DayBreaks for 9/11/20 – No Matter the Prognosis

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NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

In his book If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil, Randy Alcorn recalls his friend, writer Ethel Herr, who had a double mastectomy. Two months later doctors discovered that the cancer had spread. One of Herr’s friends, shocked and fumbling for words, asked her, “And how do you feel about God now?” Reflecting on the moment the question was posed to her, Herr says:

“As I sought to explain what has happened in my spirit, it all became clearer to me. God has been preparing me for this moment. He has undergirded me in ways I’ve never known before. He has made himself increasingly real and precious to me. He has given to me joy such as I’ve never known before—and I’ve no need to work at it, it just comes, even amidst the tears. He has taught me that no matter how good my genes are or how well I take care of my diet and myself, he will lead me on whatever journey he chooses and will never leave me for a moment of that journey. And he planned it all in such a way that step by step, he prepared me for the moment when the doctor dropped the last shoe … God is good, no matter what the diagnosis or the prognosis, or the fearfulness of the uncertainty of having neither. The key to knowing God is good is simply knowing him.” 

Isn’t it good to have a traveling companion like Jesus, who will go with you on every step of your journey?  He has chosen the journey for each of us.  He could have chosen it and patted us on the back and said, “Good luck!  I hope to see you when it’s all over!”  But he didn’t.  He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  I have a hunch he emphasized the word “never” when he said that.  He wanted us to be sure.

I don’t know where your journey has already led you.  I don’t know where your journey will take you.  I don’t even know where my journey will take me.  We have this assurance, though: it isn’t really the journey that leads us, is it He Who leads us, and no matter the prognosis, we can safely complete the journey with Him at our side!

PRAYER: Thank You for choosing the journey that is perfect for each one of us, and for promising to travel with us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/7/20 – A Modern Lament

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From the DayBreaks archive, August 2010:

If you’ve read the Psalms at all, you’ve encountered songs of lament.  Lamentations is essentially a long lament.  Michael Card has written a book recently titled The Language of Lament, and it shows that “lamenting” can be a very valuable, and indeed, Biblical, activity.  At times I’m not sure where the dividing line between lamenting and complaining are, but there seem to be some very clear distinctives to me:

  1. Audience: we complain to other people, David and Jeremiah lamented to God;
  2. Purpose: in our complaining, often we simply want to just go on complaining, but in lamenting, one seems to be seeking understanding and wisdom;
  3. Objective: complaining is generally done to elicit sympathy from people – lamenting’s purpose is to plead one’s case to God and seek relief.

I recently ran across what I thought was an excellent modern day lament and wanted to share it with you.

On June 22, 2007, a hit-and-run incident left Daniel McConchie paralyzed from the waist down. Daniel says that since that traumatic day, “God has not healed my affliction, but he has taught me the power of lamenting to him about it.” He adds: “To our detriment, one of the most overlooked portions of Scripture in modern-day America are the psalms of lament. However, David repeatedly demonstrated that laments make obvious our intense faith in God, that he can and will intervene in our time of need. They demonstrate just how deep our relationship with the Father really is. After all, we don’t communicate our grief and mourning to strangers. We save that for those we truly know and love.”

With these words in mind, here is a lament Daniel wrote nearly a year after the accident, on April 9, 2008:

Oh Lord, my God! Why do you wait to show up?
I cried out to you when trouble struck.
I asked for your restoration.
I know that you heard me. I know that you answered.

Yet nothing—nothing of meaning happens again today.
Infinitesimal changes dog my days.
I am hounded by the prayers of the fickle
Looking to me to prove their faith.

Wearily I drag on
Tiring of the waste, hating the horror,
The pain, the suffering, the never-ending trial.
The endless story drags on, and on, and on.

When will the clouds break?
When will the night cease?
When will the tunnel end?
When will you smile again?

What a two-edged sword your voice is!
You speak. And then wait?
You give hope. And then vanish into the mist?
Have you forgotten me? Have more important things arrested your attention?

Hope turns black. This evil I have seen.
Nightly my dreams show me restored,
And in the morning I am broken again
Cursed to relive the horror of suffering’s first day.

