Here and now

Since then it is by faith that we are justified, let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have confidently entered into this new relationship of grace, and here we take our stand, in happy certainty of the glorious things he has for us in the future.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys—we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us.

-Romans 5

Where were you?

Mourning

I cry, Oh God! Oh Christ! Oh Jesus!

Where are you when the ones who say
they speak for you –those who squeeze us,
press in on every side, demand
that we respect authority,
obey their rules, come (cash in hand)
to hear their words, as only they
have got the regulations straight at last?
Where are you when the weak are hurt,
aggrieved and stumbled in your name?

Don’t you see what they have passed?

I sit entangled with the chords
of bitterness around my feet.
A plant blows over on the boards
that fence me off from outside world.
The petals scatter on the grass
and now the gust of wind that swirled
their frail wings in electric air
becomes a greater blast of rage
that showers ashes in my hair.

Flash tears the sky –breath rent apart,
and splits the veil of one who mourns,
with lightning striking to the heart.
Deep groaning rolls across the vale
from craggy peak to worn down ridge
and rains pours down –beats down in hail.

The sun withdraws beneath a cloud.
and saplings hang their weeping heads
as thunder rails against the proud,
who dare to claim the earth their own,
–and in the woods from hill to hill
creation echoes back the moan.

My tears obscure the sky from view.
Oh God! I cry. God! Where are you?

My child, I hear.  I weep with you.

(written during the struggle)

Letting Go

And Forgive Us our Debts

Nothing left to give.

Look into my empty sack,

my empty jar.

See my cold black torch.

How am I to live?

I cannot pay back what I owe

‘til I get payback for my lack.

And they took it.

They squandered it.

They spent my joy on riots.

They spent my innocence on games.

They threw my peace on the bonfire

and danced around it.

Let go

I’ve squeezed my eyes until they bled,

I’ve held my breath

until my heart pounded on death’s door —

still I cannot disappear

into the disheveled dirt bed

And here you are

–and you want more.

How dare you?

How dare you, God?

How dare you?

How dare you shove

your saber hand into my chest

and divide spent spirit from sullied soul

to reach the hissing python.

Let go

I can’t let go!

It’s only anger —

it’s only hate

that coiled around my crooked spine

enables me to stand up straight

and curse them!

Let go

Aren’t you gentle Jesus

meek and mild?

Go take your love to some purer child.

And stop that!

You’re hurting me!

Let go

They poached my song!

They caught my rhyme!

They raped my soul!

They took my time!

They grabbed my mind

and jammed it on a fearsome pike –as a warning.

They took my gates forever.

I’ve damned the light

and sealed the sash

with dark green plastic meant for trash.

What good are thickened walls of stone

when the door’s been burned to ash.

Let go

The bill’s right here;

I have kept track.

My hands will tighten ‘round their necks.

My hands are strong —

they’ll not be slack

‘til I get everything I lack.

Give it back!

Give it back!

Give it back!

Let go

You let go!

I’m offended by this “loving hand”

that feels more like a gunshot wound.

Let go

I can’t let go!

I won’t let go!

I don’t want to let go!

They owe me!

Let go

Help me.

Let go

You know if I let go it will kill me.

I know

It’s hard.

I can’t fill your hands until you empty them.

Who is going to help me?

I am.

(This poem was written about one of the toughest steps in healing from chronic depression  –forgiveness. To me forgiveness is about letting go of legitimate debts owed me and allowing God to supply my needs.)

Therefore I remember

Someone asked me recently, “What is the difference between heartache and depression?” Having known both I could answer, “Heartache causes you to cry out, in your pain, to the God of hope; depression causes you to lose sight of hope.”

I do not believe that humankind faces any greater pain than the loss of hope. I’ve had a lot of painful physical problems in my life, but none so bad that I wanted to die just so the pain would stop. Depression made me want to die.

I was familiar with the sense that the dark clouds were again descending and feeling helpless to stop the storm that sucked all the colour out of my life. If you understand what I mean by this, I urge you to keep your eyes on the sliver of light on the horizon, and when it disappears, to cling by faith to the memory and certain hope that light is indeed still there and will again arise in the dark. And if that fails, cling to someone who can carry faith for you.

The psalmist understood this pain.

As a deer longs for streams of water,

so I long for You, God.

 I thirst for God, the living God.

When can I come and appear before God?

 My tears have been my food day and night,

while all day long people say to me,

“Where is your God?”

 I remember this as I pour out my heart:

how I walked with many,

leading the festive procession to the house of God,

with joyful and thankful shouts.

 

 Why am I so depressed?

Why this turmoil within me?

Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him,

my Savior and my God.

 I am deeply depressed;

therefore I remember You from the land of Jordan

and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

 Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls;

all Your breakers and Your billows have swept over me.

 The LORD will send His faithful love by day;

His song will be with me in the night—

a prayer to the God of my life.

 

 I will say to God, my rock,

“Why have You forgotten me?

Why must I go about in sorrow

because of the enemy’s oppression?”

 My adversaries taunt me,

as if crushing my bones,

while all day long they say to me,

“Where is your God?”

 Why am I so depressed?

Why this turmoil within me?

Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him,

my Savior and my God. –Psalm 42

There is no pain or humiliation that Jesus does not understand.

There is hope! After 40 years of  seeing that darkness descend again and again I am finally free. I am so happy -yes happy- to be alive! The God of hope is faithful to his promises. He is so good!  He is so very, very good and I praise him with all my joyful heart!

Use your words

I heard a newborn baby crying in church. You know, it was a sweet sound. The mom had a difficult delivery and it was such a blessing to see both of them happy and healthy.

Some of the kids turned around to see what was wrong — or to see how long the baby was going to get away with this. I felt like explaining to them that crying is the only language babies have and it doesn’t always mean they are in pain, or even that something is wrong.

Then the Lord spoke to me in my spirit and said, “Sometimes people cry and whine because it’s the only language they have.”

This came up in the context of praying about how to respond to people I care about, but who cry and whine a lot. (OK, I’m one too). Sometimes I feel like a mom in the kitchen at 5 o’clock with a whimpering baby demanding to be picked up and a whiny toddler demanding immediate satisfaction and an older child groaning about being asked to set the table. I get frustrated and I am so tempted to snap at them using a less than kind tone myself.

If a child is never spoken to she will never learn to use words. If a child is only criticized he will never learn to speak positively. Children learn by hearing, or by watching in the case of sign language, and then by being given opportunities and encouragement to practise their new skills.

Sometimes, like my three toddler grandchildren, we need to be reminded to use the skills we are gaining. Frustration and whining decreased when they learned the signs for milk, please and thank you. Now they are starting to talk, and the oldest one is being actively taught to use kind words by her parents who have instituted a time of blessing every day. Even the 18 month old is learning to say, “Nice, smart, kind, strong.”

I wonder if some people cry and protest a lot because it is the only language they know. I wonder if we need to teach people how to gain new ways of expressing themselves. I wonder if we need to speak more kind words to them.

I wonder if my prayers would be more effective if my first response to Abba’s requests was not a groan. (Although admittedly there are sometimes in prayer when there are no words, and only a primal moan will do.)

I wonder if we need to be very understanding of those who only have the language of crying.

I wonder if we also need to seek the Lord for discernment and wisdom as they grow to recognize the time to start withholding gratification and to say, in as kind and patient a voice as we can manage, “Use your words.”

I wonder if God sometimes withholds gratification until we learn to communicate respectfully with an attitude of trust and appreciation –to help us mature. I hear him say, “Use your words, honey.”

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. Phil 4:6