“And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches.” (Isaiah 45:3)
Grief visited this week. It threw shadows across my path as family and friends grieved over the loss of loved ones. People were left with sadness, tears in their eyes and empty spaces in their homes. There really were no words to say.
When hard times come, when the darkness has crept into our day, we can know that God is there with us, close. For He is close to the broken hearted. He knows our pain, our loss. He hears our whispers of fear and hurt and He catches every tear that we shed.
In during these times, we will discover treasures in the darkness. Treasures of God’s grace as we find the strength to get through. Treasures of friends gathering to show their love and care. Treasures of prayers and an awareness of God calling people to pray. Treasures of a deeper revelation of God’s love for us.
We find the laughter and the light grows stronger and brighter again.
The darker the night,
The brighter the day,
The fiercer the fight,
The stronger the faith,
So I place my hope in You
(Kristene Mueller – Redemption)
Some days you just feel weary. Weary from being brave the moment you step out your door. Weary from weathering the storms of life. And you reach the end of the day and you feel spent. That hard phone call that added more load to your back with the future it seemingly painted. That unexpected hurt that made your heart heavy.
You pour that cup of cold tea away because the day never let you have it. And you feel like a knitted top that’s had a pull in it begin to unravel and fray and you can’t seem to stop it.
And then you read something that speaks straight to your heart, and you feel your soul sigh with relief as you’re reminded of God’s grace and hope…
“Feels like there’s a million things coming at you as you look into the week ahead, but really there is always only one thing: Just. Stay. Calm.
“The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm” Ex14:14
Let the Spirit in dwell, before stepping into the hour, day, week. This is the way calm comes. For God will do the battle for you. You just do the breathing in Him.… Jesus didn’t just calm one storm—He can calm all our storms. And He comes as a sign to us, a sign of the cross, a sign God’s reaching for us, believing in us, in love, in redemption, in making all things new, in making us enough because He is.
And He comes like light through rain coming down. ” (Ann Voskamp)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”(Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)
And maybe that pull in the knitted top can be fixed and doesn’t need to unravel any further.
I’ve been feeling rather undone by Christmas this year. As I listen to carols playing I have found tears easily springing to my eyes. The familiar words so joyous, so glad have been wrecking havoc on my spirit. You see this year I got a little broken, my heart’s a little more fragile, a little more vulnerable. Grief has visited. Worry and fear have oft crouched at my door.
But my tears aren’t in sadness. They are a response to a deeper awareness of my need for Emmanuel – God with us. That I need the Prince of Peace in my every day living, all my days. The carols remind me, remind us of the hope, the joy, peace and love that is found in Christ. And as the carols sing of the promise of Jesus, I know that we live in the reality of that promise. That God is with us. That Jesus has come.
This year may have held its hard days, but they were not dark. For the promised Light of the World shone His light into my darkness. Brought joy when mine was gone. Jesus has displaced fear with His love, despair with His hope and left peace where there should have been none.
So while I may continue being a little teary this Christmas it is only because my heart is joining with the angels declaring “Glory to God in the highest!”
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight
I’m sure all of us hold many hopes for the future. Dreams for what we hope it holds. Hopes and desires for our families, for work, for our passions. We can also carry fears for the future. Of what could happen, fears of what we think lies ahead. It’s like a coin – two sides – hopes on one side, fears on the other.
It’s why I love the line in the carol “O little town of Bethlehem” which says
“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” A baby, born in the little town of Bethlehem, is the answer to all our hopes and fears. We can trust our thoughts of the future – whether they are hopes or fears to Jesus.
And when we entrust our hopes and fears to Him, we will find rest. We will find peace.
“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.” (Psalm 62:5)
The Christmas Season is upon us. Most of the season will be spent in preparation for the celebration of Christmas day. The purchasing of presents, the gathering of food, the decorating of our homes. Today in my household the furniture is being rearranged to make room for the Christmas tree to be put up.
As I prepare my home for Christmas, I can’t help but think how much this part of Christmas echoes the Israelites as they awaiting their Messiah. The waiting, the expectation, the hope.
