They will celebrate your abundant goodness and sing joyfully of your righteousness. Psalm 145:7 (NIV)
Monday, February 5, 2024, will be four years of affliction of the feet. How am I approaching it? With mixed emotions – evidenced by the title of this post.
Each of these verbs are mentioned and commanded in the Bible. And each have their place. I will attempt to work through them in light of my current circumstance and where I am with the Lord in this.
Walk with me, won’t you?
celebrate. God desires us to be a joyful people and to celebrate Him. As King David wrote in Psalm 145, we are to celebrate God’s goodness. Even if this is all we were to do, it is enough to keep us going for an eternity. As the angels, seraphim and the heavenly hosts cry out:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Revelation 5:12 (NIV)
This is the song of heaven and it is on repeat. Think of the sound surrounding the Throne of God. Immense. Perfect. Beautiful. It is a celebration of grand proportions. Because God is worthy. Jesus is worthy. The Holy Spirit is worthy.
Not only for what they do, but because of Who they are. They are worthy of my worship. It is reason enough for me to forget my cares and afflictions and to lay them at the Lamb’s feet. Lay them all down and celebrate His goodness.
From this perspective, I can celebrate. I can honestly put the affliction of years in the shadows and have a heart of worship. I can lift up my Lord in praise. I can put the suffering in my pocket, so to speak. In the Throne Room, my affliction is what brings me here, but it is not what keeps me here. God keeps me here. My relationship with Him and my desire to please Him holds me fast to Him. And it is good.
commemorate. This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD – a lasting ordinance. Exodus 12:14 (NIV)
God was establishing Passover for His people. He was separating them from the stiff-necked Egyptians, the oppressive people who held His chosen people captive in slavery. Through this one act, He was removing Israel for Himself. And He was commanding His people to commemorate this mighty display of love, power, choosing, protection and provision.
And, Israel has commemorated Passover ever since. Ultimately Passover pointed to Jesus as the fulfillment of the sacrificial Lamb, but at the time the people did not know that. God did and He set this in motion in Egypt when His people were in the height of their captivity.
Sounds a lot like my life. Am I being held captive by affliction? Yes. Is it against my will? Yes. Is it part of God’s Sovereign plan just like Egypt was for His chosen people. Yes.
Am I to follow God in His leading to commemorate of His separating me out and calling me His own? Yes.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NIV)
Well, I failed the surprised test. Miserably. I was and continue to be surprised. Lord, please forgive me.
Even though suffering is not a gig I wanted to ever participate in, God has chosen me to be part of this team. God’s ways are not my ways (Isaiah 55:8). And I have a choice. Commemorate, rejoice, celebrate or run. Honestly, I have chosen running more often that I would care to admit.
I am actually running now.
Talk about being real. But, there you have it. The raw emotions of a girl trying to make sense of suffering. Reading Peter’s words is easy, and they make sense. It is living them out that gives me trouble. Especially 4 long years. A month is manageable. So are two. But relentless suffering, imprisonment is anguish – from a fleshly perspective, is insurmountable.
To get in line with God, I need to get, have and maintain His perspective. How? There is only one Way. His name is Jesus. Period.
remember. All throughout Scripture God calls us to remember. Various commandments, love, His character, His goodness, His care. Repeatedly we are instructed to recall to mind all of Scripture. We have the added benefit in the 21st century of the Bible being in written form. Even if our minds forget, we can go back and read it, again and again. We have no excuse.
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David, this is my gospel, for which I am suffering to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 2 Timothy 2:8-9 (NIV)
Jesus is at the center of our remembering. Not our suffering. Paul, in writing to Timothy, and at the end of his life, made it very clear, Whom he was serving and why. Can I do the same? Can you?
forget. I want to forget the last four years. Many painful trials have happened globally as well as personally these last 4 years. I want to erase them from my memory and get my life (my old life) back. Move on. Forget them. Remove all trace.
There is some merit to this because by recalling and re-living painful memories, tragedies and the like, we re-open fresh wounds just beginning to scab over. By revisiting the trauma, we unintentionally traumatize ourselves repeatedly. I am no psychologist, but getting stuck in this cycle only leads to other and more devastating trauma in the future. How do we get off and break this merry-go-round?
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)
Honestly, this passage came alive to me just now. Every single word popped off the page and became real. It is here God wants me – to forget the past and strain towards the prize – Jesus. It always, and should, point to Him.
So, in faith, I will celebrate. I will commemorate. I will remember.
But more importantly, I will forget.
Is God speaking to you too?
Father, what lessons You have taught me these last four years. None of this was a surprise to You - only to me. You are Sovereign. And You are good. You are worthy - in a season of suffering or not. And You sit on a Throne as King. King of my life. May I honor You in all I do. Forgive me for making this about me, and not making this about You. I repent. And seek to keep the prize in mind - Jesus. In Him alone is the Strength I need to do this. I lay myself on Your altar as a sacrifice of praise. AMEN