Psalm 13:1-2 (ESV)
I have become a man that keeps things close to his chest, as sometimes I just find it easier that way. I used to be anti-facade and was the biggest advocate of authenticity and vulnerability. I still am, but with the right people. I am letting my guard down a bit, in hopes that this blog might speak to somebody else as well. I look at Facebook and daily see hurts out there in abundance. I have my share, but I am re-learning what it means to surrender those at the foot of the cross, and to go to my source of strength.
I am fast approaching 2 years since the death of my eldest son David from an auto accident. I have learned much over the past 2 years and have unlearned just as much. I went from having what I thought was a very close walk with Jesus, to one of feeling nothingness. In looking back, I believe that I was very Pharasitical in my approach to Christianity. As much as we say that Christianity is not a works-based religion, many of us tend to demonstrate the opposite in our actions. We tend to weigh one's depth with God on how many people we disciple, the amount of Bible Study groups that we are a part of, how many scriptures verses we can memorize and recite, or the number of "Bad" things that we are abstaining from. All these in and of themselves are not bad, but I am learning that they are not the measuring stick that God is judging us by to evaluate our depth of closeness to Him. In addition, just because I might not "feel" a certain way, does not make that the condition and situation of which I am.
So how does God evaluate our depth in our walk with Him? Well, funny you should ask. I believe that God is more interested in our brokenness than we want to believe. Now some of you are reading this and thinking to yourselves that you have got to be closer to God than anyone else, as your life is a broken mess. Allow me to elaborate before you interpret this incorrectly. Brokenness in and of itself is not what God is looking for, but rather what we do with ourselves in bringing that to Him in surrender. Many play the victim and wear it as a badge of honor, but never constructively learn who The Healer is, and that only He can fix you. I have always said that a person should surround themselves with those that are stronger and wiser than them. Someone who has already gone through many of the storms of life and has come out the other side a little drenched and worse for wear, but they gained wisdom and learned from their situation. I have been doing this as of late with King David, the Psalmist in the Old Testament. He not only lost a child and understood that grief, but also was rejected by his murderous King Saul. He was alienated from his family while on the run, and his best friend Jonathan. His enemies were always at his doorstep. The awe-inspiring aspect of King David is how he is vulnerable and laments but doesn't stop there. He goes on in the same chapter of his lamenting to cry out to God as his source of strength and comfort.
"Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O LORD--how long?"
"I am weary with my moaning's; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all of my foes."
Psalm 6:2-3 & 6-8 (ESV)
"To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary."
Psalm 28: 1-2
In these passages we witness the Psalmist lamenting. Maybe some of us have experienced this more than others, as life can be full of heartache. The question that is posed by me and the Psalmist is "How Long, O LORD?" It is a fair question to inquire how long one might have to endure one's grief, depression, heartache, rejection, etc. However, don't expect an immediate answer. I am learning that we go through seasons of life that might appear like alienation from God, but in reality, we just don't hear Him breathing beside us.
Up until now, I have struggled with some anger and bitterness towards God. I have wondered why my son had to die. I know that we live in a sinful world and a fallen generation, and that God did not steal my son from me, but rather satan. However, I also know that if He desired, it was in God's grasp to prevent this from happening. A wise man once told me that asking the "Why" questions won't get you anywhere and will drive you insane. I now see that the "Why" of the situation will never be answered, but I continue to ask, "How Long, O LORD?" I want to point out that I find it very interesting how King David puts in all caps "LORD" in these passages. LORD as translated is addressing Yahweh, which is the personal name and relationship with the God of the Hebrews. This was differentiated from "Lord" which was the term or name for Adonai as the Hebrews Lord. The small cap was a less personal approach to God, then all caps in calling him personally by name. It would be similar to somebody addressing me as the writer of this blog, versus calling me by my name of Greg Jacobs. This to me shows that there was a very real feeling of hurt/grief/alienation from God that King David felt deep inside of himself, but that he did not allow the hurt to turn to bitterness in order to distance himself from his relationship with Yahweh, his God.
In closing, it is okay to go through those valleys of alienation and isolation. It is never sought after, but they come anyway, as they are a part of life. However, as I am learning, it is never okay to reside in a state of staleness and bitterness against God. For me, this is applicable in my grief that I am going through. For another, it might apply to a divorce, broken friendship, alienation from society from working remotely, etc. I believe that the first step is to admit your brokenness, then to learn to bring it to the foot of our maker in surrender to Him. That is easier said than done, I get it. I have struggled with reading my Bible and praying as of late, so I have resorted in reading these Psalms out loud to God, as they mirror my thoughts. God understands and is blessed by our heart and desire for us to go to the source. He made us inquisitive human beings that ask questions, so He is never alarmed or surprised at our emotions. Just remember that we are all in different seasons of life. This season might be a really hard one for you, and if so, I pray that my words enwrap around you in some empathetic comfort. If this is a great season for you, that is awesome. I would challenge you to do two things during this season of joy. First, ask God how you might be able to love on someone you know who is struggling right now. Secondly, prepare yourself for the seasons of darkness so you will not be caught unaware.
I am intrigued that King David starts a chapter with lamenting, but then finishes it strongly with affirmation in his trust in God. We saw earlier the lamenting of King David, but then now we see him call out his source of strength and refuge:
"Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever."
Psalm 28:7-9 (ESV)