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Cry aloud before the Lord, O walls of beautiful Jerusalem! Let your tears flow like a river day and night. Give yourselves no rest; give your eyes no relief. Lamentations 2:18

whyA couple years ago, a little five-year-old boy mysteriously disappeared from his parent’s yard. News of this little guy’s disappearance spread like wild fire throughout the area. Thousands of people overwhelmed the community in search for this young life. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that temperatures were near 100 degrees and humidity was high.

The family farm was surrounded by cornfields and swamps, a nearly impossible place to find such a little body. Prayers were offered. Tears were shed. Tempers rose higher than the temperatures. Three days later his lifeless body was found in the trunk of a car on the family property. The car trunk had been overlooked because no one expected the little guy to be able to climb in the trunk and close the lid (when he was found he had the car keys with him).

It was a horrible situation to be sure and not to lessen the severity of that, but one of the things that stands out to me about the story is how earnestly people sought for this precious jewel. Some were overcome by heat and ‘ordered’ of the search for their own safety!

Lamentations is a book written by Jeremiah. Its theme is exactly what the title would imply – tears, weeping and anguish. The prophet Jeremiah is mourning the judgment of God against his people. He sees the pain and agony. He senses the seeming silence of God.

Were I to paraphrase Lamentations 2:18 to those who are struggling with life, it would go something like this. “I know you are in pain! I know what it’s like to feel like God has abandoned you. I see the turmoil and yes, I too question why! But never stop looking for God in all this. Never lose sight of his promises over and over again that he walks with you through the pain. Like a river in the wilderness, keep flowing. Don’t stop.”

Sometimes there seems to be no answer to the struggles in our lives, but we should never stop seeking God’s face.

PRAYER: Father God. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t understand why you allow such pain among your people. Yet, I acknowledge that you, and you alone are far too valuable to walk away from. So I will continue to pray for those in agony. I will continue to seek your face because you are worth it! Amen.


Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken. Isaiah 28:16 NLT

 

The word picture that Isaiah paints is amazing. A foundation stone. Firm. Tested. Safe. Something you can count on to withstand the effects of time. The cornerstone was considered precious because it formed the basis for the rest of the building. The meaning of the word implies that even were the rest of the building collapse and the other three corners sink away, this one precious cornerstone would remain intact.

It’s a firm cornerstone. It’s securely placed. It won’t be affected by the winds of change or climate.

It’s a tested cornerstone. It has withstood the tests of time. It has weathered attacks from all angles. It has survived the ravages of war; the destructive effects of nature; the subtle deterioration of neglect.

It is safe. The dictionary definition of safe is simply to be free from harm or risk. What can you find in life that doesn’t involve risk? What would you give for a pill that, when taken, would protect your child from all harm?

The Apostle Paul tells us that “Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.” (Ephesians 2:20 NLT)

Jesus tells us there will be storms; there will be trials; there will be rejection in this world. Then he says, don’t worry. I’ve already overcome the world. In another spot he proclaims victory for all generations of those who follow him when he tells us that the gates of hell will not prevail, rather the church will be triumphant.

We live in perilous times. It may seem to you like the church is losing ground; like evil is running rampant; that God’s word is being overwhelmed. His word will not return void. His True church will not fail because it is built on a cornerstone that is firm, tested and safe.

That stone is Jesus Christ. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. All things that are made are made by him and for him. His glory will prevail. So, don’t be discouraged by the struggles that face you. Don’t lose heart when society seems to be destroying all we hold to. We have a safe place in which to rest in Jesus Christ our Lord.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. I look around me at the state of our world. I’m troubled by the things I see, the things I hear and the things I see people do. I’m confused as to why many who claim your name seem to be going against your precepts. Help me to remember I am safe in you. Empower me to reach out in grace to those who need to know the True Way. Amen.


My God, my God, why have you deserted me? Why are you so far away? Won’t you listen to my groans and come to my rescue? Psalms 22:1 (CEV)

There’s an old saying that ‘when a plane is going down, there are no atheists’. When death stares us in the face; when the crisis seems too big to bear; when we feel completely alone, abandoned and helpless, our thoughts turn to God, or at least to some supreme, higher power.

The words of Psalm 22 are referred to as a ‘Messianic Psalm’. This means that the words of the Psalmist, words written hundreds of years before Christ was born, look forward to his coming and to his suffering in our behalf.

While this is true, it’s important that we remember the original context of the words. This was a Psalm of confession. This was a Psalm of honesty and desperation. After all, where is God in our deepest need? It’s easy to find him when things go well. It’s easy to sense his presence when the bills are paid, our children’s grades are good and the report from the doctor is positive. But where is he when none of those things apply? Even in the midst of his despair the Psalmist acknowledged his faith in God. Even during the darkest night he reaffirmed his confidence that God would see him through.

