Posts Categorized: devotional

Black Hole of Sorrow

Light in the Black Hole of Sorrow

Turning My Page

Today is a black hole.
 
It sucks out all good and feeds off my brokenness. No light gets near my sorrow without getting sucked into the density of problems and crushed.
 
And God has most certainly been sending light. My prayer group prayed for me and lifted my soul. A stranger plopped down a sign on a coffee shop table near me that said, “NEED PRAYER?” and took the time to listen and pray for my family. Others encouraged there’s purpose in your children’s suffering. Hold on.
Scripture encouraged. I read Acts 8-10, where Saul was blinded by the light of Christ, and his whole world turned upside down as he is chosen to go from persecuting Christians to preaching the good news to the Gentiles. When persecution seemed to be taking hold of the church, God stopped it in its tracks so that the church could take root and grow.
My black hole is the illusion of control. I’m not in control of the outcome for my children. God has chosen a hard path for them both, but when I wallow in the fact that I can’t remove their pain, I miss out on the comfort and understanding they give to their classmates and friends who also struggle. I miss out on their laughter, and I miss out on my own comfort.
I see in acts that God did not choose an easy path for the early believers either, yet they were joyous as they were beaten and cried out for forgiveness for their persecutors. What they set in front of them mattered. What I set before me matters. I can look at the waves (troubles), or I can look at Jesus. I choose Jesus. His light cannot be swollowed by the darkness.

Turning Your Page

 
Do you have days where from the moment you wake up (assuming that you slept at all), you feel like a black hole has swallowed all hope through Christ? It can’t reach you. You can’t hear it, no matter how loud others shout, “DON’T GIVE UP!” In those moments, be still, and know. God created the universe. He created you. Though you can’t see the light. It does exist. Jesus had a moment, too, where the black hole of the grave was sucking him in, and he could no longer see the light of his heavenly father.  

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:45-46 KJV)

In crying out that his task on earth was done, he opened the door to the light. A joy that overwhelms the darkness. Stand firm in the darkness, not because you come to see God in your moment of desperation, but because Christ died so that you and I will never be sepperated from God. Know that truth forward and backward. He is faithful to see you through your darkest hour, even if death looks like it may have the final victory.

Lord, I know that the darkness does not have the final say in my life. When my desire to control the outcome of my life blinds me, remove the scales that see you, that I may that you are Christ, and there is no other way! Amen

If Truth is What I Make It

Muddled religious platitudes
leave me questioning existence and further
hush the echoes of truth. Hypocrites!

“God bless”ripped of its earth-quaking power
by unrepentant ministers who curse children with trauma
huddled naked under their self-righteous protection. Why would I want that?

Savior? What a laughable insult. I am god of my fate.
I am independent. A pull-yourself-up by-the-bootstraps kinda
person. Connect to god any way I choose. Or none at all.

I can stoke the flame of my passion with a flip of a channel.
Obstacle or object, I can abuse or manipulate people like pawns. Bend
them to the will of my mood.

The world is crammed with little wack-a-mole idols
popping up with flashy egos. “Look at me!” And I look.
Devoid of humility. Empty of truth. These are the ravenous monsters I sacrifice to?

Forgive and forget or take revenge are one and the same when I am god. Distilled of life-giving
obedience i forget to trace God’s instilled image in you.
To forgive and remember. Now there is the coup ‘d’ etat.

Sin, the abyss of separation from God. Sin, I once recognized and crumbled
to my knees in repentance. Sin is now bridged by
religious arrogance and social norms. “You do you.”

And in the end, when soul is spent, I ask. What is really different between Saint and sinner
if truth is what I make it?

A God Who Sees Me

Develop in me an eternal perspective.
I know you see me.  Let me see you.

Like Hagar, my sorrow is not hidden
from you. I feel abandoned. You are in the desert of my loneliness.

Like drops of water, like manna, you feed my soul with
your presence. You satisfy me.

Jesus was not a victim of sin.
I am not a victim of infliction!

Helping others—my balm.
Opening my heart to infinite possibilities keeps me

Pressing through the gaps in my filmy understanding.
Pain is but a speck on my timeline, and I
Expect good things from a God who sees me.

Squeezing Life Out of Empty Vats

And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.”

2 Kings 4:2, ESV

Turning My Page

“It just keeps coming.” I giggled as I squeezed another serving of toothpaste two weeks after the tube was flat and looked as if it was empty. “Keep it coming, Lord.”

I wonder if the widow giggled joyously as she kept filling jars of oil. Life dealt her some harsh blows. Her husband was dead, debts piled up, and creditors were coming to take her two sons to sell into slavery to cover her debts. No one was stepping in to hep.

The widow must have felt desperate. I’ve been in that place where my only choice was to cry out to God. Have you? As I read the scripture I am surprised, no one stepped in to help. Did she have no kinsman reedemer like Ruth? Care for the widows and orphans (fatherless children) was of the utmost importance in Mosaic Law. God himself is called Father to the fatherless.  Her question did not catch Elisha by surprise. His response was simple: How can I help and what do you already have? The widow must have asked others before reaching out to Elisha. Did no one else have pity on her and her sons?

There have been times in my life that God alone has helped me. I have no other human explanation for the provision. But I did have to ask, just as the widow did. What if she never sought Elisha out? I am humbled by her boldness and fortitude. She knew her worth and yet called herself a servant of Elisha. I’ve seen others approach God in the same way. The Centurian on behalf of his servant, the woman with the issue of blood, the possessed man among the graves. As soon as they saw Jesus, they cried out, and Jesus answered.

I want to approach God like the widow! To know that I am priceless and dust at the same time.

God multiplied what the widow had in supply, oil until every last cent she owed was paid off! I bet she and her sons were doing the Happy Dance.

Currently, I have friends in abundance, joys in writing, a roof over my head, and sustenance. If I need anything, I can ask. I am grateful for each of these, but sometimes God gifts reminders that my ultimate provision is him.

While toothpaste is not a dire situation like it was for the widow, it brought delight to me each morning and evening. One, it is God’s sense of humor on full display, and two, he is reminding me that when I think life is empty that he still has so much more for me. Keep filling my life with your goodness Lord!

 

Turning Your Page

God has infinite abundance for you. Remaining open to this truth when everything in your life is empty, disaster seems to threaten you at every turn, and God feels distant and quiet. can daunt the sturdiest believer in Christ. It has rattled Old Testament and New Testament followers of Yahweh throughout droughts of obedience. Have you cried out, Consider your servant, Lord?” Consider, means, to take into account.

God has always been aware of your needs, are you aware of your need for him? Sometimes he allows all other avenues of help to dry up so that we know that he alone has the answers we seek. Like the widow:

  • Serve humbly
  • Cry out
  • Know that God will provide
  • Obey his directions

The widow didn’t hold some super religious card that receives a divine answer from God. All who believe in him can cry out and receive an answer, pressed down and running over (Luke 6).

 

Lord, you are my kinsman redeemer. Fill my vats to overflowing so that others may see our most desperate needs are filled by you. Amen

I’m Not the Vine: Learning to Abide

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

John 15:5-6, ESV

Turning My Page

 

Sometimes we start again in a new way.

My depression is often rooted in thinking God is not enough for everyone I care about. My daughter, in particular, is suffering deeply. I can’t stand suffering, so I scramble to find answers, overthink, and stretch myself to the point of breaking to fill in all the perceived gaps God leaves incomplete to my satisfaction.

In addition, I am acutely aware of my friends and family who are deeply hurting, and I want to relieve their suffering too. I need to be there for others. And the list of reasons I don’t measure up to the lofty expectations I have for myself is endless.

As long as I can remember, I have tried to fix things for everyone and be god to broken-winged animals and people, and on the surface, those are noble desires. God created me with great compassion for the downtrodden and brokenhearted, but part of my New Year’s message from God this year was: “You are not me.”

In reality, there is only one thing I need to do. Love Jesus.

I am grafted into Jesus. It’s not my job to fix the messed up world, not even my own, and God continues to work with me this year to trust him in all areas of my life, including the care for my family. When I attempt to usurp God’s plan, even in allowing brokenness, I run over his spectacular redemption. I forget that it was in brokenness that he redeemed me.

As I read scripture I see that his ways aren’t mine. My plan would not have allowed Jesus to die on the cross for the sins of the world.

