DayBreaks for 10/02/19 – God’s Heaviest Grief

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DayBreaks for 10/02/19: God’s Heaviest Grief

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

Have you ever known someone who had tremendous potential, but they squandered their opportunities pursuing meaningless things? Perhaps you look back at your own life with a certain measure of regret for “what might have been.”  There isn’t a one of us who can’t look back at our past and say that about one thing or another.  Not one. 

On the other hand, there are others who seemingly have nothing going for them – ordinary men and women – who manage to achieve incredible things.  Mother Theresa was so small physically, and not greatly educated, but has there been anyone in the 20th century who made a bigger impact on people and the world than she did?  Maybe, but not many.  Einstein was a mail clerk, for Pete’s sake.  He wasn’t an educated mathematician or physicist to start with.  In fact, he was singled out by his early teachers and being too dumb to learn.  Yeah, right!!!

So it is that we see this paradox: there are those we’d never suspect who shake the very foundations of the world, and those who we believe could make a huge difference – but they wind up wasting their lives and talent.  When the funerals come around for both the wasters and the achievers, they will all be nice funerals and nice things will be said.  But not all that is said will likely be true. 

The Christian writer, A. W. Tozer, once said, “A man by his sin may waste himself, which is to waste that which on earth is most like God.  This is man’s greatest tragedy and God’s heaviest grief.”

Well put, don’t you think?  We were made by God to do things – to achieve, to create, to invent and to change and grow to be more like our Father.  Because we are made in his image, we are capable of magnificence with his help! And because we often don’t represent what God is like by our actions and when we waste the life that God has blessed us with it must deeply grieve Him!

How are you doing at becoming and achieving all the potential that God put into you and your DNA?  Have you wasted much of your life in the pursuit of the frivolous?  Do you have many regrets at opportunities you had but which you lost?  Why not turn all that around today and recommit yourself to becoming more like Him and to fulfill all that He’s put into your ability to become?  There is nothing that would give Him greater joy!

PRAYER: We are often too tired and lazy, Lord, to make much effort at becoming all You have gifted us and created us to be.  May we live up to the potential You have created in each one of us that we might bring You joy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 12/31/18 – How Closely He Listens

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DayBreaks for 12/31/18: How Closely He Listens

The brick wall. The deafening silence. The times when it seems our prayers ascend to nothingness and no one. We’ve all felt it. It isn’t a comfortable feeling for those who are believers, who proclaim that there is a God in heaven who is good and caring and notices us.

David marveled that the One who created the vast heavens (and David had no idea how vast they are – and to this day no one really knows for sure) was mindful of him. It is a bit difficult to believe when staring up into space while laying out under a canopy of stars on a dark night. How could He possibly even know I’m here, let alone care for me and know my every word before it’s spoken, my very thoughts before I think them?  And not just me – but everyone!?!?!?!?  Can God really be listening to me, hearing me when I mutter my hopes, dreams, pain and requests skyward?

Psalm 6:8 gives us the assurance we need, but we have to pay close attention. Here’s what David said: Psalm 6:6-8 (ESV) – I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.

What is it that God hears? The sound of weeping. Not of shrieking, wailing. When David just said he drenches his couch with his weeping he is using “weeping” in the sense of tears, not loud wailing. So David is saying that God is hearing the sound of his tears.

What sound does a falling tear make when it escapes the eye and moves down the face? It’s inaudible – but David says that God hears it. He is listening so closely to us that he can hear the sound of a tear escaping our eye. If we have ever doubted that God is a God of compassion, we need never question that fact.
If he hears your tears, he also knows your heartache. And as David concludes Psalm 6, he tells those who oppress him that they should start running now because God has heard his pleas and accepted his prayer – in short, God is moved to action on behalf of the one whose tears fall silently. He hears you.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for not just noticing us, but for listening so closely you can hear the silent tears that escape from the eyes of your children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 1/17/18 – God’s Face Streaked with Tears

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DayBreaks for 1/17/18: God’s Face Streaked with Tears

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2008:

This past week, our small town suffered a great loss.  A young girl, Courtney, was struck down at the tender age of 16 by Ewing’s sarcoma – a rare form of cancer.  She’d become somewhat of a “celebrity” (in a good sense) in our town for her valiant struggle for the past two years.  Her death has hit our town hard and made us all again aware of the presence of the last enemy that will someday be destroyed.

