Encouragement, Suffering, Tragedy

Throwback Thursday ~ Weeping with Those Who Weep

Originally published August 26, 2016

weep

 

I was driving down the road one day last week, if sitting through three red light cycles per intersection due to horrendous traffic could rightfully be called “driving,” that is. Hot and sweaty, filthy, emotionally drained, and exhausted from cleaning and hauling, I was making my way from my best friend’s flooded house to help out at my ninety-five year old grandmother’s flooded house, guilt-stricken that I couldn’t be in both places at once.

And that’s when I heard it.

I was listening to one of my favorite theological podcasts, and when the host began talking about the flooding in Baton Rouge, my ears perked up. He began talking about God’s sovereignty- that, because God always does what is best for believers – for our discipline, growth in holiness, increased dependence on Christ, and the like – that this flood was good for us. He said it kindly, lovingly, and backed up with Scripture. And he was absolutely right.

Yet, three days after a life-altering catastrophe, with a heart still raw and broken for my loved ones and my community, it was exactly what I did not need to hear.

It’s crucial to bring good theology to bear on every situation we face in life. We need to apply Scripture to the situations we go through in order to help us make biblical sense of things, walk obediently, give thanks, and glorify God.

And yet, the Bible doesn’t say, “Give a theology lecture to those who weep.” It says, “Weep with those who weep.” Why? God is all about the Word, isn’t He? Why wouldn’t He want us to jump right in and exhort hurting people with scriptural principles?

Because He knows us. He created us.

People need a minute to take a breath and absorb everything that has happened to them before their hearts and minds are ready to transition into thinking theologically about the situation.

Sometimes we just need to sit and cry for a while. And maybe we need someone we love to sit and cry with us. No Romans 8:28. No talk about how God is going to use this to grow us. No discussion of whether God “caused” or “allowed” this tragedy. Just some time to grieve without having to think. And God’s word says that’s OK.

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Even Job’s companions, poor theologians though they were, got this part right:

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.
Job 2:11-13

But sometimes, even with the best of intentions, maybe without even realizing it, we skip the vital step of making an appointment to sympathize with and comfort our suffering loved ones. We neglect to rend our hearts and sit on the ground and weep with those who mourn. We fail to see that their suffering is very great. And yet this is one of the very ministries Christ calls us to.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.

A time to discuss theology, and a time to weep with those who weep.

Encouragement, Suffering, Tragedy

Weeping with Those Who Weep

weep

 

I was driving down the road one day last week, if sitting through three red light cycles per intersection due to horrendous traffic could rightfully be called “driving,” that is. Hot and sweaty, filthy, emotionally drained, and exhausted from cleaning and hauling, I was making my way from my best friend’s flooded house to help out at my ninety-five year old grandmother’s flooded house, guilt-stricken that I couldn’t be in both places at once.

And that’s when I heard it.

I was listening to one of my favorite theological podcasts, and when the host began talking about the flooding in Baton Rouge, my ears perked up. He began talking about God’s sovereignty- that, because God always does what is best for believers – for our discipline, growth in holiness, increased dependence on Christ, and the like – that this flood was good for us. He said it kindly, lovingly, and backed up with Scripture. And he was absolutely right.

Yet, three days after a life-altering catastrophe, with a heart still raw and broken for my loved ones and my community, it was exactly what I did not need to hear.

It’s crucial to bring good theology to bear on every situation we face in life. We need to apply Scripture to the situations we go through in order to help us make biblical sense of things, walk obediently, give thanks, and glorify God.

And yet, the Bible doesn’t say, “Give a theology lecture to those who weep.” It says, “Weep with those who weep.” Why? God is all about the Word, isn’t He? Why wouldn’t He want us to jump right in and exhort hurting people with scriptural principles?

Because He knows us. He created us.

People need a minute to take a breath and absorb everything that has happened to them before their hearts and minds are ready to transition into thinking theologically about the situation.

Sometimes we just need to sit and cry for a while. And maybe we need someone we love to sit and cry with us. No Romans 8:28. No talk about how God is going to use this to grow us. No discussion of whether God “caused” or “allowed” this tragedy. Just some time to grieve without having to think. And God’s word says that’s OK.

background-1014963_1280_20160825204650279

Even Job’s companions, poor theologians though they were, got this part right:

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.
Job 2:11-13

But sometimes, even with the best of intentions, maybe without even realizing it, we skip the vital step of making an appointment to sympathize with and comfort our suffering loved ones. We neglect to rend our hearts and sit on the ground and weep with those who mourn. We fail to see that their suffering is very great. And yet this is one of the very ministries Christ calls us to.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.

A time to discuss theology, and a time to weep with those who weep.

