Thou, O Lord


2009 was a tough year.

Threats & concerns that my ministry here was over. My errors & shortcomings discussed evident. Stung by some. Embraced by others. My failure palpable. My grief overwhelming at times. Trying to live life as a hubby & daddy, continue to minister, & act like all is well. Broken & humbled. Experiencing God’s grace profoundly.

Late Autumn during a week away with family God gave me peace. No matter what. Stay or go. He was in control. He’d take care of my family. My church. Me. He loved more than I could know or imagine.

Weeks later I headed out for a Saturday morning long run. Eight degrees. New worship music loaded on my iPod. My first listen. I did worship. With each breath. Each step. Through the cold. The dark. Each note. Each word. Through my pain. The grief.

And then. First time I’d ever heard it.

Many are they increased that troubled me
Many are they that rise up against me
Many there be which say of my soul
There is no help for him in God

Tears. Rolling down. Weeping. As I ran.

But thou, O Lord are a shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head
Thou, O Lord are shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head

Tears. Freezing on my cheeks. Joyful. As I ran. 

I cried unto the Lord with my voice
And he heard me out of His holy hill
I laid me down and slept and awaked
For the Lord sustained, for he sustained me

Arms. Uplifted in praise. Emboldened. As I ran.

Thou, O Lord are a shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head
Thou, O Lord are shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head

Voice. Lifted in worship. Strengthened. As I ran.

Don’t know how many times I replayed it. Felt like I was running on air the remaining eight miles to loop back home. Those words of the Third Psalm inspiring me.

I have a second chance. Redemption.

We have a God of second chances. A Redeemer.

Why don’t you come back to Him? Your Protector, Provider, Redeemer.

Don't Cry

Not long after that, Jesus went to the village Nain. His disciples were with him, along with quite a large crowd. As they approached the village gate, they met a funeral procession—a woman's only son was being carried out for burial. And the mother was a widow. When Jesus saw her, his heart broke. He said to her, "Don't cry." Then he went over and touched the coffin. The pallbearers stopped. He said, "Young man, I tell you: Get up." The dead son sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother. They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them. They were quietly worshipful—and then noisily grateful, calling out among themselves, "God is back, looking to the needs of his people!" The news of Jesus spread all through the country.Luke 7:11-17, The Message
Don't cry.
You are already a widow.
You only son has just died.
You'll have no means of support in our society.
Yet, I tell you, Don't cry.
"Don't weep. Don't sob. Don't wail aloud," are more accurate translations & more accurate for this situation. Have you been there? Let your memory of the past or your imagination of the future take you there with that widow. Have you ever been so heartbroken? Too many questions? Few answers? Life smoldering about you? Stability banished? Uncertainty stalking? Weeping like breathing? Pain unbearable?Yet, Jesus. Yes, Jesus was there in Nain. God in flesh. And "his heart broke." Splanchnizomai (splanhk-nid-ZOH-my) in Greek from the root of "spleen" or "guts." Translated as, "compassion, heartbroken, take pity," or the like, it is used in the entire New Testament only 12 times. Other than in Luke 10:33 of the Good Samaritan, a parable of the character & actions of Christ followers, all 11 other mentions are of Jesus himself. Jesus was stirred up. He alone was heartbroken this way. Sick to his stomach. Moved with compassion. By suffering. By pain. Yes, Jesus. God in flesh.
My daughter skins her knee while playing. In her pain, she'll weep & wail loudly. My built in Daddy response is, "don't cry." I can hold her. I can clean & bandage her cut. I can comfort her. But my abilities stop there.
When Jesus says, "don't cry," he alone has the ability - the power - to change the very situation. He can heal. He can restore sight. He can raise. And, for the Widow of Nain's son, he did. As God willed, Jesus did. Jesus raised the dead man.
This doesn't mean God will remove all my pain, or heal me, or make everything in my life right whenever I ask. Jesus didn't heal everyone or raise all the dead he happened upon either. Those are questions of God's providence that I can't understand. He is God. I am not. Based on this Scripture I do understand:
God knows my pain.
He, the God of the entire universe, is moved with compassion for me.
God. Heartbroken over me.


Tears for a Friend

Have you ever cried for a friend?

You hurt because they hurt. You wish you could change their circumstances. You want to make it all better. You pray that everything would come right. You cry for a friend.

You see where things are headed. You expect the anticipated end. You know its just not here yet. You hope the end comes or maybe you hope against it. You cry for a friend.

I am comforted. Jesus cried for his friend, Lazarus. Jesus knows hurt. Jesus knows life. Jesus knows pain. Jesus knows me. He knows my friend.

Thank you, Jesus, for tears.

Thank you, Jesus, for my friend.

Thank you, Jesus, for befriending me.