August 14 Devotional

A few days ago, a friend of mine told me about a book she had read and found very thought provoking. I spent Friday morning reading NT Wright’s “God and the Pandemic.” Wright was challenging Christians in how we “think” about this pandemic, think about how we are thinking about it and responding to it. He also shared how faithful Christians in the first century handled their crisis and what we can learn from them. Here is the thing, we are not the first generation to live through hard times — our world’s history retells stories of plagues, economic crisis and civil unrest. Scripture tells us of how God’s people have faced it, and we are able to learn so much from them of what to do and what not to do.

I think we all can agree that what we all need right now is the voice of wisdom to speak — and one of the things wisdom conveys is the need of people to take the time to lament. Wright says, “In a time of crisis — when death sneaks into houses and shops, when you feel healthy yourself but may be carrying the virus, when every stranger on the street is a threat, when we go around in masks, when churches are shut, when people are dying with nobody to pray by their side — it is a time to lament.” Lamenting is expressing our sorrow and grief — over the loss of someone we love, loss of a way of life, loss of the sense of safety and security, loss of the ability to go out and feel comfortable and secure. We can lament many kinds of loss, and the scriptures guide us in lamenting. For the next few days, I invite you to join me as we spend time in some of the scriptures of lament.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens; a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

DAY ONE

“O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.” Psalm 43:3-5

Many are faced with decisions these days. Will I prepare to send my kids back to school, or will I enroll them in virtual learning? Will I go back into the office, or will I continue to work from home? Do I go on the trip I planned, or do I cancel? Do I go to see my family and friends, or do I stay home and continue to distance?

The thing about it is the consequences of our decisions matter, and it is hard to be sure which is the better/wiser answer. Today’s Psalm meets us in that place — needing God’s wisdom, his truth to lead us and guide us in the decisions we need to make. It is believed to be written by a temple assistant, and he is speaking of finding hope in a season of discouragement, navigating our way through hard times. He gives us three clues as to how to find our hope and hold on to it.

  • Be guided by truth: God’s Word reminds us of WHO HE IS. His love, mercy and grace; as well as his faithfulness. We need to be guided by all he has revealed.
  • Be ready to praise him: No matter what today brings, He is worthy of our praise. Reality is the act of praise can begin to change the heart of the most hopeless person.
  • Put hope in God: There is nothing we are facing that is too big for our God. He is right here with us. He will see us through this season of life; our job is to hold on and look up to the heavens because that is where our help comes… “Our help comes from the Lord! Rest well friends in His perfect peace.” (Be Thou My Vision)

 

DAY TWO

“Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5b

I remember the first time I heard this verse. I was watching one of my favorite shows, and the main character was in the midst of a speech that was being given in the face of tragedy and great suffering. The speaker shared the words of this Psalm, and ever since, it has been a favorite of mine.

Many of us have had seasons of life that truly were like the “night of weeping.” Days, months, even years that were filled with tears of sorrow and despair, feelings of fear and uncertainty, times that changed life as we know it. King David wrote these words, understanding them all too well. But he learned what we have learned, as well. Yes, there are nights of weeping, but nights do not last forever. Eventually the sun rises again, and with the rising of the sun there will be joy again. There will be rejoicing, and songs of praise flowing from your heart once more.

There is a wonderful old treasured wisdom that says simply “This too shall pass…”

So friends, hold onto the one who is unchanging, unshakable, unrelenting, and he will hold you up as the night gives way to the morning. Amen. (Sleepless night- Fernando)

 

DAY THREE

“The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for his is compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.'” Lamentations 3:22-24

Where is our strength? Where is our ray of shining hope in the midst of this LONG and difficult season? Our strength and hope lie in EXACTLY the same place as where the prophet Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, wrote in Lamentations. He understood grief and sorrow. He understood what it was like to stand by and watch life as he knew it change. For the people of his time, it would be over the fallen city. For us in our time, the sorrow and grief may be for different reasons, but we can know what Jeremiah knew.

No matter our circumstances—Because of His love we are not consumed. His compassions never fail; rather, they are new with each day. Great is his faithfulness! No matter what today brings, no matter what the news reports, no matter what we see, here is what we can know: God is working. He has not left us, nor will he ever.
The Lord is our portion; therefore we will wait for Him because Great is His Faithfulness.

(Great Is Thy Faithfulness)

 

DAY FOUR

“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
Lamentations 3:25-26

Do you wait well — patiently filled with assurance like someone absolutely trusting that what she is waiting on will come to be, because she knows in whom she places her trust and hope? Or do you wait filled with anxiety, filled with fear and uncertainty, not at all certain that what you are waiting on will come to be, not certain where to place trust and hope?

Many of us could say yes to both! Sometimes I can wait well, filled with peace, and sometimes I don’t wait well and am filled with anxiety.

The prophet Jeremiah says that “the Lord is good to those whose hope is in him. He is good to those who seek him…” Not because we get everything we want, but because we have him — his strength, guidance and love.

Filled with his strength, guidance and love, we can “wait quietly,” filled with peace and assurance that our God is with us, he is for us, he loves us. Because we know that down deep into our core, we can “wait quietly” for the salvation of the Lord.

(It is Well with my Soul)

 

DAY FIVE

“I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: ‘Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.’ You came near when I called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear.'” Lamentations 3:55-57

We call. He hears!

We cry out, He listens to our cries, but it is more than hearing, goes beyond listening. Our God comes near to us.

Consider this for a moment: The Great I am, El Shaddai, the Lord Almighty, El Olam, the Everlasting God has his glorious ear turned to us. He hears our cries, hears us as we call upon the name of the Lord.

It goes beyond listening. He draws close to us and says, “Do not fear.”

“Do not fear. I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and hold you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.” Isaiah 41:10

In these troubling times, we are free to lament– to cry out to our Great God — knowing when we call upon Him, even from the darkest, deepest pit. He hears you, and he draws closer to you. He whispers into your ear, softly, tenderly with strength and assurance, “Do not fear.”

Rev. Terri Henkel

 

Lincoln Brewster, “While I Wait”