Even though I am busy with my preparations, I feel the peace, the anticipation for Christmas Day and all its wonderful celebrations. I feel my heart begin to fill again with the joy of Christmas. The carols playing in the background begin the call to focus and remember the birth of Jesus.
This season may be frantic as our calendars fill up with events, but as we prepare our homes for Christmas let’s not forget that once a people waited too. Let’s remember also that this waiting foreshadows another day still to come, when Jesus comes again.
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
“And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
(St Julian of Norwich ca. 1342 – 1416)
It was Queen Elizabeth who said that “grief is the price we pay for love.” And it was her grandson Prince Harry who recently shared that when you’re grieving you need to know that there is laughter after the tears, happiness to be found, life to be lived.
Some days when we’re in a hard season, when we’re having a tough time facing whatever we’re facing, it helps to look a little further down the road at someone who perhaps has walked a similar path. We look for glimpses of life after tears, of joy and brightness. We hang on to the stories of bravery, of overcoming, of slugging it out and making it to the other side. It lets us breathe and know that this too shall pass.
Sometimes it is a simple as hearing that the sleepless nights will end, the stress at work won’t last and even that the dentist appointment will be ok!
It’s knowing that the horizon will beckon us forward again to new seasons. There is a time to mourn, to weep, but there also comes a time of laughter and dancing. And it’s knowing that God is here with us today in the tears, but there tomorrow too with abundant grace and mercy.
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
“The goodness of God is challenged everyday with the punches of life” (Havilah Cunnington)
Let’s face it, some days can be hard and we’re left wishing we’d put on boxing gloves to knock back some of the things that have come our way. Some days it can feel we’re living on the wrong side of the crucifixion and not in the light of the Resurrection.
In the absence of answers, of breakthroughs and in the absence of resurrection power it can be a challenge to continue to trust in the goodness of God. And that is right where the enemy wants us. The moment we begin to doubt God’s goodness. The moment we begin to lose trust in God is when we begin to harden our hearts against Him. It’s been the enemy’s strategy since the beginning of time, outplayed first in the Garden of Eden. The enemy wants us to believe that God is really the bad guy and so he seeks to undermine our trust in God. Why? Because ultimately you can’t love a God who you don’t trust.
Bill Johnson said this “don’t allow what you don’t understand to dislodge what you do understand.” We can’t allow ourselves to lower our theology, our understanding of who God is to the level of our circumstances. At the crossroads of faith we need to move closer to God not further away. We were never promised a life without trials and tribulation. But we were promised a life of peace during these storms. We need to invite God into our messy, hurting hearts and lives and let Him heal us, comfort and strengthen us.
In times like these, when bad news seems to always be the headlines, we need to hold onto God even more tightly, to anchor our hearts to His goodness, to His love and to His peace. That is what makes our hearts, our faith secure. At the end of the day, God is good guy, always. And by the way, He wins!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
I don’t know what the future holds. None of us do. And if I am honest I would say that my thoughts of the future can one day be optimistic in a let’s conquer the world kind of the way and the next day the very thought of it can scare the living daylights out of me. Even picking up the daily paper with its reports on global warming or war or recession or even the pitfalls facing children in today’s world can be disquieting for our souls.
But despite our circumstances, despite our fears, despite our outlook even, God’s got us! As we take a leap of faith into the future, we can know that God is in control. Time and time again in the Bible we see God reassuring His people that He’s there for them and not to worry or be afraid. Take Joshua, faced with the death of Moses he unexpectedly became the leader of the Israelites. I can only imagine that he must have been nervous, scared even, when he had to step into Moses’ shoes. God though assured him,“… I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you” (Joshua 1:5b).
Just as He promised Joshua, we too can step into the future with confidence and assurance that God will always be with us. That God who created the Universe, who created us, who knew us before we were born and is no stranger to the future is alongside us, always.
As someone once said “I don’t know what the future holds but I know who holds the future.”
“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4)
God’s got this!