Please slay me! Blot my name from the ranks of the living!
For in the grave can I finally rest.
My wife can have her dreams again;
My children a father who can provide as I should.

I wasted my youth. I dismissed the joys I should have embraced.
Now I am a mere spectator
Pretending to be consequential while others take my place.
A position I threw away one fateful day.

How long? How long must I wait here in the middle?
Between healing and hell,
Between heaven and horror,
I am unable to move … unable to see … lost in eternal confusion.

My demons torment me
Batting me about like a toy, I spin and crash in endless cycle.
I no longer know which way is up,
Which way is right, which way to go.

Which way is the path to life?
Is it up an un-climbable mountain?
Or on a path tread by all but me
And the others who are broken like I?

Surely it is impossible for me alone to find
And impossible for me to transverse.
Alone I am finished,
Dust left for the broom.

Who am I that God should remember me?
My only salvation is that he should not forget his image,
Or let his word be broken.
He is faithful to us because he is faithful to himself.

There is nothing I can do,
In no way can I help.
I sit in the ruins and wait,
And take comfort in those who lie in the ashes with me.

But one day, by his promise, I will stand;
Restored as his message of hope is fulfilled.
The Lord will turn this horror into a fading dream,
And I will honor his name forever.

Previously, I’ve suggested you write your own Psalms to God.  Perhaps today you need to write a lament.

PRAYER: Thank You that we can be honest with You and find comfort in Your Presence!  Heal those who hurt this day, In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/21/20 – Purpose Behind the Pain

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From the DayBreaks archive, July 2010:

There are many things about the ways of God that I can’t even begin to understand.  I think that it must needs be so.  He is infinite – I am finite.  He knows all things – I know virtually nothing.  He sees all things including thoughts – I see only what my eyes behold and I fail to understand what I see.  I do not understand why little children are afflicted with leukemia and cancer, or why they are abused and mistreated by those who have responsibility to care for them.  It is all beyond me.

As I prepared for my sermon this past Sunday in which I would be talking about difficulties and trust – even and especially when we don’t understand – I was pondering the value of suffering.  I have often looked at the story of Job and wondered why it was necessary for Job to pass through such ordeals.  Job is not alone – there are many in Scripture who suffered…there are many today who suffer.  And I, like every other human who faces suffering, leap immediately to the “Why?” questions. 

I want to know the why’s and wherefore’s, like the apostles who wondered why the man was born blind, or why the tower of Siloam fell and killed 18 people.  In both of those cases, Jesus redirects their thinking from looking backwards for answers to the “Why” questions and to look instead at the present and future to try to understand God’s redemptive purpose in such events.  In the case of the blind man, Jesus said it was so the glory of God could be manifested in that man’s life.  In the case of the tower, the point was that God wanted to get us to consider whether or not we would be ready if the tower were to fall on us today or tomorrow.  Neither looked backward…always forward to the furthering of God’s redemptive purpose.

I have often thought that the purpose behind suffering was for us to understand our own weakness and lack of faith – to reveal, if you will, our own little faith and to grow as a result.  But, yesterday morning, I realized that this was a very self-centered view of suffering and its purpose.  Might not God also allow us to suffer not so we come to realize how weak our faith is, but even more to understand how faithful God is?  That view brings glory to Him – the other view is so focused on us that we might miss the very chance to bring glory to Him by trusting Him more. 

There is a purpose behind each and every pain.  That doesn’t mean each and every pain is caused by God, but simply that there is a purpose related to redemption – our own, and that of the world, in each hurt.  Let us resolve to look forward to understand how God wants to use such events in our lives to further His kingdom.

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

PRAYER: Lord, help us to understand Your purpose for us today and tomorrow and each day for the rest of our lives.  May we not concern ourselves with questions that are too big for us to ask, let alone understand, lest we get distracted and lose focus on what is most important.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/04/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #25 – The Last Tear

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DayBreaks for 5/04/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #25 – The Last Tear

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. Today’s musical pairing: a simple version of “Give Me Jesus” by Sara Watkins. All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. – Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. – Revelation 21:4 (NIV)

Meditation 25. 3,305,595 confirmed cases, 235,861 deaths globally.

