Sunday, March 7, 2010

Broken Hallelujah


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Do you know Mandisa? She was one of the top twelve on American Idol a few seasons back and a friend gave me her CD last year. Her song "Broken Hallelujah" is one of my favorites. The chorus says

"When all that I can sing
is a broken hallelujah
When my only offering
is shattered praise
Still a song of adoration
Will rise up from these ruins
I will worship You and give you thanks
Even when my only praise
Is a broken hallelujah"

That describes how I feel most days. It describes how I feel today when it's my daughters birthday and she's not here to blow out six candles.

I'll be honest, sometimes, depending on the person and what frame of mind I'm in, I can get frustrated when people say,
"But she's celebrating with the King. We'll see her again." I feel like Sally Field on Steal Magnolias when she's standing with her friends after her daughters funeral. Please tell me you've seen that movie! It's on my list of favorites. I KNOW she is celebrating in heaven but some days the church answer is just not what I want to hear and it doesn't bring comfort for the here and now when I want to hold her.

Days like today are hard, but God has done so much in my heart the past two years and I know and trust He will carry us through another birthday.

I went on a Women's Retreat about a month ago and it was amazing. Our speaker was Nancy Guthrie (google her if you don't know her story) and literally everything she said impacted me. One of her statements is something God has been showing me the past few months as I deal with my expectations of Him. I can't remember if I've shared this before on here but I know I've told several friends. Long before Alaina died, deep down, I always wanted God to make my life easy. It was easy to follow and trust Him when life was "good." Since Alaina died, so often, I expect Him to give us an easy life since we've suffered in such big ways. Just don't allow anything else really hard and I think we'll be ok.

Here is what Nancy said "When you look at the cross, you can no longer RESENT that He hasn't made your life comfortable."

"His purpose is to purify and empower us to place ALL our hope in His promises of the age to come."

"Stop grasping for what is temporary. Adjust your expectations for God to(always) come through with what is physical." Think about that for a minute. What are the primary things we pray for in a room full of people....physical needs, sick people.
But what about our deadly sin disease? Nancy shared that the bigger purpose of Jesus healing ministry was to draw others into a deeper understanding of their SPIRITUAL need. He intends to heal our deadliest disease, our sin sickness. He began to heal us at the cross and He will bring it to completion at the Resurrection.

"What we need most is to be filled with a deep confidence in the character of our Father."

The truth is, I want a deep relationship with God but I don't want to go through hard things to get there. But I don't think you can separate the two.

Jesus speaks through his word that "I will be enough for you in the pain I do not take away." That is by far the biggest promise I've had to rest in. "Jesus responds by always giving us more of Himself, not necessarily escape from the pain."

"Christ's power moves in and makes us joyful in the midst of our pain."

Ultimately, "God has said "YES" to our(Hope Atchison's) deepest need in Christ Jesus." My deepest need is not to have an easy christian life, there is no such thing. My deepest need has been taken care of at the cross.

All of this doesn't make me miss her any less, but these truths give me hope for the life ahead of me. It raises my perspective to eternal vs. temporal. I so often focus on the temporary. Hope- "An expectation of good above what we can currently see."

"There is something infinitely more important to Him than protecting me from physical harm(or giving me an easy life, free from suffering). He understands the big picture. It's my soul that He's concerned about."

"We go to God's word to see what He says about Himself, not about what we want Him to be."

We were challenged to ask God for eyes of faith to grab hold of his promises, cherish them, and live in light of them.

I'm sure you've seen the book "Your Best Life Now." This will never be our best life. Nancy reminded us that our BEST life is reserved for heaven and this life will never measure up. Here and now, we have ONLY tastes and glimpses of our best life....Lord, help me to live as a pilgrim here.

So much of the way we think about and view God is just bad theology. It's a radical way of thinking to consider, as Paul Tripp says, that God allowing REALLY hard and painful circumstances into our lives is still His grace....a deeper shade of grace because of the things he does in our lives THROUGH the pain. I won't ever understand it completely or even like it, but I will accept it by faith, and trust him.

There have been so many tears, questions, emotions, fears, but I can clearly see the ways he has used everything to call me to something deeper, given me fresh perspective, caused me to trust him, helped me to be honest about my thoughts, given me deeper relationships, held my marriage together, helped me to not lose it when my children make huge messes(like emptying an entire container of Vaseline in the bathtub) and on and on and on. "Sometimes he glorifies himself by delivering us FROM the weakness and sometimes he glorifies himself by delivering us THROUGH the weakness."

I'm simply thankful today for a God who has patiently loved me through this pain, cared for me despite my unbelief and fear, continues to draw me, and has given EXTRA, deeper grace for every single step. I'm beyond thankful for the finished work on the cross and his promise to complete the work he started in me until the day of Christ Jesus. I will never be the same because he has been( has HAD to be) so big in my life!

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