Perhaps my favorite chapter of the entire Bible is John chapter 11 – the story of the raising of Lazarus.  The emotion of the chapter is intense, the message precious. 

First of all, we need to realize that God is a Spirit.  Spirits don’t have eyes, arms, legs, backs or beards.  Spirits are, well…spirits.  Since I’ve never seen one, I can’t tell you what a spirit looks like, but they don’t have bodies per se.  And that complicated things for God.

When God wanted us to know what He was like, He couldn’t just come down in His Spirit and show us.  (I don’t even know if spirits are visible!)  And that’s why the incarnation was so critical.  For us to see God, we had to see something in the form of flesh and blood.  And that takes us to the story of Lazarus.

The shortest verse in the bible – you know it and can quote it – “Jesus wept.”  Perhaps that’s the shortest verse in Scripture because God knew that for the most part, we’re not very good at memorizing Scripture.  But I think it’s the shortest verse in Scripture for a different reason: God knew how important it would be to us so He made it a simple verse that we could remember.

As Jesus stood at the grave of his friend, Lazarus, John says that Jesus was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”  Unlike some political candidates or actors, the tears on Jesus’ face were real, just like ours.  They were no act.  They tasted salty, just like ours.  John saw those tears himself.  Think about that.  When Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, for what may have been the first and only time, humanity saw tears run down the face of God.  And it made such an impression on John that he kept it hidden in his heart until he wrote his gospel and shared it with us.

We needed to know that God weeps with us as we stand at the gravesite.  We need to know that He remembers what it felt like to see death take a loved one in its cold, clammy hands.  We need to know that God, with tears running down his face over what has become of His creation, steps forward at moments like that and says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” And we certainly need to know that as Jesus stands before the resting place of the dead – the most impenetrable fortress of all – he speaks: “Take away the stone.  Lazarus, come forth!” 

It says that those last words were spoken with a loud voice.  Jesus didn’t whisper into the darkness of the tomb, wondering if he could pull this off.  If he hadn’t been sure of his power to do what he was doing, he might have whispered the words where no one could hear – just in case it didn’t work out.  But he didn’t.  He shouted it out so that everyone would know that he held power over the fortress of death.

And as life returned to Lazarus, I feel sure that the tears disappeared from the face of God, to be replaced with smiles and laughter and eyes that sparkled with delight as his friend came forth from the tomb. 

When you weep – remember, God’s face has been streaked with tears.  He knows.  He understands. 

PRAYER: Oh, God, I’m so glad that You have tasted tears.  It is beyond precious that You chose to weep in front of us so that we would know Your love for us.  When we weep, remind us that You still know, You still feel, You still care.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 5/26/17 – A Proof of the Truth of Love

DayBreaks for 5/26/17: A Proof of the Truth of Love

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Tears.  Sorrow.  Grief.  Three words that we hope don’t come anywhere near us, for when they do they are always unwelcome visitors.  Would that life were always full of joy, happiness and laughter!  That is, after all, how God intended for life to be, and how it will someday again be for those who love Him! 

In the meantime, we are awaiting that revealing and dawning.  And as the ocean is full of water, so our lives are full of tears.  It doesn’t take much for me to cry.  I am sometimes embarrassed by my readiness to cry, wishing that I were more stoic, that perhaps things didn’t affect me as much.  Those are usually times when I am in a public situation, sometimes in the pulpit, or at the beside of a person in great pain and facing death. 

What can you say to someone who is crushed, broken hearted by loss or some great sorrow?  I know I struggle to find words.  They do, too.  They may be crying, and yet they still seem to be able to say, “I’m sorry for crying.”  I usually am quick to assure them that tears are not bad.  Jesus cried.  And I tell them that tears are a part of the language of love, for if we did not love, we would not weep with loss.