The Bible ends with an ecstatic vision. A new heaven and a new earth—and a new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (Rev. 21:2). A voice cries out from the throne of heaven and declares, Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Rev 21:3–4).

The heavenly proclamation includes an allusion to Isaiah 25:8: The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces.

It easy to forget how astonishing this is. The Jews had come to recognize that God is far greater than any other god people had ever imagined. They did not worship many gods and spirits. They worshipped a single God who created all things simply by speaking them into being. And yet that God, a God of transcendent power and ineffable majesty, also cares about the most minute sorrows of his people.

I live in a high and holy place, God says in Isaiah 57:15, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit. We may be tempted to dismiss it as a poetic sentiment. We shouldn’t. There is nothing more true than this. The immensity of the love of God is in the intimacy of his care. No sorrow is so small it escapes his attention. The God of the universe, the same God who set the span of the cosmos and rules over all time and space, gathers our tears in a bottle. For each of us. Our sufferings are remembered in God. Even the sorrows we never disclose to any person on the planet reside in him eternally…(Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

PRAYER: There will come a day when the last tear is shed. Then, O Lord, we will live among you forever. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Christianity Today’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CTMagazine

 

DayBreaks for 4/24/20: The Hallway through the Sea #21 – The Lord Gives and the Lord Takes

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DayBreaks for 4/24/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #21 – The Lord Gives and the Lord Takes

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, we return to Ezio Bosso for “Bitter and Sweet.” All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

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.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. – Job 1:20–22

Meditation 21. 2,682,225 confirmed cases, 187,330 deaths globally.

A friend and I had arrived at the monastery in upstate New York as the sun was setting over the fields and into the rustling woods. We joined the brothers for their evening meal. A little more than five years had passed since I had broken my neck in a gymnastics accident. I was still learning how to live with chronic pain.

“Don’t say that God gave you pain,” one of the monks advised over dinner that night. “Say that God can bring something good out of it.”

I thanked him for his thoughts, but I wrestled with those words for the length of my stay. In fact, those words have led me over the decades since to ask countless questions into the dark.

Part of me wanted to agree. God doesn’t make beautiful things broken. He makes broken things beautiful. God is not the beginning of suffering but its end. We have filled the world with affliction and we stumble into it ourselves; God did not make that path, but he carves a path through suffering and from suffering into embrace with him.

Another part of me differed. Does not Job ascribe both his blessings and his sufferings to the hand of God? Of course, readers of the Book of Job are privy to the heavenly deliberations preceding the calamity that falls upon his head. We know the question of causation is more complicated, and perhaps we shouldn’t build our theology around the outcry of a broken man. But there’s something bracing in Job’s directness and courage. The Lord gives. The Lord takes. He charged God with doing. He just didn’t charge God with wrongdoing.

Also, perhaps it was wrong of me, but I wanted my pain to come from God. Then it would not merely be that a purpose could be extracted from the situation. It would be that it had a purpose in the first place. In an odd way, my thorn in the flesh had become precious to me. I wanted it to be the same all-loving God who set the stars in their places who also, at just the right time, in just the right way, set my thorn in its place, too…(Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

PRAYER: As we walk through a season of suffering, O Lord, we thank you for the example of Job. You love the seekers, the askers of questions, the men and women who stand before the whirlwind and press for answers. We know there is truth in the proposition that you do not will these sufferings, but they flow from sin and from a world broken by it. Yet we also know there is truth in the opposite. Sufferings arise in the order you ordain, the world you sustain. You willed all of time and space before it came to be.

Help us, O Lord, like Job, to sit down and mourn and lament. Help us not to shy away from seeing your hand at work in this moment. Help us to make peace with the thorns in our flesh, to weep over them, to learn from them, and always to praise your name whatever may come. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CTMagazine

 

DayBreaks for 4/07/20 – The Hallway through the Sea – What Passion Week Means

When Is Holy Week in 2020? Holiday Dates

DayBreaks for 4/07/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #13 – What Passion Week Means

From Christianity Today and Tim Dalrymple, 4/06/20:

For today’s musical pairing, listen to “Agnus Dei,” Samuel Barber’s own choral arrangement of his “Adagio for Strings.”

