Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Honest Laments

An honest lament grieves that the world is unbalanced.  It mourns the death of a parent, spouse or a child.  It rages about the injustice and lack of fairness in this life.  It grieves the GAP between reality and God's promises.  Our honest laments engage God's compassion and they do not cause us to be judged.  Ambiguous in our human nature, we are highly uncertain, and at best, doubtful - that God would understand any lament that challenges His faithfulness.  When we encounter the good, the bad, and the ugly side of this life, as humans we tend to elevate the bad and we miss the good. Life is hard, and the book of James tells us that when we suffer, we are to pray, and when good times roll in, we are to pray, and talk to God and praise Him in all things. Our Father knows our hearts and He honors our tears, struggles, and our times of trouble. Our Father never said life on earth was going to be easy.  He has never exaggerated the pain He suffered, nor did He deny that we will suffer.  The Bible, His Story, God's word tells us pure, unvarnished truth.  Our Father does NOT desire that His children fully understand why He had to send His Son Jesus, but more importantly God wants us to fully embrace Jesus as the One that we can always relate to because of His suffering, His many sacrifices and His eternal love. Imagine yourself as a tree living in a huge forest.  Growing up tall and strong, you looked to heaven and reached for the stars with great
hopes for your future.  Yet, in your youth, the axe of unkind words and unexpected hardships cut you down.  God's word says "For there is hope in a tree" When we feel there is no hope we can find God in our midst encouraging us "If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease."  Job 14:1-9 - We must see, that our roots connects us to the Truth, the Way, and the Life. Our tenacious roots will NOT cease to seek the living water. We need but a tiny taste, a filling, and a renewing by the ever present, indwelt Holy Spirit. "Though its roots may grow old in the earth, and its stump may die in the ground, yet --- at the scent of water it will bud" Job 14:8 -- In the book of RUTH we find many hard lessons about loss, pain and God's unique way of responding to the many trials we have here on earth.  IMPORTANT: It is okay to express anger during dark times.
God understands our pain and He wants us to be honest, and weep and pray. When we earnestly ask "Why oh Lord?" and when we read the psalms, our nostrils may flare at the scent of living water as hope begins to sprout up in our stumped souls again!  It is important to cling to the Truth and not listen to the Liar who rushes to destroy our hope in Jesus.  Ecclesiastes 1:17-18 " I applied my mind to know wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly; I learned that this too is a pursuit of the wind.  For with much wisdom is much sorrow; as knowledge increases, grief increases." The IMPORTANT truth is that your crys have been heard, you have not been forsaken or forgotten! "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is NOT from yourselves, it is the gift of God." Ephesians 2:8 - So in our human
fragile faith, we are weakened, and in the midst of that very weakness, God is strong.  Naomi lost her husband and both sons and she could not stop crying and feeling that God had turned against her.  Her daughter-in-law Ruth sat with her and grieved right along with her. Naomi laments "Call me Mara for the Lord has brought me back home empty.  I am bitter and God has made me this way!"
Naomi's tone is blunt as it explodes in the ears of her friends in Bethlehem. Naomi is real and she does not mask or attempt to hide her sorrow.  She is raw and authentic before God and NOT a hypocrite.  She was not being cynical, but she was exposing her broken heart.  Ruth chose to sacrifice her hope to find a new husband and she accompanied Naomi back to her hometown of Bethlehem.  As we love the people God has placed in our lives, the texture of Jesus emerges in us as we offer compassion to those that are grieving. Steadfast love is another translation for the Hebrew word Hessod. Hessod love combines sacrifice with commitment.  It is a love that has NO EXIT at the sign of trouble. Ruth bound herself to Naomi, for better or for worse. Naomi was bitterly cranky and snorted harsh words towards Ruth and anyone who attempted to give her comfort.
There is absolutely nothing fair about Hessod love!  It is totally unbalanced, and it is the very way God loves us.  When believers of God and followers of Jesus loose their temper and feel slighted, or when life throws us painful circumstances, we raise our fists towards God, and we weep because of life's persistent injustices --- CONSIDER THIS: Does God turn His back on us when we are mad, sad, sick, injured or troubled? Certainly NOT! Hessod love stubbornly continues and it is steadfast regardless of our feelings, moods, actions, silence or circumstances.  Hessod love eliminates moodiness and it loves regardless of anger expressed by a silent treatment or by a raised tone of voice!  Loud voices or the slamming of doors does not prevent or deter the Hessod love of Jesus towards His people.  Many times angry, bitter people allow dark
moods to develop when their expectations are not met and they begin to selfishly behave as if their mood does not impact the people around them.  Ruth most assuredly winced and weeped as she witnessed Naomi's inconsolable grief --- but she did not withdraw her Hessod love.  "Your God will be my God" Ruth 1:16 - No matter how you act Naomi, I am devoted to you and where ever you go, I will go!  Ruth chose to not go home to her parents, or to remain the same, as she always was, or as her parents taught her. She was willing to forsake the beliefs instilled as a child and adopt the living Hope of God among us! Hessod love is unconditional.  It consistently acts on its loyal commitment to love imperfect, sad, or difficult people.  Life is moody, feelings come and go, pressures rise and fall, and our many passions are like the wind.  You cannot know or see emotions that will rise with ongoing difficult trials. When life hits us hard it is easy for us to withdraw our faith in God. Our religious sense towards a suffering sister or brother in Christ is to theologize and say "God is in control" but we may also silently doubt if God is truly watching, listening or caring about those that are in a valley of pain.   God responds to Naomi's pain filled accusation that He brought this upon her, by giving her the committed, sacrificial love of Ruth.  Our loving Father God responds likewise today.  He places people in our lives that show us compassion, mercy, and grace by word and actions.  Pray this "Lord give me Thine eyes that I may see all the good in my life and give Thee thanks for it."  AMEN

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