Friday, April 15, 2011

Hope in the Hard Places

I've been trying to write this post in my head for almost two weeks, and to be honest, it just really hasn't come together! As I shared previously, I was fortunate to attend a women's retreat sponsored by my friend Erica's church the first weekend in April. Nancy Guthrie shared some poignant and challenging thoughts on the topic of hope in the hard places, and used the book of Job as the cornerstone of her series. When I came back from the retreat, Spencer asked me about what I learned and what stuck out to me. Truthfully, I had a hard time answering... not because I didn't know, but because I was still processing so much of what Nancy shared. And even still, I find myself challenged by what she shared as we looked deeply into the life of Job. While I was pregnant with Isaac, I found myself reading through Job quite frequently. I felt so drawn to his story, and even more so to the way in which he responded to his sorrow and suffering. I was particularly comforted by the fact that this righteous man grieved so deeply and so openly. He didn't just grieve inwardly and give an appearance of having it all together on the outside; he grieved outwardly, too... fully revealing the depth of his sorrow (Job 1:20). Nancy shared with us that, "Real faith doesn't minimize how much loss hurts, but magnifies how sufficient God is." And I would add that He is the only thing that is sufficient enough to carry you through deep sorrow. What I found particularly challenging was this: after Job openly revealed the depth of his sorrow... he worshipped God. Job 1:20-21 says: "At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” I remember how hard it was for me to want to worship God. I remember not being able to sing songs in church, and I remember how the upbeat, cheery songs would almost make my stomach turn because I was aching so, so deeply. I think, though, that my view of what it means to worship when I first considered Job's response was a bit too narrow. Because truly, I believe that worship isn't just singing on Sundays. It isn't just singing along to Christian music in the car. True worship stems from remembering who we are in light of who God is, and we respond to Him in that proper place. And so those times when I cried myself to sleep, begging God to just be near? That's worship. The times when all I could do was open my Bible and read, yearning to find words of comfort and hope there? Countless times when even though I couldn't sing one word to one song in church because I was sobbing too hard to get any words out, but I stood up with the rest of the congregation anyway? That's worship. Nancy shared with us that as Christians, we worship because God is worthy, not because we feel like it... and in that, we find that God often then changes our feelings. I know that has been true for me. A few other great nuggets from Nancy as she walked us through the book of Job: - Genuine faith is revealed when we hold on to what is true about God, even when we suffer. - Goodness and godliness are no guarantee that we will not have to suffer. - The same circumstances that Satan uses to get us to reject God are often the same things that God uses to draw us closer to Himself. - God's love is an active commitment to our ultimate good and eternal happiness. - (In some cases), rather than providing healing, God will provide Himself. - Suffering provides us the opportunity to move from knowing about God, to knowing God in an intimate way. And she left us with this question: Has the suffering in your life allowed your faith to be proved genuine? It is my hope to be able to answer with an honest "yes."

10 comments:

Fearfully. Wonderfully. said...

I absolutely cannot tell you what this post meant to me. I'm 2 weeks into sorting through our 5th miscarriage diagnosis. I'm mostly angry, and when I'm not angry, I'm speechless, but I keep remembering the words you wrote almost 3 years ago as I started following your journey.

Thank you for the hope that rings in your words, and that even through the toughest of times you've allowed God's love to echo through your life.

I cannot thank you enough

livinglajuicy.com said...

Your blog comes at the most impeccable timing as I find my self questioning god and the prior suffering of losing two pregnancies and caring a new one. I often have wondered where he has gone.

Thank you for sharing it's done wonders for me.

Cort said...

stacy, you have such a gift with words. thank you for writing this and sharing your sweet tender heart. you are such a blessing to so many. God is and will use you MIGHTILY!

Heather said...

I have not experienced this type of Grieg but I have to believe that your ability to keep your eyes on God and sharing could help so many hurting families. Thank you for sharing. Your strength and continued faith is amazing!

Jacksmom said...

You always write so well and say things in such a moving way. I gave you a blog award, so stop by and pick it up.

Jenn - aka honey or mom said...

I read Nancy's book Holding Onto Hope when I was pregnant with Noah. It was good to get her insight into Job and hard times...even though I still don't like God's final response to Job, basically, "Who are you?" I've struggled with the same things you mentioned and have learned, and still learning, to "rid me of myself" and just trust Him who knows better.

cinnamoroll said...

I find your blog so moving!:)


http://www.anjali-corner.blogspot.com/

Sonya said...

I have been reading your blog for a long time and I am always amazed at how eloquently you write. Thank you for continuing to share your story and Isaac's story and blessing those of us who are going through our own versions of loss and grief.

Staci said...

Your post kept showing up first in my Reader and I just hadn't had a chance to read it ... until tonight.

Your words are just so true and pure. I appreciate you so openly sharing your raw emotions. It makes us each better.

Sonya said...

I had to post another comment. This post was on my heart this morning as I was listening to Chris Tomlin's song I lift my hands. I love this song and have been clinging to it lately as I work through some things but the part where he sings "I lift my hands to believe again" took on a whole new meaning for me as the thought of this post popped into my head. Thanks again for sharing your story and this heartfelt REAL post!!