I laid some things on the altar on New Year’s Day, and I confess that lately, I have picked them back up. I praise God for the humbling he has done in the past few weeks. I CAN wait to see what God has in store for my daughter, friends, and family. He asked me to pray that his will is done in the lives I care about. No more attempts to fix or correct. Trust. Trust Him.

 

Turning Your Page

What is in your hands at this very moment? Are you gripping people, places, purposes, or a job so tightly that God has to work around you? Make no mistake, His will be done on earth as in heaven. You can either be a fruitful grapevine or a useless branch, but either way. Jesus is the vine.

Our job is to abide in him.

  • Pray that God shows you areas in your life where you are trying to be the vine.
  • Look up the definition of abide and put the definition into your own words.
  • Read the story of Joseph in the Old Testament (Genesis 37-50).
    • What was Joseph’s plan for his life as a teenager?
    • What was God’s?
    • How did Joseph come to realize that God’s plan was the best route, even though it wound through attempted murder, slavery, and prison?

 

Lord, your ways aren’t mine, and I don’t want them to be. Do exceedingly, abundantly, beyond my limited thinking. Wow me! Amen

Surrender to Goodness

Some of us push against your goodness
Undeserving. Wretches, Self-Stamped Rejects.
Then we spin our tale, convincing everyone
around us of our version of truth. But I couldn’t
ever burn, cut, or tear your imprint
out of me. I was and am grafted into your image.

And when remembered, it’s easy to
surrender to your goodness.

A Griever’s Wish List

Sit here. In quiet
uncertainty, just be
present. Hold
me with your tears. Know my
pain when you don’t have to.
Listen. I’m not alone.
Your heartbeat, your inhale and
exhale, remind me that I can bear
this weight of losing. Sit here.

It’s enough.

Roses of Hope Beyond Your Grave

 But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51 The MSG, Biblegateway)

My son’s birthday and Mother’s Day are irrevocably intertwined. He is my firstborn. The one who taught me both the joys and sorrows of motherhood. I am very intentional about May. I don’t want to forget that as much as eight birthdays without Jonathan hurts, the joy of living these almost nine years with Christ shows me hope is not diminished by the grave.

Turning My Page

Your birthday and motherhood are intertwined
like a wild rose around my heart.
The barrier of death pricks to marrow. Yet, the
sweet fragrance of Hope, salve to my sorrow,
grows tangible beyond the thorns of your grave.

 

Turning Your Page

Think of a moment when something you hoped for became a reality. Did you know for sure that it would happen?

Hope is tangible, and the more we grow to know the character of God and his son, the stronger and sweeter the fragrance of hope. In Christ, hope is never fickle, no matter how many thorns we experience to the contrary.

  • List as many moments where hope was realized as you can. Look at the qualities of your hope. What made you confident that the thing you hoped for would happen?
  • Look up a few attributes of God. How does each characteristic make hope in Jesus more concrete?

Lord, I don’t always see the roses growing among the thorns of my circumstances. Teach me to recognize your ways so that I can see beyond this temporary life. Amen

The Mystery of Hope

I cradled hope like a fragile fledgling.
It shivered—tender
warmth against the concrete cold of
my anguish.

Hope is a wild, open-palmed expectation. Because
You are good, it will fly.

 

Immanuel Came

You didn’t hold Christmas back from my troubles.
You slipped into my dirty world on a crowded
night of cares, with a star and angels as a birth
announcement.

Chubby fingers curled around my broken
heart before I knew I needed you. The earthy
the fragrance of shepherds, a stable, a carpenter,
and a young girl seems an unexpected
entrance for a king.
You lifted my tear-stained cheeks to
take in the wonder of Your presence.

My soul, crushed by a million fears,
found joy and peace in a tiny dependent baby—
God dependent upon a woman, the words
twist in my mouth as sacrilege. Yet you
upended my every flesh-tainted notion
of your holiness.

God with me, so that
I know that I know my sorrow
is not in vain.

A tangible God, for a flesh and bones sinner,
nestled in strips of cloth. I can hardly take
the majesty of your complete love.

Suicide & Prevention Hotline

National Suicide Hotline

If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call the National Suicide Lifeline at 988 or go to the website at https://988lifeline.org/