Wednesday, October 8, 2008

greater than troubles

I think it was the first CD of Sara Groves' that I owned myself that came with a bonus feature of someone interviewing her. My sister (in-law), Katie, introduced me to Sara's music several years ago, for which I am so grateful for. So, in this interview she was responding to questions about and explaining the inspiration for the songs on that particular CD, The Other Side of Something. I think this one came out when Elijah was around one or so, so 2003ish. Anyway, something she spoke about in the interview really struck a chord within me, and does to this day.

Sara was speaking about the song What I Thought I Wanted, and explained that it came from a conversation she had with a mentor of hers.
I keep wanting you to be fair
But that’s not what you said
I want certain answers to these prayers
But that’s not what you said
She commented to her friend once that if she lost her son, she wasn't sure if she'd be able to handle it and look at God in the same way. Her friend's reply was "if God would not still be the God of your life in that situation, maybe he's not the God in your life now." Wait a minute. I had to really think about that one. A fear of mine, at that time when I just had Elijah, and still today with all three littles, is that I will lose them to death. I have to take captive thoughts about this, or they take control over me.

I heard about a local little girl who died at only four years old from a non-cancerous tumor on the brainstem. Her memorial service was held on Elijah's birthday last year. I know because one of Elijah's little friends couldn't come to his party because she was attending her other little friend's memorial. I felt such grief for this family I never met. I looked for her Caring Bridge site and was blown away when I found it. Such grief, sadness and such gratefulness, joy and faith. The mother shared finding the sermons of Dr. Tim Keller (Redeemer Church in NYC) regarding hope. I jotted this name down, promising myself to look into it. That was probably about 9 months ago. I looked into it today, and I am so glad I did.

Toward the end of this sermon Dr. Keller quotes C.S. Lewis from A Grief Observed when he begins that "no one ever told me that grief felt so like fear." After Dad died, I found this to be so true. About at the sixth month point, my anxiety hit the roof and I knew, knew that something bad was about to happen. To my mom, or my husband, or one of my boys, or to the little one growing inside of me at that time. I feared and fretted. Six months after you lose someone, it is glaringly obvious that they are, in fact, gone. So add to the other fears the fear of realizing I had lost my dad and the "how do we possibly manage without him" thoughts that filled my mind. Oh, let's just say, I was a mess. So, after all this, and what I have seen, learned, heard, felt and sought out since, I still wonder - could I make it without one of my babies or my husband or my mom or my brother, or... or...

This still after I know that we have new mercies every morning, exactly what we need to get through each day, if we will receive them. And after knowing the hope of reunion. It's not over. It wasn't goodbye. But sometimes it feels like it was.

Dr. Keller's sermon on hope reminded me of what I already know in my heart. I must choose faith now. Before pain comes my way, and it will come my way. By choosing ahead of time to believe Him in all circumstances we can make it easier on ourselves when those hard times come. He used these scriptures:

We have small troubles for a while now, but they are helping us gain an eternal glory that is much greater than the troubles. 2 Corinthians 4:17

Crying may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5

So I rejoice and am glad. Even my body has hope, because you will not leave me in the grave. You will teach me how to live a holy life. Being with you will fill me with joy; at your right hand I will find pleasure forever. Psalm 16:9-11

Because I have lived right, I will see your face. When I wake up, I will see your likeness and be satisfied. Psalm 17:15
There are so many things I'd love to talk to my dad about: politics, parenting, getting along with people, making choices, the list goes on and on. I'd really love to talk with him about these scriptures. What would he say about the pain he endured, or leaving long before he would have chosen to? I want to hear what he'd say about the glory he is now a part of.

These words make a promise that, as Dr. Keller said, if we will "plant our tears," we will find a joy that changes us. He said that the kind of joy we really need is the product of tears. Avoiding the tears or dumping the tears or covering them up will not bring about change in us. If we take our pain and plant it, using it for good and allowing God to show us how, we will find true joy. He said we must put our tears in prayer to God for this to come about as we realize grace, have a vision of the cross and have assurance of the coming glory.

Keller also used the end of Psalm 39 as an example that God understands how we speak to him when we are hurt, when we are desparate:

I am like a visitor with you. Like my ancestors, I'm only here a short time. Leave me alone so I can be happy before I leave and am no more. Psalm 39:12-13
Jesus himself spoke to God this way on the cross. He felt forsaken. He accused his father of leaving him. God knows what this kind of hurt feels like. He wants us to trust him with our tears and our pain. Our fears and our worries. What an amazing promise that the troubles we have here, as bad as they may be, will not compare to the glory that awaits us. Glory awaits us. That's something to be hopeful for. And it's a hope that will not disappoint.


Gina said...

Beautiful and perfect. Thank you for honest writing. Love you!-g