LENTEN CONNECTIONS: Lenten Troubles

1 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts

and every day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.

Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;

4 my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”

and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love;

my heart rejoices in your salvation.

6 I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.

Psalm 13

 

“In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

(Jesus, in John 16:33)

 

All of us have had days when we felt like the first few verses in Psalm 13.  How long, O Lord?  Trouble and sorrow threaten to overcome us, and it’s all we can do to cope.  Recently, two crises came to a head in our family–two pretty major ones in one week!  Two family members–one young and one old–have each made some bad decisions and behaved badly, and the consequences affect many people besides themselves.  (Just so you know–no one died and my husband didn’t leave me! :))  I had no choice but to lean on my God, His Word, and my friends in order to get through the week and the ongoing situation.  It is so good to know that He is there, that He knows all about my life, my family, and our problems, that He will bring us through them, and He can even bring good out of them-someday, though we may not see it for a long time, if at all.

I’m sure each reader can relate, and have had times of crisis in your life-times when you had to lean on God and His Word, and the friends He sent your way to encourage you.

That week, many friends sent Scripture to me and it was very encouraging.  There are many Scripture passages to lean on in tough times.  The Psalms, especially, contain a lot of comfort and encouragement for those who hurt; David wrote many of the Psalms out of his pain, trouble, and sorrow-some of which he even brought on himself.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  (Psalm 34:18)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.  (Psalm 91:1-2)

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O Lord, supported me.  When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. (Psalm 94:18-19)

My friends reminded me that week, through their comments and Scripture, that God loves me and my family–that God loves all of us despite the mistakes and poor decisions we make–and that we all can be so thankful for that!

They reminded me that He knows all about our hard times, that He is faithful, and that He can make something good out of the most dismal situation.  Most of these friends spoke to me out of experience with disappointment, pain, suffering, sorrow or grief.  They reminded me that when we have tough times, we can pray that our pain in life would not be wasted, and that we would allow God to use it for His good and for His kingdom purposes.

My friends reminded me that God promises hope and a future for us, and that He can make a “new thing” out of some unpleasant thing in our past.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”(Jeremiah 29:11)   Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.  (Isaiah 43:19-20)

My friends reminded me to Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts (Col. 3:15) and Philippians 4:6,7 reminds me: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Lastly, friends reminded me that God, who is mighty and powerful and yet incredibly gentle and kind, can use this set of circumstances for good in the lives of all concerned and to bring glory to Himself, and that God can do way more than we can ask or imagine: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us … (Ephesians 3:20).

Life will never be perfect or easy this side of heaven.  But I am so glad that God loves us, that He is trustworthy, and that He is faithful to see us through.  God knows all about this season of “trouble,” that “just happens” to fall during Lent and remind me of the sin and brokenness that plagues us all.   I will pray, I will trust, and He will see us through.  I will take heart!  By His death and resurrection, Jesus has overcome the world–my troubles and your troubles.  And, by His grace and the musical inclination he gave me, I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me! (Psalm 13:6)

“In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  (Jesus, in John 16:33)

Prayer:  God, you know about every part of my life this week of Lent.  You know the good things, you know the sin in my life, you know the heartache I carry.  Help me to recognize and deal with my own sin and trouble, with your help, and help me to trust you with the people and circumstances I can do nothing about.  Thank you for bearing my troubles, and for sending others alongside me to encourage and help me.  I will take heart and sing because You are good.  In the name of Jesus, who has overcome sin by his death and resurrection, Amen.

Contributed by Sharon Anderson

 

Photo:  License AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by caruba

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