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.’” – Matthew 16:21

Meditation 13. 1,324,907 confirmed cases, 73,703 deaths globally.

The chapters of the Gospels describing the suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are often called “passion” narratives. Medieval dramatizations are called “passion plays,” and the most famous rendering of those stories in film is called The Passion of the Christ.

As we enter into Passion Week, it’s worth pausing and asking why this is so. Why do we call these gospel accounts the “passion” of Jesus?

Words have histories, and the history of the word passion is long and illuminating. Passio is the Latin version of the Greek word pathos. For Aristotle and his followers, pathos referred to an affliction or disease. It was something endured passively, and morally it was neither praiseworthy nor blameworthy. Later, for the Stoics, the passiones were more associated with longing. We are not afflicted with disease but with desire. Whereas the Aristotelian school opposed passio to actio (passivity to action), the Stoics opposed passio to  ratio (desire to reason). The intent of the Stoic was not to endure afflictions patiently but to rise above our desires and yearnings into the higher tranquility of reason.

In other words, suffering and longing weave together in passion. You can hear the echoes of that history in words that derive from pathos and passio, such as sympathy and compassion, apathy and impassibility, pathological and impassioned.

As the philologist Erich Auerbach explains in Literary Language and Its Public, Christian thought goes further when it speaks of bonae passiones or good passions. The Christian does not seek to retreat from the longings and sufferings of the world, but to shape her worldly longings into longings for God, and her worldly sufferings into sufferings for Christ. By entering into her own sufferings, and the sufferings of others, particularly those who suffer unjustly, she takes up her cross, follows Jesus, and joins in the fellowship of his sufferings.

These concepts were fashioned centuries ago and are reflected in art and literature and the devotional texts of the mystics and monastics. But they touch on something—the duality of suffering and yearning—we can easily understand. When we desire something in the depths of our being, do we not suffer for its absence? Or when we suffer something deeply, do we not long for another world, a better world, a world there all things are made right? Is this not why we undertake the privations of Lent, so that even these minor sufferings will summon and deepen our desire for the deliverance of God?…  (Click this link to read the rest of the meditation.)

PRAYER: We ask you, O Lord, that you would help us in our suffering to sense the deeper yearning of our souls for you—and in our yearning to reach out to the suffering world as you do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page

The Hallway Through the Sea is a series of daily meditations from the president and CEO of Christianity Today, written specifically for those struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. It will address our sense of fear and isolation and also the ways we find beauty and truth and hope—and Christ himself—in the midst of suffering. The title of the column alludes to the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. We are a people redeemed from our enslavement to sin, yet we find ourselves living between where we were and where we are meant to be. Danger looms on both sides, but our hope and our faith is that God will deliver us through the sea and into the land of promise. If you wish, you can follow Timothy Dalrymple on Twitter @TimDalrymple_

PREVIOUS THE HALLWAY THROUGH THE SEA COLUMNS:

Out of the Depths

Chosen in the Furnace

The First Word and the Last

More . . .

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 3/30/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #7 – Let This Cup Pass

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DayBreaks for 3/30/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #7 – Let This Cup Pass

From Christianity Today and Tim Dalrymple, 3/27/20:

For today’s musical pairing, listen to Experience by Ludovico Einaudi. Note that all the songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist here.

“Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” – Matthew 26:27–28

“Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little further, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’” – Matthew 26:38–39

Day 8. 576,859 confirmed cases, 26,455 deaths globally.

The United States now has more cases of COVID-19 (over 86,000) than any other country in the world. The numbers of confirmed cases and fatalities have quadrupled over the past week as the disease continues to spread, symptoms surface, and testing catches up with reality. New York City is engulfed. Other cities will follow.

We are fighting a pandemic of disease and a contagion of panic simultaneously. We work to flatten the curve, but we cannot say where on the slope we stand.

