Tears…we are refreshed by a good cry and some even watch movies to bring about such “refreshing”. Sometimes our tears are a result of gut wrenching pain. Not always physical, but emotional. Turmoil surrounds us and we feel like we are flailing in the water, struggling to keep our heads above the surface of the deep.
Studies have been done on tears…what they are made of and what response they bring from those around us. Irritant tears are composed of something different than emotional tears releasing different pheromones. Though I don’t come anywhere close to understanding all this, I do find it fascinating the way God created us.
The Bible is no stranger to tears. To name every story would take much longer than you or I have! (And I’m sure that WordPress would not like all the space we would use 🙂
Our family has been no stranger to tears, not unlike most of you I’m sure. My purpose here is not to dump baggage on you, quite the opposite, my purpose is to encourage you and in that process, me. In the midst of our move, we have yet to sell our house up north. Our insurance company has determined to drop our account since we are no longer living there full time. We could pay more money to be insured as vacationers but unfortunately we can’t afford that (we really aren’t those people who are in a position to have a vacation home). In light of this new situation, after taking a HUGE step to move, our family is facing being separated (Shawn here with his job, and the girls and I there) until the house sells. 1st world problem, I know…but we are tested and tried where we are. As someone who grew up in a single parent home, it has been vitally important to me to have a solid family for my girls. So the last 24 hours has been a roller coater of emotion.
My desire? To praise God in ALL things. Coincidentally I will be attending CIT at Bair Lake Bible Camp this summer where we will be focusing on the book of Philippians. In preparation for that, I have started an eight week study on Philippians called “Joy in the Midst” by Carrie Gaul. After reading and re-reading this book that is chocked full of applicable lessons, today in the midst of a valley of tears, it crossed my mind, “Did Paul cry?” My response to myself was, “Of course, he MUST have!” Having been blinded by the Lord on the road to Demascus, waited for a man the Lord would send, waited for DAYS. Then because of his faith in the very God he sought to snuff out, he was beaten, stoned, left for dead, tried, shipwrecked, and jailed, just to name a few. He saw those he loved and labored for in the faith, walk away and those he discipled he received news of immaturity and squabbling. Through all of this there MUST have been tears. Tears of physical pain AND emotional anguish.
Yet in the midst of all this he rejoices…not in his position (if you would call it a “position”), not in his status, not in anything HE has done…he rejoices in what he sees God doing. That then begs the next question. “What did he do when he didn’t see God working in a specific situation?” The answer? He focused on the faithfulness of God and he clung to the faithfulness that God had instilled in others, like the Philippians. He starts the book with a prayer of thanksgiving for them. He is in PRISON and his desire is to be able to visit those who are remaining faithful, as well as those who are wavering. Immediately in chapter two he points to Christ’s humility and then moves directly into how we are to reflect that humility. Beginning verse 12 with “Therefore”, connecting what he’s about to say to the previous section. He admonishes them to stand apart from this “twisted generation” followed by, “among whom you shine as lights in the world”. And THIS is immediately followed by how we do this, by “holding fast to the word of life”.
Without life’s “hallways” (the limbo that we find ourselves in from time to time) we won’t see God moving or his faithfulness. We are a stiff necked people. Of all the things over time that have changed, that has not, nor has God’s desire to woo us unto Himself. Instead of being stunned at hardships, I need to approach them with prayer and anticipation. Prayer to submit to His will, anticipation to see what He will do in me and through me next! I mentioned above that we have been through a lot, anyone who knows us knows that. In all of that, He has been faithful and He has done a MAGNIFICENT make over in me and in my family! Why would this time be any different? For this reason I must remind myself of yet another gold nugget in the book of Philippians, “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead”. We don’t forget in the sense of being oblivious to what has been. We forget in that we let go of what holds us back from pressing on. We can get laid up and detoured by our failures and even our victories. We are stiff necked…and we are proud. So in light of that, I need to let go of the distrust I have that God will prove Himself yet again. In these moments of tears I am being emptied. Emptied of self-reliance, self-focus, self-trust. And it is only when I am emptied, that I can be filled…with Him! Paul knew this, he looked forward to the riches of God, what was seen as he walked the earth and what was unseen, that awaited him in glory.
For this reason, I will take the advice of Paul and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (3:14) I will “hold true to what [I] have attained.” (3:16) I will “stand firm thus in the Lord”. (4:1) And I will rejoice! Not like a crazy person who is in denial of the trial, but as a child of God who sees what He has done and looks forward to what He will do! It is not in my circumstance that I will rejoice, but in my Lord, in Whom I trust. (4:4)
“…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (4:11-12) If you’re like me you look at that verse and beg to know, “What’s the ‘secret’?”…Verse 13, “I can do all things through him (Christ) who strengthens me.” (emphasis added)