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Posts from the ‘Lament’ Category

SEE GOD

Have you ever noticed that when we suffer deeply, the cultural niceties and religious platitudes we have lived by and spoken in the past, fall to the wayside. Raw and brutally honest words of lament leave our lips. Words that reveal what has always lurked in our human hearts: unbelief and distrust, brokenness and wounding. God brings it all to the surface to begin a work of deeper heart healing, just as He did in Moses:

 

Then Moses turned again to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have You brought harm and oppression to this people? Why did You ever send me? [I cannot understand Your purpose!] Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has harmed and oppressed this people, and You have done nothing at all to rescue Your people.”
EXODUS 5:22‭-‬23 AMP

 

But it is this uncovering, this emptying of ourselves that makes room for truth and grace to do its work in us. It is what lifts our burdens and restores us unto God and unto others through Him. It is what enables us to hear and heed the Voice of God:

 

I have also heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, whom the Egyptians have enslaved, and I have [faithfully] remembered My covenant [with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob]. Therefore, say to the children of Israel, ‘I am the Lord , and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will free you from their bondage. I will redeem and rescue you with an outstretched (vigorous, powerful) arm and with great acts of judgment [against Egypt]. Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who redeemed you and brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel); and I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord [you have the promise of My changeless omnipotence and faithfulness].’ ”
EXODUS 6:5‭-‬8 AMP

 

 

I watched my Mum walk through her own exodus: glioblastoma multiforme. The same cancer that came into the news when a young woman chose to forego the horrific suffering it causes to end her own life. It was deeply traumatic to watch this cancer steal, kill and destroy my Mum’s earthly tent. But as that cancer took, took and took from her body, God gave, gave and gave spiritual life to my Mum and to us all.

 

Human sin caused illness, disease and death to enter our world. My Mum was not without sin. We are not without sin. But God’s compassions faileth not:

 

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God [that is, His remarkable, overwhelming gift of grace to believers] is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
ROMANS 6:23 AMP

 

In the midst of one of the most horrific of diseases, God began to release my Mum from her earthly cage and usher her into the truth of her eternal heritage in new and stunning ways.

 

Glioblastoma multiforme took away my Mum’s social filter. This, living like each day could be her last and the godly wisdom birthed through the Christian counseling diploma she completed in her final months, brought the beauty of God, truth kissing grace, to the surface.

 

My Mum began to uncover secrets that had been swept under the carpet, she began to speak truth she had withheld in the name of “grace”. My Mum sought forgiveness, openly shared of lacking boundaries in her life, of not seeking the rest she should have and how that negatively impacted our family, her children, the most. My Mum lamented past decisions, wrestled with her present and her past, seeking God in it all.

 

What my Mum truly believed and thought came to the surface, her doubts and her fears, and God met her so powerfully in these pure exchanges with Him and with us. Sometimes what she spoke deeply hurt us and yet her genuineness was also so refreshing because it showed us what she had been thinking all along. This may have caused major friction at times, but it was precisely this friction that began to chip away at my own defenses and maybe at others’ too.

God was purifying my heart to commune with Him, and with others, in Spirit and in truth, through the power of Jesus at work in my Mum. He was uncovering what was still shrouding His beautiful pearl, the meaning of my mother’s given name. For, my mother was hearing and heeding her Heavenly Father’s call:

 

Luke 8:16-18 ESV

16 “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. 18 Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”

 

Mum and our eldest on one of my parents’ many visits to our home in the Netherlands, less than three years before she entered heaven’s gates. She would have celebrated her 65th birthday on the 15th of this month.

 

Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall:

 

SEE GOD

 

When I think of those days

I now remember more

More than the pain

The sorrow, the fear.

 

I remember you

Shining the light

The smiles

The bright of your sparkle.

 

That day before operation D-day

All I saw

On your face

Was joy.

 

Joy in our midst

Thankful to be together

Gathering us beneath your wings

Like a mother hen, her chicks.

 

We, we were scared

But you

You were His peace

Calming our souls.

 

Each day you drunk

To the max

Even when you couldn’t

Swallow.

 

His peace upon you stayed

As a fantail

You’ve always sung His song

To us, and still do.

 

 

We buried your body

But you live in us still

That smile, that bubbling of life

You have given your children and theirs.

 

God’s Spirit

Your gift from above

In surrender you poured to the max

That our hearts would remember.

 

Death is not your end

Only the beginning of more

For all of those prayers you once prayed

His Words you plentiful spoke

The salt of His favor

They’re birthing a sea of abundance.

 

You’re very much living, alive

A cloud of witnesses above us

You’re watching and waiting

For the day

We’ll see with you too

In full.

 

No Good Thing Will He Withhold

Joining the Five Minute Friday community a little late this week to write on the prompt:

 

 

Psalm 84: 11 AMP

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord bestows grace and favor and honor; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

 

When I was a preteen, my heart yearned for the deep down grace I saw in new believers’ hearts, in those who had lived in darkness as children and came to Christ as adults. They had something I wanted. Something I knew I didn’t possess. God gave me what I wanted and yet I didn’t see that until more than twenty years later.

