Sunday, February 13, 2011

On Happily Ever After and Life

Once upon a time there was a beautiful little girl, with big twinkling blue eyes. She had lots of people to love an adore her.  Happy, bubbly, full of excitement. She loved to dream, and pretend all sorts of wonderful things --  all that was back when fairy tales weren't make believe.

Then she grew up and found out they weren't real. That real life, almost always, doesn't fall into place like fairy tales do. And even if life is full of many little blessings, like sunshine, flowers, falling in love, and having babies, it still hurts.

I recently burst into tears after finishing a Taylor Swift music video- a Taylor Swift music video! - because deep down I still am that bubbly little girl who wants everything to end up beautiful, and wishes every story could end without brokenness and heartache. Yet, sometimes there are fights at 2:30 AM that do end in good-bye. Sometimes a first kiss isn't fearless. Sometimes Romeo doesn't come.  And with those examples, we're only addressing the mind of a 21-year-old pop-star. There are far greater problems in the world.

These thoughts have been developing in my mind now for several months. As I began to formulate thoughts for this post I was frustrated again and again in my attempts. I realized I did not have a profound answer. I realized understanding suffering, and God's purpose in it, was still something that I struggled with in my heart of hearts. How could I write about something I don't even understand? 

The Lord continued to speak to me, though. Bible Study after Bible Study, sermon after sermon, conversation after conversation, so many pieces were coming together. I still do not understand... but I do believe God's promises do not fall void. In searching, and waiting for God's wisdom on a subject I feel everyone must struggle with at some point, He showed me over and over beautiful truths that bring me to my knees, and leave me praising my great High Priest.

How many times I have felt perplexed beyond comprehension, afflicted beyond enduring, and yet had hope coming flying in on the wings of the Holy Spirit (lame imagery?) at the final hour, reminding me all is not lost. Below is a compilation of verses and songs that have comforted me through pain. It doesn't take much to notice how many people are hurting all around the world, but over and over again I am amazed at the comfort the Gospel of Christ offers to every one of us.

2 Corinthians 4:7-14 "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed. Perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.... Since we have the same spirit of faith... knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence."

Hebrews 2:7-9 "'...You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.' Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside of his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone."

In Christ Alone, Keith and Kristyn Getty

"No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;

Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Psalm 56:8,9b "You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?... This I know, that God is for me."

Revelation 7:17 "For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

And there is a day coming that will be beyond our wildest dreams. As wonderful, or as wretched as this life may be, heaven will be far more glorious. This world is as bad as it's gonna get for those in Christ.

A favorite of mine: Josh Wilson, Before the Morning

"Do you wonder why you have to
  feel the things that hurt you,
if there's a God who loves you,
where is He now?

Maybe, there are things you can't see
and all those things are happening
to bring a better ending
some day, some how, you'll see, you'll see

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

So hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the dark before the morning"

1 Peter 5:10-11 "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen."

"To everyone who's lost someone they love
Long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
when you said goodbye

And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there's nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right...

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

For the marriage that's struggling just to hang on
They lost all of their faith and love
They've done all they can to make it right again
Still it's not enough

For the ones who can't break the addictions and chains
You try to give up but you come back again
Just remember that you're not alone in your shame
And your suffering...

When your lonely (when you're lonely)
And it feels like the whole world is falling on you
You just reach out, you just cry out to Jesus
Cry to Jesus

To the widow who suffers from being alone
Wiping the tears from her eyes
For the children around the world without a home
Say a prayer tonight

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are

Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus." 

Galatians 6:9 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

2 Corinthians 4:16-18"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory, beyond all comparison, as we look not the the things that are seen, but the the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen and eternal."

2 Peter 3:13 "But in keeping with his promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness."

"On Jordan's stormy banks I stand
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan's fair and happy land
Where my possessions lie

All o'er those wide extended plains
Shines one eternal day
There God, the Son forever reigns
And scatters night away...

No chilling wind nor poisonous breath
Can reach that healthful shore
Where sickness, sorrow, pain and death
Are felt and feared no more

When shall I see that happy place
And be forever blessed
When shall I see my Father's face
And in His bosom rest

I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the promised land!"

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