It Is Well

When peace like a river attendeth my soul

When sorrows like sea billows roll

Whatever my lot, you have taught me to say

It is well, it is well with my soul.

These past few weeks have been rough, to say the least. I won’t go into details for fear of tears, but we don’t pick our moments. After each funeral, I had too much time to think. To think about life and our purpose here, to think about things I haven’t said, or done. I’ve thought about pain and death, and how I hate it so much. And each time I thought, God said the same thing to me. “You have a choice. Right here, right now, in the midst of your pain and hurt and grief, you have a choice. Chose Me.”

I rolled it around my mind a few times, flabbergasted that He even thought I wasn’t choosing Him. “God, I’ll always chose you.” (Isn’t that what we’d all like to believe?) And slowly, softly and gently, He said- “In your mind yes, you have chosen me. Nothing else makes sense. But in your heart- deep in there with all the hurt you’re holding on to, all the confusion that clouds everything up. Deep in your heart, chose Me.”

Pause.

What does it mean to chose God in the midst of our pain? When nothing makes sense?

It means you most likely will never get the answers to your questions, but yet you will have peace. It means when life scares you and you feel like locking yourself in your house to avoid all danger, you can walk tall with bravery and confidence in Him. It means that though the tears keep coming and your life is not the same, you have joy and hope knowing the promises God has made to you.

And it has to be a choice. Because that’s how God works. He’s a Father who gives us choices.

So what do you chose? There’s a song by Kari Jobe called “Steady My Heart”. It’s one of those songs that you don’t understand until you’ve experienced pain, which I think we all have by now. God promises to comfort us in our sorrow. Ask anyone who knows true joy how they got it, and I’ll guarantee you it’s because they were once at the bottom of sorrow’s pits. It doesn’t mean we’ll always understand it. And it doesn’t mean we’ll get all the answers we want, but He’s still there handing us everything we need.

Right in the middle of her song, Kari sings, “Even when it hurts, even when it’s hard, even when it all just falls apart. I will run to you, for I know that you are ‘lover of my soul, healer of my scars’. You steady my heart.” Sometimes we don’t get answers- but will we run to Him anyways?

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1.2-4

 And trust me, if you don’t know how to chose God in the midst of your pain, you’re not alone. Just ask Him. He is faithful, and  He’s the only thing that keeps me hanging on.

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

Things I hate learning

There’s a night sky in front of me. It’s dark, and it’s angry, and it’s ready to burst with the threats of a thunderstorm. There’s something so peaceful about writing outside. The lightning is flashing, the thunder is rolling, and I feel like a tiny blip on the radar. I don’t know what it is, but sometimes, feeling insignificant, is a complete blessing.

There’s something that happens deep inside of you when someone passes away. At first, it’s deep, heart wrenching pain. People offer words of comfort, and with the best of intentions, but sometimes you just don’t want to hear it. Sometimes, you just want to be sad. But then. Then comes this urgency. This intense urgency to live. To make it count. To not be the person at the end of their life saying “I wish I would have…” And the urgency is good. As much as I hate death, and believe me, I hate it, I love the urgency.

But how do you make it last? How do you remind yourself, everyday, that this life, the one we’re living, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? That this life here isn’t supposed to be our focus? Because we’re human- and this life is good. Even with pain, there is so much good in this life, and I thank God for that. He is the only reason life here is good.  But this isn’t home. To quote a song “This is our temporary home, it’s not where I belong- window’s and rooms, that I’m passing through. This is just as stop on the way to where I’m going”

In high school, I went to a class in my church. It’s got a long Dutch name, and I’ll probably spell it wrong, so we’ll forget that part. But in it we were required to memorize something. Its part of the theology of that church, and up until this point I haven’t had much good to say about it. But in the past few days, the same thing has been coursing through my mind.

What is your only comfort in life and in death?

That I am not my own, but belong

body and soul

in life and in death

to my faithful saviour, Jesus Christ.

There’s more that we were supposed to memorize, and I’ll be honest, I never did. But how true is this? When staring into the face of death, this is the only comfort I have. This is the only thing I can hold on to. The only thing that I bring with me to see my sweet Jesus. The only thing that, when everything else falls away, this will stand strong, firm and true. My only comfort.

If you put your hope that you’re going to be in heaven one day, I pray that that hope lies in Jesus Christ. That line, “in life and in death”. We’re so willing to take the death part. YES! Pick me to go there- it sounds fantastic. A feast prepared, rooms being set up, streets of gold- book me a room, absolutely. But there’s a cost. A cost that includes pain, suffering, criticism, judgement, persecution, the list goes on. That’s why Jesus separates the sheep from the goats. We’re all willing to receive the prize, but are we as equally willing to fight for it?

We are not held by death. That fight has been won. So how do we live this out? Especially in a world that has so much hurt?

We shine. We shine the light that is inside of us. The light that cannot be dampened, cannot be extinguished, cannot be overthrown. Inside each one of us is a God who protects. He rises when we are challenged, He teaches us His way, which is love, and He promises. So. Many. Things. And God cannot break His promises to us. Hallelujah for that.

Remember your word to your servant

for you have given me hope.

My comfort in my suffering is this:

Your promise preserves my life.

Psalm 119 v49-50

And here comes the thunder. Dance Anthony, dance.

With broken Strength that is not my own, Sam