Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Remember & Meditate on God's Acts of Old

Yesterday I wrote about God hearing and answering our prayers.  But what about when God's bewilderingly inactive and seems far from our prayers?

I currently have a handful of dear women in my life who desperately want children and are having difficulty getting or remaining pregnant.

Friends, this is an emotionally painful and difficult journey to be on.  To some extent, I understand their struggle having spent nearly 2 years myself trying to get pregnant.  But there are still so many roads that I never had to take on that journey; so much I never had to endure.

There are likely some of you reading who can also relate.
And perhaps, some of you are currently on this difficult journey.

What I find most difficult about watching women go through this is the reality that so many never have to walk this journey.  God gives them children quickly and easily.

This seemingly unfair advantage is confusing, even troubling. 

Why do some have to suffer through years of waiting and others get pregnant "accidentally" or on their first try?

Why are some never given children of their own and others (perhaps even some who never wanted children) have been given many of their own?

This journey is one of those God mysteries that leave us longing for answers.  Especially those who are faithfully crying out to God in their distress.

Are you near God?
Do you see and feel my aching heart?
Why are you silent?

The first 9 verses of Psalm 77 articulate the heart's cry of anyone who has or is walking this infertility journey. It speaks of an anguished perplexity over God's inaction when it seems that He is failing to respond to unceasing prayer:

1 I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.
3 I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.[b]
4 You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
5 I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
6 I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
7 “Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?

I cried out to God with similar questions as I struggled to get pregnant. When my face was covered with a blanket of cystic acne, I prayed them as well. I've prayed them for countless others in my life as I've watched them struggle during difficult journeys with infertility, singleness, sickness, or death.

While we cannot always understand God while on these difficult journeys, we CAN make a faith decision to look beyond the present troubles-- and God's bewildering inactivity--and draw hope anew from God's saving acts of old! We can remind ourselves of and cling to the hope from those acts of goodness He has already done.

The remainder of Psalm 77 focuses on this. It outlines God's mighty acts during the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Verses 16-19 specifically describe the majesty of God displayed when he opened the Red Sea. The author chooses to focus on what God has already done rather on what He hasn't.

Read for yourself:

10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
13 Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
16 The waters saw you, God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
the heavens resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.
20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

So we are called to REMEMBER and MEDITATE on God's mighty acts of old!

Perhaps you are currently on an emotionally painful and difficult journey. One in which you find yourself desperately crying out to God.

Are you single and waiting for a life companion?
Is your child battling disease and sickness?
Is your job a daily struggle and nothing like you ever imagined it to be?
Or perhaps you're desperate for a new job?
Have you lost someone dear to you?
Are you hurting over a past wrong done to you?
Is your child rebellious and caught up in an addictive and crippling sin?
Are you weary and heavy-burdened over injustice in this world?

If you answered yes to any of these questions...then your journey is difficult. And likely you have lots of questions for God.

Yet, will you take the challenge of Psalm 77?

Will you make a faith decision to look beyond your present trouble and God's bewildering inactivity and choose to draw hope from God's saving acts of old?
Where can you find these acts of old?
Look in Scripture.
Ask a friend what God has done for them.
Ask yourself what God has already done for you.
Ask God to show you or remind you.

And then choose to remember and meditate on God's mighty acts of His goodness, in His power, in His miracles, in His timing, and in His control and leading during each of those acts.

While struggling to understand God on any difficult journey, remembering and meditating on who He has been and what He has done in the past is the only true source of hope. It's NOT positive thinking, it's NOT looking for a silver lining. Instead, it's admitting confusion with God. It's recognizing the difficulty of the journey. And it's drawing actual hope from God's past evidences of His goodness, mercy, and greatness!

As I watch dear friends struggle with infertility, my only hope amidst questions and confusion with God is to cling to His acts of old. So, I will make a faith decision to draw hope anew as I rememeber and meditate on God's goodness in my life and in the lives of countless others.

With His help, I will wait for an answer or for the journey to end with a heart and mind focused on what God has already done, thus renewing my hope for what He will do.

Won't you try this for yourself?

Let's pray that our children will as well:

When my children find themselves on a difficult life journey where they are greatly confused about Your bewildering inactivity, I pray they would make a faith decision to draw hope anew from Your saving acts of old. May they meditate and remember what You have already done in their lives and in the lives of countless others. And may these memories bring them hope on life's difficult journeys and give them the strength to continue to trust and believe that You are good.

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