still slowly savoring your book as well. Now I want to check out the words by Margaret Feinberg that you mentioned! I am grateful that even when we feel so very alone in the trial, God is giving us EVERYTHING we need for life and Godliness! I must just open my eyes to see, when His ways are not like my ways. --Blessings and Hugs to you!

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  9. Hi Bettie,
    I'm so sorry for your struggles. Chronic illness is a difficult road to walk. God wants us authentic with Him. There's no hiding. He knows what it in our hearts, the aches and the joys. But He wants us to express it to Him. I believe that in so doing we become more aware of ourselves and our thoughts and feelings. Instead of stuffing, we express. But here's the catch. He doesn't want us stuck there. Lament, but then praise Him. Praise Him and intentionally choose gratitude so that in the pit we will not stay. Praying for you right now, new friend!
    Blessings,
    Lori

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  10. Hi Lori,
    Thanks for stopping by! And thank you so much for your prayers also. Oh,yes, what a deeper experience our praise takes on after we have truly offered our lament to God! It is then that He lifts our eyes up to see how great He is! I am finding the Lament to be like a cleansing rain that washes my eyes to see His Glory! --May He bless you today!

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