When Hope Came Down

Weighted down by the heavy yoke of oppression from Assyria, God’s chosen people lost hope. The royal family, once a mighty tree with its branches spreading far and wide, was cut down. Only  a stump remained, its roots decaying to nothingness.

It was from this hopeless stump that a tiny shoot sprouted forth. Unnoticed, ignored, and despised by many. Jesus, fully God, was born on the humbled ground of broken humanity. He became like us to suffer with us and for us.

“God became like us so that we might become like Him.
He came to this dung-filled dungeon we call earth and sat with us,
touched us, loved us, and called us to Him.
He also enters into the dungeons of our hearts
and transforms them.”
Diane Langberg

Is your heart deeply troubled? Does it seem like everything is crashing in on you and around you? Does the enemy of our souls pummel you with lies that there will never be any hope for you? That Jesus didn’t come for you, because you are too dirty and worthless?

God has sent His hope for each of us. Not one of us, no matter how badly we have sinned or how dirty and shamed we feel because of sin against us, is too hopeless for God to rescue and redeem. It is His delight to touch us with His love and grace. His arms are open wide to receive us. His passion for our deliverance seeks after us and draws us.

But sometimes our hearts can feel so dark and despairing that we have a hard time believing it, right? The devil works hard to keep our eyes and hearts closed to the hope Jesus has brought to this world. We look within us and are overwhelmed by our brokenness. We look around us and think there is no peace on earth.

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth He sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In the history of Israel, God proved He reigns and His hope will prevail. Though His people suffered yet many more years of oppression at the hands of enemies, God showed that His sprout of Hope gained the victory. The enemies fell away and decayed while the Sprout grew and flourished. The King over all laid down His crown and was born in a stinky stable. Messiah, our promised Deliverer, came to pile on His love and mercy. To pull us up out of the pit. To invite our starving souls to His rich banquet of unconditional love and bottomless grace.

“He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced His chosen child, Israel;
He remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what He promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.”
Luke 1:52-55 The Message

“When Hope Came Down”
by Kari Jobe

“Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy,
fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives,
filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit,
will brim over with hope!”
Romans 15:13 The Message

Injustice: Letting Go and Giving It Over to a God of Justice

God is Our Refuge and Strength

Recently I watched a movie in which a 17-year-old cheerleader got raped by football players. Sometimes I’m drawn to these movies just knowing justice usually wins out, unlike in real life, but other times I can’t bear watching them. I was riveted to this story, probably because I, too, was so young and vulnerable. I deeply identified with her pain, though the circumstances were different. I admired her courage and wished I was brave enough to bring out the truth and face my abuser.

As the movie ended, the over-pressured floodgates split open. I felt so forsaken, and I sobbed, “God, I didn’t want it either. Why wasn’t justice meted out to my abusers? Why can such injustice go on while I often carry the weight of it all yet? Why can people still blame me?”

God graciously answered me from His Word in Psalm 9 that He never lets His justice turn aside, I have to leave it in His hands, and He will continue to be a Refuge for the oppressed.

“He will judge the world with justice
and rule the nations with fairness.
The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed,
a refuge in times of trouble.”
Psalm 9:8-9

“Tell the world about His unforgettable deeds.
For He who avenges murder cares for the helpless.
He does not ignore the cries of those who suffer.”
Psalm 9:11-12

Yes, it is unbearable sometimes to think that evil and abuse get away with it, but I’m going to try to remember that God is a Judge. This means His anger waxes hot against our abusers in defense of us. It is not my place to mete out justice, but I have to learn to leave the time and place in His hands.

Sometimes, especially in some churches and families, justice is not served. The abuser is protected and the victim is silenced, shunned, and shamed. I have read of far too many cases like this and have experienced it myself. But sometimes it comes to the point where we just have to let go and let God. Sometimes no matter what we do or say, attitudes will not change. But God remembers still, and He will mete out justice or mercy as He sees fit.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak out the truth or escape from the clutches of abuse and manipulation. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t report abuse to the proper authorities. Neither does it mean we shouldn’t set boundaries against churches or persons who continue to victimize us. God doesn’t want us to heap justice against ourselves and punish ourselves. We are precious in His sight, and He cries when we cry. He wants us to find shelter in Him.

Have you been silenced, shunned, or shamed? Have you done all you can to protect yourself and others, and still there are many who do not believe you? Concentrate on your healing, not on the injustice in your life. Don’t get me wrong. I know it is far from easy. But sometimes there comes a time when we know that no matter what we do or say, justice isn’t served. And we can’t keep letting it eat us up inside. We can’t let it keep chaining us to our abuser. We have to let go and let God. God sees, knows, and remembers. He has it all under control. In His love and favor, He gives us a place to flee for refuge.

God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.
Psalm 46:1

Praying we will seek for shelter and strength
in an Almighty God who has all power in His hands!

In His grip of love and grace!

God can make our broken beautiful!

“I know that I don’t bring a lot to the table

Just little pieces of a broken heart

There’s days I wonder if You’ll still be faithful

Hold me together when I fall apart?

Would you remind me now of who you are?

That Your love will never change,

that there’s healing in your name

That You can take broken things,

and make them beautiful

You took my shame

And You walked out of the grave

So Your love can take broken things

and make them beautiful

I’m better off when I begin to remember

How You have met me in my deepest pain

So give me glimpses now of how You have covered

all of my heart ache, oh with all Your grace

Remind me now that You can make a way

You say that You’ll turn my weeping into dancing

Remove my sadness & cover me with joy

You say your scars are the evidence of healing

That You can make the broken beautiful

You make us beautiful, oh oh

You make us beautiful.”

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace