Lingamish has a very deep and moving CyberPsalm today–a prayer for hurting and broken and struggling missionaries.
His commentary at Lingalinga and the dialogue that follows is also good. Lingamish shares a prayer request for a spiritual retreat for missionaries going on, Peter Kirk gives some thoughts on a bigger perspective (which reminded me of 2 Corinthians 4:10), and Lingamish makes the following statement about a worship rehearsal in preparation for the retreat:
“you can just sense that people are here to focus on God in whatever state they are in”
And that, I think, hits at the core of delighting the Lord and bringing Him glory, even when our lives outwardly seem to be a mess.
I have to remind myself of that often. Crying through the brokenness and the doubt, I see that the brokenness and doubt are not measuring sticks of spirituality. They are not watershed issues which prove/disprove either my trust or the faithfulness of God. The brokenness and doubt don’t prove anything, in and of themselves. I believe what is important is the direction that my heart continues in, whatever my context–ease and smooth sailing or pain and brokenness that doesn’t seem to go away.
Here are ways I see people, full of questions and doubts and pain, choosing to keep their faces and hearts turned towards God:
- Clinging to Him, like Habakkuk, no matter what fearful things seem sure to come.
- Reflecting His glorious light through weakness, as Paul affirms in 2 Corinthians 4:7.
- Pleading with Him, praising Him, falling at His feet, desperate for mercy.
- Trusting His ways, when His ways seem incomprehensible as they watch their baby start to recover from croup and find that he has suffered brain damage
- Clinging to Him when the loneliness doesn’t let up and God’s sufficiency doesn’t seem to make much practical difference
- Choosing to focus on God even when great injustice has hit close to home and home is many miles away
My heart weeps for each of these friends. And for many others whose stories are too personal or too heavy to even hint at here. As I weep, I catch glimpses of how sacrificially and beautifully they live out the price of obedience, and bear the fruit of costly trust. I see how their hurts display the faithfulness of God in ways that none of us would expect (we want His faithfulness to mean everything gets better. My friends’ lives show how God’s faithfulness is so much more complex and complete than that.) These friends make up my great cloud of witnesses. They are part of my living Hebrews 11 supplement.
“My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds ‘Lord, I am coming.’ ” (Psalm 27:8, NLT)
Even as I ache for some of my friends who are attending the retreat, I am so glad that as Lingamish said, they have come “to focus on God, whatever state they are in.” And that makes me rejoice for them even while I hurt for them. Today I see God delighting in a small part of His body, coming together with so many hurts, weaknesses, aches and suffering, choosing to be together and choosing to focus on Him. Choosing to trust and choosing to cling to Him.
With them, today, I choose again to answer the Lord’s invitation to talk with Him, as David did in Psalm 27, not leaving one part of my brokenness and pain behind. God doesn’t chop me up into the parts of me that He wants to meet with and the parts that He doesn’t. Thankfully!