At times God seems distant and unconcerned about our plight here on earth, but that is not true. He loves us and as any loving father desperately wants a love relationship with us. There are times however when his distance is not because he has moved but because we have moved away from him. Sin is the primary culprit when we feel God’s distance.

While Jesus had no sin in him these words were some of the final words Jesus spoke from the cross. During those final hours he addresses his father as ‘My God’. There is no other place that I can think of in scripture where Jesus addresses God as ‘My God’. Everywhere else he talks about ‘His Father’. But when sin enters the picture (not his but mine) the intimate phrase of ‘Father’ is replaced by the term ‘My God.’

It was sin that kept the fathers back turned to his own son. Not because of his lack of love but because his holiness doesn’t allow him to look on sin.

It was sin caused the feelings of utter despair and separation within the very soul of the savior. Sin drives a wedge in the relationship. Sin replaces our feelings of love with fear and emptiness, just as it did with Adam and Eve in the garden.

Sin does the same thing today. Sin, but whatever name we call it can not be a part of a healthy, secure relationship with the living God. While sin separates us from God, it doesn’t have to be that way. The feelings of separation Jesus felt in his dying moments paved the way to a deeper relationship with God.

Jesus felt the separation sin caused because he knew the Father and he knew when the Father’s presence was missing. You may remember a time in your life when God seemed real, but time and circumstances have taken that from you. There’s still hope. God hasn’t forsaken you. Sin may have clouded your vision of him. Forgiveness is still there for you. The relationship can be restored. And it’s all because of Jesus.

PRAYER: God, I remember a time in my life when you were real to me. I felt your power. I knew your presence. Like the little boy in ‘The Polar Express’, I heard the bells. But today I feel distant from you. Examine my heart. Show me where I’ve sinned. Forgive me now and restore our relationship through Jesus Christ. Amen.


You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your care you watched over my life. Job 10:12

Ever said to yourself, “I wish God would just send me an email or text message and tell me what to do!”?

Some of our texts would go something like this: “So, how can I tell my mom and dad I’m [pregnant; gay; dropping out of school]” or “Where should I apply for a job?” or “What is going to happen with this relationship? Should I pursue it, or leave it alone?” or “I’m going to the doctor in an hour, can you heal me before I go? If not, what’s the report going to say about my cancer?” or “The bank just called, God. The house is being foreclosed on. Can you tell me what to do next?”

The list goes on and on of the questions that come across our minds. Questions about how we should act/react, searching for guidance, advice, direction, and information on how to trust God more, or make him more a part of your life. The God we believe in is not only loving, gracious and merciful, he’s mysterious. Sometimes our pursuit of him and of the best way to travel this journey we call life seems to find one detour and/or dead end after another.

Look at the life of Job. A man steeped in wisdom and understanding. A worshipper of the true God. A man of great wealth and generosity to the community and his family. Yet in spite of all the good things he had going for him, financial, physical and relational attack landed him in a pile of ashes and scraping open sores with a broken bowl. Even Job’s so-called friends could offer no comfort or no answers.

Yet in the midst of his agony Job gives this stirring testimony of God’s presence and love in his life. He says [my paraphrase] “I wish you’d talk to me and tell me why all this stuff is happening to me. I’ve lost my kids, I’ve lost my wealth, my wife has lost faith in you and me, and these great friends of mine keep telling me to suck it up because if I hadn’t sinned this wouldn’t be happening. I know better God. I’ve seen in my walk with you that you are a great and compassionate God who has watched over me all my life.”

That’s real faith! Faith says that even though God seems a million miles away from me and my situation, I know I can trust Him to see me through. You see, no one who has ever sought grace and forgiveness has ever been denied. No one who has called out to Jesus in true repentance and faith has been ignored.

Remember Lazarus who lay on his death bed, looking down the street for his friend Jesus to come. He knew healing was in reach but it never came…until after he died. Think of the woman caught in adultery. Guilty? Yes. Ready to be stoned? You bet. But one by one her accusers left because of Jesus. Think of the thief on the cross. Moments from death and eternity in hell, yet in his last gasp he calls on Jesus and is ushered into eternal life with the Messiah.

Need a message from God? Look to his son Jesus for compassion and strength. Remind yourself of the great promises he gave you in his love letter we call the Bible. In your deepest need don’t forget that he is with you and waits to deliver you from whatever is keeping you from seeing his face.

PRAYER: Father God. Even though I believe in you and your Son Jesus, I confess that I often wonder where you are in the struggles of my life. Forgive me for the doubt. Remind me of the great promises you’ve given. Empower me to live in the grace only you can give. In Jesus name, Amen.

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