We are reminded of you, Jesus, when you gathered in Jerusalem for a last supper with your disciples. You shared the bread of your broken body and the cup of your blood. With your blood, “poured out for many,” you established a fellowship of suffering. We share in your suffering and you share in ours, redeeming it from the inside out.

Later that night you crossed the Kidron Valley to the foot of the Mount of Olives, to the Garden of Gethsemane. Gethsemane means “oil press.” You were about to be crushed for our sake, and you knew it. You brought your dearest friends partway with you, then left them behind to fall prostrate before your Father. The weight of what approached was so immense you wept blood with your tears…(Click this link to read the rest of the meditation.)

PRAYER: If we must drink the cup, let us drink it with faith and join you in the fellowship of your sufferings. And yet we pray, as you prayed before us: Let this cup pass, O Lord. Let it pass, if it be your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(Click this link to read the rest of the meditation.)

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page

The Hallway Through the Sea is a series of daily meditations from the president and CEO of Christianity Today, written specifically for those struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. It will address our sense of fear and isolation and also the ways we find beauty and truth and hope—and Christ himself—in the midst of suffering. The title of the column alludes to the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. We are a people redeemed from our enslavement to sin, yet we find ourselves living between where we were and where we are meant to be. Danger looms on both sides, but our hope and our faith is that God will deliver us through the sea and into the land of promise.

Timothy Dalrymple is president and CEO of Christianity Today. Follow him on Twitter @TimDalrymple_

PREVIOUS THE HALLWAY THROUGH THE SEA COLUMNS:

Out of the Depths

Chosen in the Furnace

The First Word and the Last

More . . .

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 3/27/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #6 – The Suffering in Suffering

From the Fiery Furnace – A Sign of Hope

DayBreaks for 3/27/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #6 – The Suffering in Suffering

From Christianity Today and Tim Dalrymple, 3/26/20:

For today’s musical pairing, Der Klang der Offenbarung des Göttlichen by Kjartan Sveinsson. See video below.

“Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, ‘Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?’ They replied, ‘Certainly, Your Majesty.’ He said, ‘Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.’” – Daniel 3:24–25

Day 7. 511,603 confirmed cases, 22,993 deaths globally.

The suffering in this present moment is not captured in tallies and numbers. Alongside the loss of life is the loss of livelihoods, the loss of innocence, the loss of a sense of security. The scent of fear is in the air, and in the midst of the pandemic our epidemic of loneliness grows deeper.

Suffering has a tendency to isolate. It can carve us away from community, set us apart from the crowd, and strip away all our distractions and illusions and consolations. No one can experience our pain for us. No one can take it away. No one can cover it over with soothing words or glittering ideas. Even when we suffer together, we suffer alone.

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness,” Mother Teresa wrote, “and the feeling of being unloved.” Now the pandemic has made our spiritual isolation physical. We find ourselves in an enforced solitude, where our fears and anxieties echo in the emptiness. We ache for the presence of others.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were bound and hurled into the fiery furnace together, and they emerged unbound and unharmed. God met them in the fire. Christians are not wrong to read the story in the light of the Incarnation. Christ lowered himself into our condition. He made himself present with us. Christ entered into our sufferings and brought the love of God with him… (Click this link to read the rest of the meditation.)

PRAYER: Thank you, O Lord, that you are with us in our hour of need. Thank you that you have made yourself present in all the height and depth of our suffering. May we likewise enter into the sufferings of others and be bearers of your love there.

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page

The Hallway Through the Sea is a series of daily meditations from the president and CEO of Christianity Today, written specifically for those struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. It will address our sense of fear and isolation and also the ways we find beauty and truth and hope—and Christ himself—in the midst of suffering. The title of the column alludes to the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. We are a people redeemed from our enslavement to sin, yet we find ourselves living between where we were and where we are meant to be. Danger looms on both sides, but our hope and our faith is that God will deliver us through the sea and into the land of promise.

Timothy Dalrymple is president and CEO of Christianity Today. Follow him on Twitter @TimDalrymple_

PREVIOUS THE HALLWAY THROUGH THE SEA COLUMNS:

Out of the Depths

Chosen in the Furnace

The First Word and the Last

More . . .

