Thursday, May 30, 2013

Whispers from a Broken Man

Life can suck sometimes. Lord knows I know it. I'm writing this today as a broken man who's faith is flickering within a downpour of pain and hurt which shows no signs of stopping. It's been a long six months and I think even the internet doesn't have enough space for me to run a recap.

But today, as I was praying for the faith of my future spouse, I went back and looked through an old prayer journal and searched for a specific trial I'd experienced. It had lasted from April until October. Six months. Six months of pain, hardship, ups and downs. Six months of brokenness.

Here's a couple excerpts:
The Beginning: April 8
Yesterday I realized that while I’m definitely afraid of what may happen regarding this situation, me being a disappointment to you is a pretty big concern of mine. Father, I don’t know what lesson I should be learning here and I don’t know if this is a punishment because I’ve been sinful in some area, but I really don’t want to disappoint you. It may sound silly but the thought almost brings me to tears. Knowing all that you’ve done and all of who you’ve been to me… I don’t want to spit in your face. I just hope you’re not disappointed with me. I asked for suffering so I’m not really tripping over what’s happening (well I am a little bit)... Father, you know the truth. I don’t want to be dramatic but you know the truth and you know how this is affecting me. I cry out your name… I am in need of your mercy Jesus… despite my pride and my shame… I’ve been humbled and fall on my face but oh how I need you. How badly I need you Lord God…    
I can remember how I was in shock for a few weeks. And then the hits kept coming, faster than I was able to process. I kept expecting God to move and for him to answer my prayers and... He wouldn't. Eventually, I crumbled to pieces. I kept wondering: How on earth is this going to help me love God more? I did nothing to earn this pain, why would I thank God for ending it?
The Lowest Low: October 3
For six months I’ve sought to try and I’ve tried to praise you despite the fact that you have ignored every one of my pleas for help. Where can I start? The list of grievances is so long. I’m struggling to believe that you do actually love me. I’m struggling to believe that you do actually care for me. It’s as if you want my faith to fail… it’s as if you don’t want me to be one of your followers. All you have to do is tell me if this is the case… I just don’t get why you would lead me into situations and then abandon me… I’ve cried out to you day and night and each time I’ve waited expectantly only to find that you’re nowhere to be found. At what point do I give up? At what point do I wake up and say; maybe you haven’t picked me after all… maybe it was all a game I was playing in my head… the house of cards of my faith is shattering beneath the silence.

Aces and jacks
Plummet, tumbling softly
As autumn breezes dislodge
Carefully constructed structures
Queens soon pursue kings,
Falling headlong into the blazing pile.

I had made my bed besides
Diamonds and spades
Only to watch gravity bully them,
Tying shoestrings together,
Stomping their hearts into the dirt,
Spraying graffiti on clubhouse walls.

Rest in peace,
My home: the intoxicated dance of a royal flush.
That was almost my last prayer. I remember having to drag myself back the next morning in repentance. I remember having to ask God for a desire to pursue Him. Yes, my theology had failed me. Here I was, a seminary student, who no longer believed that God was loving. And what made matters worse was my utter helplessness and complete inadequacy. I was broken...

But then, God ended what had seemed like an endless flood of trials. And I was floored.
The End: October 6
Praise be to the Lord,
For his mercy endureth forever.

Praise be the Yahweh,
The Lord of Hosts,
Angels and created beings
Stars and all the heavens,
Join in praise to the Only Living God

Praise be to the Lord
For his mercy endureth forever.
For he has showered me with grace
And mercy when I deserved it least,
In his lovingkindness, he extended his
Hand to me in the depth of my affliction.

Praise be the Lord of Hosts,
For the darkness cannot consume him.
No amount of evil,
Can overcome the depths of his love.

You did not wait for me to be faithful. No, you healed and saved me despite my sinfulness. You saved me in the depths of my sin and darkness. When I turned my back on you and when I doubted you… you came through… As always you come through. Such a burden has been lifted off of my back in this moment. I cannot express in words the sheer magnitude of your grace. I am befuddled and amazed. You are such a gracious and glorious God. Your mercy truly endureth forever… Your love truly extends throughout all generations. Glory to the Lord of hosts… for none can deny your mercy. None can deny your grace. Holy is your name. May all the nations praise you, may they all praise you in the assembly.

Father, I don’t know how you did this… I don’t know how to even thank you. Father, you have been gracious beyond the ability of my words to express. My tongue is tied in knots and trips over itself as I try proclaim the wonders of your majesty… you are holy. Holy is your name…

I don’t know how you did it or even why you did it but you worked everything out. For so much of my life I have begged and pleaded to have the faith of mustard seeds and to move mountains with it… but you are so much bigger than I ever imagined. God, you are gracious and merciful. Thank you so much for your grace. Thank you so much for your mercy. Thank you God… you are awesome and amazing… Thank you so much…

I can’t get over how much grace you’ve showered me with… I have in no way earned your favor or your deliverance. I did nothing that was worthy of it. Father, thank you so much. Til my last breath I will proclaim. Great is the Lord… Great is your name… I give my life… to sing your praise.

Thank you so much… this is more than I deserve.

I don't write a ton of blogs these days. Mostly because school has put "time" in a Full-Nelson. And today is no different. I have about 200 pages of reading awaiting my perusing. And right now I am hurting... quite a bit. The past few months I've fought back more tears than I can count. I've begged God to stop hurting me. I've pleaded with Him to stop. I've implored Him to give me some semblance of help. I've yelled at Him for taking any and everything that I hold dear. But even in the midst of swirling winds, as waves rise up like towers, threatening to smash out any remnant of hope within you, know that we do not serve a God who leaves things broken. He is a redemptive God. He is faithful and He cares. Oh just imagine! The God of all Creation is specifically concerned with you!

I hope that this blog reminds you of one thing: God is faithful and sovereign. Maybe that's two things. I'll let you philosophers figure that one out.

If you've read this far, you're probably wondering what's the point. Well, I'll give you four:
  • God Doesn't Require Perfect Faith- I love how at the end, I was able to see that my faith was so insufficient. It lasted for six months of agony and uncertainty. But then it cracked under pressure like a thin slab of concrete. But God's help isn't locked up in heaven waiting for us to muster up enough faith to reach it. People will tell you that, but they're lying. But know that, you can also ask Him for the faith to believe even in the midst of doubt. He's big enough for you to ask the tough questions. He's gentle enough to care that you're hurting. He's good enough to love us even when we're fed up with Him.
  • Rejoice In Pain- Our circumstances don't change who God is, they just change the way we look at Him. But fight that. Cling to who you know Him to be until your fingers bleed. In October, my faith shattered completely. I knew God was real but I really started to view Him as that angry man in the sky with a magnifying glass, bent on giving me pain because He was bored. But that's not who He is. And in pain, He is testing your faith to make sure that it is genuine. Believe that He is all that He has claimed to be.
  • Look Forward with Hope- One day, the pain will have faded, the season will have ended, and you will look upon your Savior with renewed eyes. I know this from experience. One day, you won't really have words to express how awesome He is and you'll be at a loss for how He really is Faithful and True. God will prove to you once again that He is all that He's claimed to be and that He is realer and greater than you ever could imagine. Long for this day. Look forward to this day. Expect this day because it's coming. Sooner or later, our hope will be obsolete.
  • God is Faithful. God is Sovereign. Jesus is Coming Back- Yes, the pain looks insurmountable. But God has promised to rectify the brokenness one way or the other. Either He will deliver you from the pain or He will use it deliver you into His presence. And honestly, I do not know which is to be desired. Or maybe I do...
So, as the good Apostle once said, let us be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.