Monday, March 21, 2011

How Long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?

"How Long O Lord? Will you forget me forever?" Can we really pray God? The truth is, sometimes I don't know what else to pray. I've been reflecting on Psalm 13 because it's been particularly relevant to me. How do we view suffering in our life, how to we endure hardship?

Once again I've been struggling with a weak and hurting voice. It started three years ago and was fairly extreme. No talking for at all for four months, plus another eight months of slow recovery. While my voice has never fully recovered, it's generally been pretty functionable for the last two years. But still, it hasn't fully recovered.

This winter something triggered it again and sent it back down into the dumps. For months now I spend hours each day doing the things that are supposed to make it better: stretching, humming, warming up my voice, eating healthy, drinking lots of water, exercising, using a humidifier, getting good sleep, taking long vocal breaks. But still it seems to get no better (or maybe a little better one day and then worse again the next).

I want to shout, I want to cry out to God: HOW LONG, O LORD? HOW LONG? When I first lost my voice the Lord used it to redirect my life; I had been building my life on the wrong things, and losing my voice helped me regain proper focus and learn how to trust and how to let go. But I don't get that sense from Him I am doing things grossly wrong. That's not why he's letting this happen. So why then? I am try to do everything right, and instead I'm met with hardship and suffering.

Welcome to the Christian life, right?

God has a purpose. If I've learned anything in my life, I've learned that God is in control ESPECIALLY when it seems like He's not. King David, when he wrote this Psalm was on the run for his life. For what? For doing good. He cried out to God because it didn't make sense? How long should he be rewarded evil for good? But in the end, David became an even better king than Saul because he learned sympathy, he learned to trust God and not himself. Suffering made him a better man and a better king. If we meet only success for our good efforts, we are likely to become like Saul and think we've always earned our success.

It's still ok to admit that suffering is hard, and to ask God to show himself when we can't see him. But let's also pray: "I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation." Never has God failed me yet, and I know that ultimately I will not be forgotten or rewarded evil for good, because Christ was ultimately ignored, and rewarded the ultimate evil for doing the ultimate good. My heart will rejoice once again.

Psa 13:1-6
(1) To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
(2) How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
(3) Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
(4) lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him," lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
(5) But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
(6) I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Preparing for Pruning

It's been a while since I've posted. I've been more and more convicted that I need to be posting more regularly.

Today's thought came from soemthing a student prayed out at our last Prayer Meeting from John 15:1-2 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. (2) Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Pruning. Fun to do when you're the pruner, not as fun when your the pruned. So why does God prune us? At my parents house we have some apple trees. Most of the trees we prune regularly. One was simply too big and complicated to prune. Over the last 15 years I've watched the difference between these trees has become more and more remarkable. The pruned trees havn't grown taller or broader, but their branches are thicker, stronger, more healthy. The other tree has grown much bigger, with branches shooting out everywehre into a tangled mess. But the biggest difference is the fruit.

In the spring time when everything is growing, a gardener prunes so that the energy being sent to the dozens of new branches, instead gets sent to the roots and the fruits. A sacrifice of one kind of more visible growth, for a better, though less immediately measurable growth.

Sometimes our lives feel cut off: doors close, we get sick, whatever. In these times I believe God is trying to remind us that branching off in every possible direction is not the best way to grow. He doesn't care so much about the quantity of our fruit, but the quality. God prunes us when we are trying to do more with our lives (and in our ministry) than God would have us do. When he prunes us, this is an invitation to invest that extra time or energy into our roots, into prayer, into our relationship with God. As our roots grow, the fruit we bear becomes juicier, plumper, more delicious. Yum.

Be prepared for pruning, and meet disappointment with investment in those roots. The harvest is just around the corner.