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ 1 Thessalonians 4

In the Mean Time

1 Thessalonians 4

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

 

Bible, Law- Old Testament, Old Testament, Sunday School

Loving God’s Word: Psalm 119 ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 6-8-14

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These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 23 ~ June 1-7
Psalm 119:89-176, Song of Solomon 1-8, Proverbs 1-15
Loving God’s Word: Psalm 119

Last week and this week, we read through Psalm 119, the longest psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible. Today, I thought we would go a little “old school” — “old” as in “Old Testament.” It was not uncommon at various times of worship in the temple or synagogue for the people to listen to lengthy portions of Scripture being read. (In fact, when we get to Nehemiah 8, you’ll have a completely new perspective on what constitutes a “lengthy” passage of Scripture or a “long” sermon!). But it’s an aspect of worship and teaching the church has lost as the years have gone by. So today, we’re going to start at verse 1 of Psalm 119 and see how far we can get. I have some brief notes on some of the verses/sections that I’ll share with you, and I encourage you to ask questions and comment as we read.

Note to blog readers: This is one of those “ya kinda had to be there” lessons. I’m happy to report that we ended up making it all the way through the chapter and even had some great discussion along the way! 

 

Psalm 119

1-8-The importance of obedience.

9-16- The importance of God’s word. We cannot be obedient to Him without His word, because His word tells us what He requires of us.

14, 16- The psalmist calls God’s word a “delight”. This was at a time when most of his “Bible” consisted of the Pentateuch, which was mostly law. He delighted in it, not primarily because of the do’s and dont’s, but because these were the words from the mouth of God. Also because the non-law portions reflected the greatness, power, mercy, and other attributes of God.

20 (John 1:1)- “My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.” The psalmist has a genuine love for, and godly obsession with, God’s rules/statutes/ordinances/commands. It is not just a love for the rules themselves; a desire to obey them is inextricably interwoven throughout that love. The reason the Christian has a natural love for, and obsession with, God’s word is that Christ IS that word (John 1:1)

25-32- The psalmist realizes that only God’s word gives life, strengthens the sorrowing soul, and transforms the heart and behavior, therefore, he “clings” to them. He asks God to teach him His ways and give him understanding of His word.

32 (John 8:34-37)- “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!” (for you set my heart free). Rather than seeing God’s law as confining or burdensome, the psalmist says they set his heart free. This is one of the core differences between the genuinely regenerated and those who are not. Christians, while we may struggle to understand and obey God’s word at times, know that it is His word that sets us free (if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed- John 8- This is, in fact, why we struggle to obey it instead of struggling against obeying it.). Lost people see God’s word as confining, enslaving, a prison. This is why, when coming face to face with God’s word, they rebel against it.

59- 60- “When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to Your testimonies.” The solution for sin is found in God’s word. Our shame over our sin should drive us TO His word, not away from it.

63- We make our friendships with those who keep His law.65-72- This passage extols God’s goodness even in times of hardship and attack. God’s word is the psalmist’s comfort and reassurance. Even in difficult times, he values God’s word more than great riches.

75- “In faithfulness You have afflicted me” The psalmist isn’t blaming God or accusing Him of wrong. He knows that what God does, He does for our best. He has already, in the preceding passage shown that affliction was valuable in teaching him to keep God’s commands. He goes on to say in v. 92 that he would have perished in his affliction if it had not been for his delight in God’s word.

81-88- Even when we know God is good and He afflicts us in faithfulness, it gets old and wearisome. The psalmist (88) asks God to ease up, not for his own personal comfort or gain, but so that he will be better able to keep God’s word.

97-104 (Proverbs 1:7)- This passage echoes what we studied in Proverbs this week about wisdom. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 1) The psalmist shows us that the knowledge of God’s word and the wisdom gained from it surpasses any other form of knowledge or wisdom: the craftiness of the enemy (98), academic knowledge (99), and the wisdom of age and experience (100).

129-136- The psalmist’s deep love for God and His word is palpable. It runs so deep he can scarcely convey it, even with so many descriptions in so many verses. He loves the Lord so much that it breaks his heart for others to continue in sin. This is the love that should fuel our evangelism. God’s testimonies are wonderful (129). They enlighten and give wisdom to even the simplest person (130), yet people throw them away in favor of their sin. It is incomprehensible to the psalmist.

137-144- God has laid down his precepts in righteousness. They are righteous and He is righteous.

158 (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)- We often look at “the faithless” (lost people) with disgust because they do not keep God’s commandments, but we must keep in mind that that’s what lost people do. (That’s what we did before we were saved!- 1 Corinthians 6) They are slaves to sin and need Jesus to set them free.

As we continue to study God’s word,
we will grow to love Christ more and love His word more.

Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18