|Friday, Nov. 08, 2002 || Seasons: Winter|
Well, since my adorable fall photos are apparently AWOL and my computer guru (that would be my darling spouse) is out of town, I thought I would add the third season. When the pics are viewable, I will let everyone know; they really are SO CUTE!!
This season was not easy to write. Please know that my intent is not to offend anyone. It is my hope that it would be thought-provoking and even encouraging. It is my desire that anyone who comes to this little diary space would feel God’s amazing love. With that said, here it goes!
And everything in time and under heaven
Ah, winter. Snowflakes and snowmen. Mittens to warm cold fingers. Hot cocoa with whipped cream to cool the top. Lights twinkling on house after house as Christmas tiptoes in.
I usually enjoy winter right through the holiday season and that first snowfall. Then I want spring! I crave longer days and shorter nights. For sure footing rather than sleek, ice-kissed trails. For warm sunlight instead of the cold air on my face that bites and stings.
At times - quite often, actually - the blowing of those winter winds here in the Midwest is sharp and painful. As are some seasons in our lives. Hurtful. Sorrowful. Dark.
Just as winter comes at the appointed time each year, we too experience winters in our lives. Sometimes the pain is so intense, we are not sure spring will ever come.
Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit."
We often think of grief in terms of losing someone we love. But in truth, we grieve over many things. Moving. Losing a job, a relationship. Various changes that are both unexpected and unwelcome.
The word grief is synonymous with sorrow. Allowing ourselves time to grieve is simply allowing ourselves time for sorrow. And, do you know what? It’s okay to grieve. We NEED to grieve in order to heal.
In this brief space in time, let me encourage you to take time to grieve over two things:
1. Over past hurts.
2. Over our own wrongdoing.
Let’s look at the beginning of the verse in Psalm 34 again: “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart”.
I am convinced that most people have a great fear of people knowing who they really are. We often mask our true feelings, not only from others, but from God. We try to fix things on our own, or pretend that nothing is wrong, i.e., “put on a happy face”. We are afraid that if we reveal who we really are, or how we are really feeling, we will be rejected or abandoned. We have false shame for things that happened to us that were not our fault. We “have to be strong” for everyone – our families, our friends, our co-workers, our church. And in the meantime, we are dying inside.
Carol Kent states in Tame Your Fears, “Sometimes we wallow in a mental pigpen of betrayal, powerlessness, hurt, and anger for a long time. The turning point occurs when we stop trying to “fix” our feelings or situation and begin to grieve honestly and deeply. We live in a “groaning” creation where imperfect people hurt and disappoint us. That’s sad. When powerful people abuse their positions and make us fearful, that’s sad. When we are abandoned by someone who we expected to love us, that’s sad. But when we allow the sorrow of a sinful world to penetrate us, something else happens. When we cease playing the blame game and allow ourselves to grieve, we change.”
Allowing ourselves time to grieve over the hurts of the past brings us to a place where we can say, “I need you, God. I can’t get through this alone. I am no longer able to pick myself up on my own. I surrender myself to You – my pain, my bad memories, my mistakes, my disappointments, my expectations. I yield myself to You, God.”
And it is in that place of surrender that real healing begins, and that is encapsulated in one simple word: forgiveness.
Forgiveness is giving up my right to get even. It is NOT approval of the offense. Forgiveness says, “What you did hurt me deeply. You were wrong to do that to me. I have hated you for what you did long enough. But now I am releasing the hurt, and releasing you to God.”
Let me be very clear here. Forgiveness does not make the offense alright. Forgiveness makes YOU alright.
May I encourage you to go to God with your pain? He already knows anyway! And do you know what else? It is okay to ask Him why. His shoulders are big enough to handle our questions, our doubts.
Listen to what David prayed in Psalm 31: “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; My eye wastes away with grief, Yes, my soul and my body! For my life is spent with grief, And my years with sighing; My strength fails...my bones waste away. I am a reproach among all my enemies, But especially among my neighbors, And am repulsive to my acquaintances; Those who see me outside flee from me. I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel... I said in my haste, "I am cut off from before Your eyes"...” David was called “a man after God’s own heart”, yet he had seasons in his life that he felt cut off from God, when he questioned and asked why.
Even Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The very Son of God asked why! This is amazing to me. But more than that, what it says to me is this: I can ask God why. But the key is not staying in that place, rather allowing my doubts to give way to an honest and open search for truth.
Take time to grieve over your hurts. Ask why. And then allow yourself to come to that place where you can say, “God, I need you.” It is in that place that He brings healing. That He surrounds you in His love. And it is in that place that we are able, finally, to forgive.
Let’s take another look at Psalm 34:18, the ending phrase: “The Lord...saves such as have a contrite spirit.“
It isn’t a friendly word, but it all boils down to three little letters: sin.
And when it comes to our mess-ups, our own falling-short, we need to go through a grieving process as well. Realizing that we have actually hurt the heart of the Father and sorrowing over that very fact. Realizing this so that we can experience His forgiveness.
Listen to David’s cry to Abba Father in Psalm 51:
”Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my shameful deeds – they haunt me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. …you desire honesty from the heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me – now let me rejoice.”
Experiencing God’s forgiveness begins when we realize the brevity of our sin. When it hurts us that we have hurt God.
1 John 1:9 says, “But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.”
David’s grief, his great sorrow, over his sins brought him to a place where he surrendered to the Father. And in that place was forgiveness. And as forgiveness flooded his soul, he proclaimed, ”I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that I may praise you..." (from Psalm 51).
It all began with sorrow. With grief.
He is the same God today.
There is a song we sing at church that never ceases to move me:
The nails in Your hands, the nail in Your feet
He did all of that, not only so that I could be forgiven, but because He loves me. That is nothing short of miraculous.
Pain has a way of bringing healing. Remember, it is in the dark that God is teaching us to sing!
Isn’t it about time we got real with God? Face our past hurts. Face the mistakes we have made. Grieve. Surrender. Admit that we need Him. Seek His healing for our hurts. His forgiveness for our sins. That we might say with David...
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