Posts Tagged ‘hope’

The Voice of Despair

I have been thinking about something in a sermon that I preached quite awhile ago that I remembered recently.  Something I need to hear and be reminded of right now.  From my sermon on 1 Samuel 27 (if you want to see the Scriptural context), I made this bit of application <in italics below> in one of the main points:  

      The voice of despair speaks into our lives, as well.  If you think about it, you will realize that we are always speaking to ourselves.  We have conversations with ourselves about our lives.   I’m not talking about hearing voices, nor am I trying to psychoanalyze here.  I’m talking about the inner monologue or even dialogue (if we get to arguing with ourselves) that takes place in our heart.    One commentator said that “all of us propagandize our souls”.   And if the propaganda is something other than the truth of God’s Word, His Character, His Sufficiency, His Promise, then we are in trouble and might begin to look to Philistia for our salvation, than to the Lord.   

    Who would you say is David’s greatest enemy?  The easy answer is Saul.   And certainly Saul has been a great enemy of David.  But the reality is that David is his own worst enemy at this very point.   And we are our own worst enemies.   We too look for heavenly comfort from earthly sources.  We buy into the idea, telling ourselves this lie, that “if only” I had or I was  __________, then everything would be okay.   And those lies then shape our decisions and the direction of our lives.    David is the fainting king.  And we’re just like him – not kings mind you – but full of fainting, faltering faith.

What does the voice of despair say to you?  What do you say to yourself in dark moments?  Where are you tempted to run instead of the Lord?  And what does God say to you, about you and about your circumstances?  My guess is that they are quite different, if we actually get around to seeing what God’s Word has to say to us.  I know that that is my need. I need a different voice in my head and you probably do to.

Clean Up on Aisle Life

Life is messy.

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I wish it not were not so.  In fact, I’ve gotten pretty good at avoiding messes.  Which is foolish, because you can attempt to avoid or plan your way around them, but things have a way of getting spilt all over the table of your life.  This is what happens when we sin and others sin and we live in a world full of fellow sinners.  And it is what happens in a world wrecked by sin.  We get tornadoes and cancer and death.    

 

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 And I hate tornados and cancer and death (among other things).  They leave messes behind.  Messes that can’t be quickly mopped up with the “quicker picker upper” or whatever the best brand of paper towels happens to be right now.  It takes time and help and hope to deal with such things.

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But in the mess we also find Jesus.  Right there in the middle of it all.  Picking up debris and sitting in an infusion center or holding your very heart when you feel it might break into a thousand little pieces.  Jesus is there.  In the mess. With you.  

And He promises that one day there will be no mess (Revelation 21).  For now, cast all your “messes” or anxieties upon Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7, also Philippians 4:4-7).  Messes, yes. But Jesus too.
 

This Moment is Real, but it is not the Only Reality

Like my dinner that ended up on the living room floor – a side effect of the constipation, which is a side effect of the nausea meds, that are used to control the nausea, which is a side effect of the chemotherapy, of course – I feel the need to work through some of my emotions and thoughts.  You have been warned.  It has not been pretty the past few days.

Days that end in Y are hard, much of the time.  The Monday after a chemotherapy are the hardest.   Here’s why:  I’m ready to feel better and return to some activity at home and in the office.  And Lydia is ready to be done with being a single parent (for all practical purposes).  And yet, the transition is stilted and fraught with landmines – physical and emotional.  In that way, that Monday can be very hard for all involved.

Tonight through tears, I cried out to God.  I told Him I was mad, but that I needed Him to meet me there.  It’s the first time that I have been able to express that emotion in prayer.  I don’t tend towards outward anger, in general.  I am much more prone to depression, which I remember somebody calling “anger toward inward.”  I suppose this is progress through the emotional side of this suffering.  I think I have a long ways to go.

I hate that my children have to come to me with their small, sweet voices to ask if I am okay, if they see me writhing in pain, or after I have lost the contents of my stomach.

I hate what this is doing to my wife, who has been a rock, but can only withstand so much.  Our marriage is as strong as ever, but this tests our endurance and patience, as we suffer together

Speaking of patience, I hate that I have so little when my children are just being children.  Never a strong suit before this, but a real test.

I hate that I can’t be the pastor I want to be, though my congregation and fellow elders make no demands on me, other than to focus on my health as needed.

I wonder what they will remember about this time in their childhood.  I hope and pray that it is moments of joy, punctuated with moments of pain.  But not pain without a purpose.  May it increase their faith and understanding of need for the Lord.  I’m not sure I could stand otherwise.