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 3/23/20: Hallway Through the Sea #3 – Chosen in the Furnace

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DayBreaks for 3/23/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #3 – Chosen in the Furnace

From Christianity Today, 3/20/20:

Today’s pairing is “Rain, in Your Black Eyes” performed by Ezio Bosso, with a haunting underwater dance/film by Julie Gautier. See the video.

“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” – Isaiah 48:10 (KJV)

Day 3. 266,115 confirmed cases, 11,153 deaths globally.

Jesus refers to himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He also says his followers should take up their crosses and follow him. The Way is the way to the cross. The Truth is crucified. The Life is a life of suffering.

Suffering is endemic to the human condition but essential to the Christian life. Christ bids us to die to ourselves. He models suffering for others. We do not run toward suffering for its own sake. Suffering is not good in itself. But in Christ, as we love God and love others, we will suffer, and in suffering, we will understand.

Not long after I broke my neck in a gymnastics accident, I sat in the dark of a movie theater and saw the words of Isaiah 48:10 on the screen. My dreams had been stolen. The rest of my life would be rifled through with chronic pain. Yet a sense of gratitude flooded over me. Perhaps there was some sense to the suffering. Perhaps I had been refined in the furnace of affliction and chosen to serve for the glory of God. Perhaps we all are.

We cannot choose whether to suffer. We can only choose what it will mean for us—whether we will let our suffering heal us and deepen us and teach us things about ourselves and about our God that we would never have otherwise known. Kierkegaard called it the school of suffering. We all attend the school, but we must each choose to learn.

To read the rest of this meditation, click this link:  https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/march-web-only/covid-19-devotional-chosen-furnace-coronavirus.html?fbclid=IwAR308XexkDsZ5xgUIacBLEzhKWJ7oDCyVIsOIg0Ls3-7B95I92ih0PXxA7E

PRAYER: In our suffering, Lord, let us not only find grace and beauty, but be grace and beauty to the world!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CTMagazine/

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 3/05/20 – Job and the Worst Day Ever

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DayBreaks for 3/5/20: Job and the Worst Day Ever

I have always admired Job. Perhaps it’s because of how much God admired him and bragged on him. It’s hard not to admire someone about whom God is prone to boast.

You know the story: a messenger comes and tells him that some of his flocks and servants were killed in a Sabean raid. In rapid succession another messenger comes and tells him that the “fire of God” fell from the sky and killed the sheep and more servants. The third messenger proclaims the death of more servants and the camels at the hands of the Chaldeans. In short order, Job has gone from wealth to being totally bereft of any wealth or business.

Job’s response? Apparently nothing. Perhaps he realized that all those things had been given by God and he was merely the caretaker. Perhaps he reasoned that it was just “stuff” and could be replaced. We aren’t told.

But then one more messenger arrives with the worst news of all: a wind struck the home where all of his children were celebrating and every single one is dead.

Has there ever been anyone who had a worse day than Job, who lost more in such a short time? In his March 4, 2020 devotion, Michael Card reflected on this catastrophe and wrote:

“It is vitally important to really hear the first two words of chapter 1, verse 20.  They say it all.  “At this,” it reads, Job got up, tore his robe, and shaved his head.  These were the prescribed, cultural things he knew and could do without thinking in his numbed state.  They would have been expected of his by his community.  For the lack of a better term, Job made the motions of entering into mourning.
What he does next, however, is totally unexpected, even unimaginable.  Until this moment nothing remotely like it has happened in the Bible.  Till now Job has responded as he should have, as he was expected to respond, as you and I would probably respond.  What he does next seems unthinkable, almost impossible.
“Then he fell to the ground in worship.”

What would my reaction have been to such an event? I will never be as rich as Job or have as many children, but I get a hint at my reaction when little “disasters” hit me. Is my first reaction to fall on the ground in worship? No, not even close.

We will all have bad days but I doubt any of them will be worse than Job’s worst day ever. How will we react to them?

PRAYER: God, help us to keep perspective and remember that You deserve to be worshipped at all times, but that perhaps we need to turn to you in worship the most when our times are the hardest. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>