 

What did He give me? He gave me a heart spilling out in the midst of trauma. He gave me light shining into my darkness. As a preteen and teen, that scared me. I wrestled with what was spilling out. I was afraid of God’s light. No, I was terrified. Why? Because I believed good Christian girls didn’t struggle as I did.

 

What was spilling out most? Distrust, doubt, anger, pain and unbelief. And in my wrestling, I yo-yoed between turning toward and turning away from God. Between numbing and pouring out. Between sinful distractions and brutally honest laments. There were ugly moments of sin and there were beautiful and powerful moments of mercy.

 

Until, my eyes began to rest more on human idols than they did on God. Until I began to see God, through the lens of man. Until Scripture, which was used to justify a truth void of grace, began to frighten me, rather than move me to trust and faith. Until I no longer worshipped God, but man, believing man to be God personified.

 

When I finally fled my idols, believing those idols to be God, it didn’t take me away from God. Instead, my Prodigal path set my Savior’s sovereign plan of redemption into action. He guided me blind, as without even knowing it, I began to walk into truth and grace. Into the depths of His mercy and His everlasting love not just for me, but for each one of His children.

 

When He opened my eyes to faith, I returned to my idols without even realizing it. My as yet untransformed, legalistic mind turned toward explaining away, controlling and sinking my feet into what was known and safe. Until my untransformed mind began to grate with the mind of Christ at work in me. Until my Savior challenged me to question what I had always believed to be true and what others told me was true. Until He encouraged me to still to hear His Voice, and to surrender to His will. A will that called me, not to clamp down in control or to sit still in my known, but to step out into the unknown deep.

 

It’s then, the trauma that first began my Prodigal journey was triggered again, as I met the same religious responses I once did as a child. But this time, as I wrestled and yo-yoed between sinful numbing and brutally honest laments, my roots of faith did not give way. Instead my feet did not move, even as I longed for them to, because my roots were no longer shallow, but growing deep. They stretched out through the darkness of the earth below to drink from my rivers of delight: Christ.

 

I cried out to God again and again and again, and each time, He heard my cry. He reached out and drew me up out of the deep, setting my feet upon the Rock. In my terrible lack, I discovered not just once, but again and again, that in Christ I lack no good thing. God has begun to break open the seed He planted deep in my heart all those years before (Psalm 139:12 ESV):

 

“even the darkness is not dark to you;
   the night is bright as the day,
   for darkness is as light with you.”

 

Praise God! “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).

Leanna Tankersley, On Being, P.154 – 155

“Who has the capacity to sit compassionately with herself, over and over again, when all she wants to do is condemn? Who, among us, has the Love within to forgive herself again and again? Who can open their hurting heart that has clamped shut yet again? Who could let God in once again, even though our faith has not protected us from disappointment, maybe even devastation, maybe even disaster? When we’ve been burned by people who said they believed too? Who could have the resilience and resolve to go on believing when faith hasn’t seemed to produce much of anything? Or so it feels today.

I’ll tell you who: none of us […] we will never—not one of us—be able to muscle our way through it.

God, in his grace, shows us the door, and Love, only LOVE, invites us through. We bring that wounded, wide-eyed part of ourselves to him—the one we’re constantly tempted to appease. We do this over and over and over again. And then, the truth is, there’s really not that much to do. We bring him our burden and he gives us rest.”

 

Perfume Sweet

When I was a preteen and teen, I knew the power of lament. Of casting and pouring, and breathing in the Word. And yet, it’s then, much like Hannah at first was at the Temple, I was met with accusing tongues and stern disapproval. I was turned away in my pain and grief. I was told there was something wrong with me. And yet, I was worshipping God from the depths of my soul through the injustice I saw before me.

Rather than believe my God, I agreed with the lies and fled who God had made me to be. Then one day, He overwhelmed me in His palpable peace, when my Mum was given just 3 months to live. No words brought me home. Just the Spirit of God speaking through His presence. He had come to lift the weight of a burden that was never mine to carry.

Words of death can go much deeper than we think. It has been almost 5 years since I gave my heart back to God. But God is still patiently and lovingly breaking me free from the pain and shame of my past. He is lifting the weight of each and every single lie spoken over me.

As I ran in the forest, seeking His face, the tears streamed as I heard Him remind me yet again that it breaks His heart. That it hurts Him, when I turn away ashamed, believing the injustice done is my weight to carry, my punishment. When I believe my weakness is ugly to Him and wrong. When in fact my laments and my cries for truth to be unveiled, for restoration, healing and unity in His Body, are and have always been, beautiful to Him. For they are His perfume sweet.

It is there, in and through my lamenting, I am being conformed (sýnmorphḗ – https://biblehub.com/greek/4862.htm and https://biblehub.com/greek/3444.htm):

4862 sýn (a primitive preposition, having no known etymology) – properly, identified with, joined close-together in tight identification; with (= closely identified together).

3444 morphḗ – properly, form (outward expression) that embodies essential(inner) substance so that the form is in complete harmony with the inner essence.

to His image.

 

If you too are struggling beneath a weight you know that is not yours to carry, I pray that my poem and this song will bless you. I pray that as you pour out your own lament, you will deep down know He is joining you unto Himself. For He is the God who sees us, knows us and weeps for and with us. May He release His perfume sweet in and through each one of us:

Perfume Sweet, A Spoken Word