I wrenched my knee, which remains painful, but I think is getting better (I hope).  I hate that it’s an added physical impediment, but I have never regretted being a dad to my son, chasing and playing tag on a scooter.  I’d do it again for the moment of joy with him, in the midst of so many joyless days.

This last cycle I lost the mental battle.  I am learning how much of this is mental, even when the physical side is the most visible.  I went into the last chemo cycle already defeated.  I can’t be sure, but I am fairly certain that that had an impact on my experience this past weekend.  I am trying to figure out how I can keep a positive spirit and attitude, but not make it about my will and ego.  I need to be strengthened by God, not self.  And yet, I am entirely sure what that looks like.  I’ve lost my way a bit in this regard.

I don’t want your sympathy (and yet, I am thankful for it) and I wish I didn’t need your prayers.  Though I do want and need them.   I’m also bad at taking advice and being cared for.  I’m just not good at it.  Typical man, I suppose.

One of my biggest laments is that I cannot go (or should not, for fear of infection with a diminished immune system) to the hospital.  Last week, during chemo, someone connected to our church was in the hospital, and I couldn’t go.

I’m tired of vomiting.  I think my esophagus may agree.

Last night, one of our children had a meltdown.  The end of the school year is always hard.  The end of  the school year when you dad has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing chemo – well, that’s a different kind of hard.  One of the thing that I told this child, I realized I needed to hear too.  We talked about how our emotions (whether good or bad) in a moment  are real – very real.  But they are not the only true reality.  This moment is real, but it is not the only reality.  This – this is what I need to fight for emotionally and mentally.  There will be an end to this.  There will be a return to health, Lord willing.  And we are still a family that is clinging to God and Who, more importantly, will not let us go.  This moment is real, but it is not the only reality.

Easter Prayer – 2013

Pastoral Prayer prayed on March 31st, 2013 (Easter) at North Hills Church  [Portion in italics is from The Worship Sourcebook]

Father, Let us live in the hope of the Resurrection of Christ and His complete and utter defeat of our enemies of sin, the evil One, and death.  Let us live in this hope despite the realities of our groaning and longing in this world.  Let us live in this hope when…

Our bodies groan, longing for restoration of health, a return to normal, or just the strength to carry on  another day.

When our hearts groan with a longing for loved ones lost, for reconciliation with a family member of friend, or to be free of fear and anxiety.

When our souls groan, longing for complete freedom from sin that indwells, that dogs our days & nights, and that draws us away from you, our Lord.

When we long to be renewed inwardly and outwardly.   When death seems to prevail, sin seems so powerful, and the Evil One so persuasive.

Renew our Resurrection hope this day, as we worship and reflect on the greater Reality – that Jesus Christ not only died for us, but truly Rose for us.  Renew our heart to know that Christ lives today, intercedes for us, and has completely defeated the Evil One.

And grant to us not just hope, but also gratitude.  That thanksgiving might well up in our hearts again and again, even as we await the completion of your work in us and in this world.

Thanksgiving that you would send your Son to live and die for us.

That you would settle our debt and forgive our transgressions.

That you would grant to us new life through faith in Your Son

That you would adopts us as sons & daughters

That you would give to us your Spirit, a guarantee of life to come and a guardian of life in you.

That you would give to us one another to show grace to one another, t0 encourage & edify, and to bear one  another’s burdens in times of need.

That you would use us as ambassadors and servants in this world.

That you would use North Hills Church to proclaim the excellencies of your mercy.

Living God, you have given us so much in Jesus Christ: hope, joy, and peace.
Above all, you have given us life!  What can we give in return?  If the whole world were ours, it would not be enough. What little we have we humbly offer to you. Thousand, thousand thanks are due, dearest Jesus, unto you.

Remind us that with you, life is never hopeless.  That disappointment, doubt, and despair are never final.  Remind us that though there are tears, there is day when you will wipe every tear from our eyes.  A place where sin, pain, and death have all been eradicated.  Remind us that it is our Risen & Returning Lord who takes us there.   This day, let hope reign and gratitude pour forth from our hearts and lips, regardless of the state we find ourselves in.   In you, we live and move and have our being.  And to you we pray.  In the name of Your Son, Our Savior, Jesus, the One who Rose, Amen

Banner of Hope

I am not inclined to tell you, dear reader, what to do, as I am uncertain of our relationship.  That said, I would highly recommend that you read this story (for more read here).  I love when we see echoes of the Kingdom of God through sports, though it was really through the selfless acts of a school, their football team, and their fans.  If you are friend…read it now!