11 August 2009

holding on to hope

A few weeks ago we were at our family reunion and as we formed a line on each side of the food tables I made a comment to my cousin, standing on the other side, that the baked apples looked delicious. She said, hey, those are mom's, dish some up for me. Just over a week later she lost her battle with cancer, an on again-off again battle that she endured for nearly twenty years.

Then my attention was turned to a friend's daughter many of us know here in river city. Twenty-six and two young children at home; her future is uncertain. Holding on, just like her family is holding onto hope.

Seldom have I found myself in the position where all I had to hold onto was hope. Those times were wrenching, numbing, and filled with bouts of anger and feelings of abandonment. I can't imagine though, it being my child that I was holding onto hope for. What do we do? Someone commented "let's hope our prayers will work, our tears don't seem to be".
We were not guaranteed easy lives. We weren't guaranteed a life without trials and tears. We were promised, though, that God would never leave or forsake us, nor give us trials we are unable to bear. The key is to hold on.....but in that understand that God already holds us in the palm of His hand. The tears, I believe, He feels and experienced the loss we pray we never do when God sent His Son to make atonement for us.

My heart breaks for my aunt and cousin's children. Updates from my friend convey exhaustion from the holding......and how could one not be exhausted?

In that time of holding on, to faith and hope, the most reassuring feeling is to sense the presence of our Father....to find peace and rest in Him. This is where we must step in, to offer the words that heal and encourage, to let them know that we are standing with them, when they've lost the strength to hold on.

But, I'm wondering if maybe we miss something in not experiencing complete brokenness and trust in God. Is there something beautiful in experiencing that total reliance, where all we have to fall onto is hope? I pray I never experience such tragedy, but at the same time....I pray for a brokenness daily in my life that brings with it the holy presence in which I can find healing and strength. Who prays for brokenness these days? Man, that the church would pray for such brokenness.
I began reading Job this morning and was faced with this verse we often quote "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (1:21). And as Job's wife encouraged him to curse God and die, just before his three friends showed up, Job said "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" (2:10). Yet Job didn't turn away from God. He continued to hold on, despite being more fully broken than any man I have known. Accept adversity? Adversity by its nature breaks us.....to be made stronger. But, God, I don't want adversity....just give me strength, right?

This amazing song by Lifehouse called "Broken" has some of the most heart-piercing, comforting lyrics I have heard in some time. Listen along carefully....maybe you can relate with these lyrics.

Prayers go out for all those who find themselves barely holding on.

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