I found it interesting that my oldest son, Doug, was reflecting on this the other day in his blog, when he wrote: “Perhaps sorrow like this can be a kind of gift, too.  It is at least proof of the truth of love, and hope is never far from love.” (Doug Dalrymple, 5/10/07, The Scrivener)

The sorrow that produces weeping is a gift, for it reveals what is in our hearts, and if nothing else, surely it must be proof of the truth of a love that may have even gone unexpressed in happier times. 

Let your tears flow when you need to cry.  They are part of God’s heart, too.

PRAYER:  Lord, may we join in the weeping that comes from your heart for this broken and bloody world of darkness and loss.  May we weep unashamedly because of the love that you put into our hearts for You and those around us.  And may we also weep for our brokenness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 2/10/16 – The Tears He Wants

DayBreaks for 2/10/16: The Tears He Wants

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2006:

Luke 23:26-27 (NLT) – As they led Jesus away, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country just then, was forced to follow Jesus and carry his cross. Great crowds trailed along behind, including many grief-stricken women.

Some of the other translations say that the women who followed him as Jesus made his way through the streets of Jerusalem “mourned and lamented him.”  That means they were crying – and probably not a soft, barely audible sniffling and groaning.  Lamenting was loud.  It was accompanied by tears and shrieks and cries and the person gave vent to all that was in their hearts and the pain that was contained there. 

In the case of Jesus, the women weren’t weeping for themselves.  They were weeping for Jesus.  We would probably look at that scene and heartily approve of their tears and weeping.  We likely would have said it was only right that they should weep and lament Jesus.  What was happening was a travesty of justice.  What had happened – his beatings, the mockery, the scourging, the betrayals – had turned this lonely figure who stumbled down the streets into a bloody mess – and it had to be tremendously difficult for anyone who had known and loved him to witness what was happening.

But in the next verse, Jesus tells the women not to weep for him.  He says that their weeping is on target – but the cause was wrong.  He encourages them to weep for themselves – for they live in a world that is full of horror, all brought about by sin.  And so it is that Sigmund Brouwer wrote: It is easy to weep when we see Jesus with the cross.  But those are tears he does not want.  He wants us to cry for our sins.  He wants us to ask forgiveness. 

Point made.

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Lord, help us to weep first and foremost for our sin, the sin that caused You to walk beneath the weight of the beam and to stumble and fall on your way to Calvary.  Help us to seek your forgiveness, for that is what we need the most!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 3/19/15 – God Has Loved My Matthew

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DayBreaks for 3/19/15: God Has Loved My Matthew

Walter Wangerin is an American author and educator who is best known for his religious works and children’s books.  He has many delightful stories, but one in particular is very touching: “Matthew, Seven, Eight, and Nine” about how he tried to stop his son Matthew from stealing comic books. He tried various uses of the law over several years and continued to fail.

Finally, he resorted to something he rarely used: a spanking. He did it deliberately, almost ritualistically, and he was so upset when he finished that he left the room and wept. After pulling himself back together, he went in to Matthew and hugged him. A number of years later, Matthew and his mother were doing some general reminiscing, and Matthew happened to bring up the time when he kept stealing comic books. “And you know why I finally stopped?” he asked. “Sure,” she said, “Because Dad finally spanked you.” “No!” replied Matthew, “No, because Dad cried.”

Wangerin concludes with these words: “Hereafter, let every accuser of my son reckon with the mercy of God, and fall into a heap, and fail. For love accomplished what the law could not, and tears more powerful than Sinai. Even the Prince of Accusers shall bring no charge against my son that the Final Judge shall not dismiss. Satan, you are defeated! My God has loved my Matthew” (Walter Wangerin, Jr., The Manger Is Empty, pp. 116-132).

What the law can never do, love does.  And God weeps over us.

PRAYER: Jesus, I suspect that the tears you shed at Lazarus’ tomb were tears shed for all of us in our sinful and fallen state.  I am touched by your care for us and the love evidenced by your compassion toward us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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