There are some days that are hard for me to get out of bed in the morning. It's not because of physical ailments, although they don't help either, but rather the fight against the enemy of my soul. He whispers half-truths and reminds me of infractions that either I have committed or what others have committed against me. I have to admit that I do feel guilty about this (not wanting to get out of bed to face the day) as I have so much to be thankful for and so much to do. The Lord has solved my greatest problem and the list of good/great things in my life is long. I have this mental conversation on these mornings to get myself going because, on these mornings that can extend into the day, my heart is heavy. One doesn't get to my age without having the heart broken in ways that can't be escaped from or easily mended. There are wounds that go deep and seem to fester no matter how much salve I put on them.
"How do you mend a broken heart, how do you stop the rain from coming down.
How do you stop the sun from shining, what makes the world go round?" ~ The Bee Gees
There is a realization that this is kind of a bummer of a blog post. And yet, the inkling to say something about the heart being broken has been on my mind for some time and won't go away. Hopefully, in saying something about it I will strike a chord with others because the world is a broken place with pieces of people's lives scattered hither and yon. You are out there, I know, because I hear your stories and my heart breaks for you even more than my own tale of woe. And yet, tomorrow still comes even for those who are looking square into the face of divorce. Sickness still strikes the soul who trusts in Jesus. Financial worries are a perennial plague. Some friends betray you and foes attack you. Sometimes, it feels like you are all alone.
Listening to a band call "Indelible Grace" the other day I was struck by the words of sorrow. They have taken old hymns and re-written the music to it. Many of the hymns talk about hardships and trials. John Newton talked about almost being driven to the point of despair. Charles Wesley wrote about hiding in the bosom of the Savior until the storm was past. The Psalms are full of words that belie the need for comfort and help. Romans talks about the earth being subjected to futility and the Apostle Paul talks about the Spirit groaning within us with words too deep to understand. I think that I cry a lot more these days as I consider the hurts of the past or other's pain. I live in this tension of what theologians call "the now and not yet" because I yearn for things to be made right when, in fact, they might never be made right until I see Jesus. So for now, I groan.
John Murray, in his commentary of Romans says this about our inward groanings:
"As God searches the hearts of the children of God he finds unuttered and unutterable groanings. Though they are thus inarticulate, there is a meaning and intent that cannot escape the omniscient eye of God -- they are wholly intelligible to him. And, furthermore, they are found to be in accordance with his will. They are consonant with his will because, though surpassing our understanding and utterance, they are indicted by the Holy Spirit and are the ways in which his intercessions come to expression in our consciousness. Since they are the intercessions of the Holy Spirit, they always meet with the understanding and approval of God."
Jesus, himself, was called the man of sorrows. He was aquainted with grief. I know that He will, one day, wipe away all tears from our eyes. And yet, His scars will remain forever even though He is the conquering King and glorious Lord. How do I live in this mortal body that is for now destined to decay and ruin? And what does it look like to live in light of eternity especially when you feel like the world has just plain beaten you up? If my Savior suffered, scripture tells me that so will I. It's not what the American dream tells us. Sometimes even in the church it is an embarrassment to admit to having sorrow. So, here it is again ~ the sorrows of mankind mixed in with the joys of being called by the suffering, conquering King. It's the good and bad mixed in all together. In reality, God uses it all for good but, at times, it just doesn't feel that way.
What am I trying to say in all of this? Maybe that it's okay to feel the hurts and sorrows that come our way and admit to them. Someone said, not long ago, that we don't get to choose how we glorify God. This was a man who had, six months previously, lost his young wife to cancer and still having five children left to raise. Sometimes life hurts really bad and there is no denying it. Romans 8 goes on to say things like, "...all things working together for good for those who love God..." and "...in all these things we are more than conquerors." It seems like such an oxymoron at times but it is what gets me out of bed on those mornings that I struggle. The bottom line is this: I believe that God is good and that His intentions towards me are also good. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Ultimately, I don't get to breathe for me but I get to breathe for Him. His promises tell me that nothing will separate me from His love. So, for now, in the tension between the now and not yet, it is more than enough for the heart that breaks.
On Thee, when waves of trouble roll,
My fainting hope relies
To Thee I tell each rising grief,
For Thou alone canst heal
Thy Word can bring a sweet relief,
For every pain I feel
2. But oh! When gloomy doubts prevail,
I fear to call Thee mine
The springs of comfort seem to fail,
And all my hopes decline
Yet gracious God, where shall I flee?
Thou art my only trust
And still my soul would cleave to Thee
Though prostrate in the dust
3. Hast Thou not bid me seek Thy face,
And shall I seek in vain?
And can the ear of sovereign grace,
Be deaf when I complain?
No still the ear of sovereign grace,
Attends the mourner's prayer
Oh may I ever find access,
To breathe my sorrows there
4. Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will,
And wait beneath Thy feet,
Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will,
And wait beneath Thy feet.