Tag Archives: dealing with loss

The Dirty Gospel : Hope and Disappointment

I think it is impossible to talk about the Dirty Gospel without talking about hope.

” Those who hope in Me will not be disappointed.” – Isaiah 49:23

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I don’t know about you, but hope and disappointment seem to go hand in hand for me. In fact, journeying with God is basically one big “hope”.

hope – to expect with confidence (Merriam Webster)

Hope elevates and stabs simultaneously. It is the desire for something to come. An unfulfilled dream, promise or destiny. But along the way we get weary.

I take God at His word only to begin to wonder if He has forgotten what He said. I hoped for a healthy baby. But I got depression instead. Bethany shared her hope for God to do something big, but she got a child with special needs and a husband with stage 4 cancer.   

I hoped for God to meet my need, but He isn’t fair. In the dark nights and wild days we hope that God will be there. We pray He doesn’t disappear. 

We are all hoping for something. Maybe it is family, finances, health, freedom from addiction, self-confidence, or a grand dream in your heart.

In the Bible we look at Abraham who believed “hope against hope” and all that. But this doesn’t feel like some great sermon illustration. It’s my life. It just feels like waiting. The days turn into months…turn into years. And still I am left hoping.

At some point doubt creeps in all of us. What did we do wrong? Is God punishing me for something? At what point do I throw in the towel? Hope hurts because we have to believe.

We begin to wonder if we sound ridiculous. ” I know that we have prayed for 5 years, but my son is going to be healed” , “God promised a wife for me. I know that someone is coming” , “Sure, this economy is bad. But God said to start this business”. Hope hurts because we have to risk.

We are forced to revisit disappointment over and over. Fight off discouragement and bitterness at unfulfilled desires. Our best efforts start to fall short. Rallying enough inner fight we face another day. Praying that this is the year of breakthrough. Hope hurts because it is exhausting. 

Usually when hope reaches the point of pain, we have been in the fight for years. Our resources and lives have been spent. Placing everything we are on the promise that God will be faithful. We make decisions on the premise that our hope will be fulfilled and our hearts will no longer be left wanting. Hope is all we have left, because we let go of everything else. Hope hurts because it is all on the line.

Our ability to control outcomes is removed. Circumstances and environments are not interpreted with worldly wisdom. Often we don’t know what else to do but stand where we are. Praying that God moves something somewhere.

Facing a mountain range with a cardigan and sandals. Unprepared in the natural to tackle the spiritual. Abilities and carnal strength are no match for the promise. Our fleshly nature dies. Hope hurts because it kills us.

That is where the Dirty Gospel comes in. It reaches into my disappointment and reminds me why I hope. When I am too stubborn to look up, Jesus comes in after me. He gently pulls my face upword. Where my help comes from. Where my hope comes from.

I hope because despite the immediate situation, I know something more of Jesus. I understand the comfort of a generous Savior.

I hope because when there is nothing left in me there is always more of God.

Disappointment distracts us from the dream. Hope reminds us to endure until we reach the promise. —> click to tweet.

 We cry in the process, but are ALWAYS victorious. In my need He is glorified and I am satisfied. I hope because this Gospel may be dirty sometimes, but it is always true. The One who makes the promise is the One who keeps the promise.

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The Dirty Gospel : When God Disappears

IMG_5124We are well on our way into the Dirty Gospel series. If you are new here, grab your coffee and catch up on loss & depression, a severe mercy, and why I believe God is not fair.

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This is a picture of my living room and in many ways what my relationship with God feels like sometimes. It is empty and God is not to be found. Sure, there are reminders like boots on the floor that He is here somewhere, but I can’t see Him.

Back in college it seemed that God was everywhere I looked. His voice sounded so near and His presence was unmistakably close. I didn’t have to look for Him. He was just everywhere. I have had other times in my life since then that God has been beyond evident. I love those seasons where I can feel God with me.

But, something happens between those obvious moments with God. He seems to disappear…God hides.

Sure, He is around still. I just can’t find Him.

I read the Bible and it feels dry. I pray and can’t seem to go more than two sentences before I completely loose my train of thought due to disengagement. God’s voice begins to feel more like a rumor than a reality.

Is this some cruel joke? Did God manipulate my emotions and then check out?

What used to be endless journaling trying to catch all the dreams God was putting in my heart turned into blank pages with nothing to be written. God is silent.

These dips in my relationship with God used to throw me for a loop. I would get confused and doubtful if anything I had previously experienced had been real. How could I depend on a God that seems bi-polar at times. Is God flakey?

I’ve come to discover that these silent moments where God appears to be missing are when the Gospel does a deep work in me. I need the “highs” with God, but I need the depth too.

Experiencing God produces a desire for Him, seeking God produces faith in Him. —> click to tweet

When God disappears, I have to make deliberate and non-emotional steps to seek Him. My faith becomes stronger and there is a steadfastness that builds up like a deep anchor in my soul. I learn how to believe that He is with me when I cannot see Him.

I need that skill on weeks like this one. My friend Stevie died of brain cancer. Our adoption hit a new snag and it appears to be delayed even longer…

Times like these, I am thankful that God seems to disappear from time to time. I have learned the defining truth that when I seek Him I will find Him. I will find Him late in the night when I don’t think I have what it takes to obey what He is asking of me. I will find Him in the pain that seems unbearable.

The Gospel is dirty because it makes us dig deeper into the scary, painful and fearful places. And in that process of digging we realize that God has actually never left.

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The Dirty Gospel: Loss & Depression

Welcome to week # 2 of The Dirty Gospel series. This week I am talking about finding God in loss.

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I was in drinking lemonade in Egypt the day he died. I was 16 and on a trip to Africa with my dad.

We were never supposed to be in Egypt anyway. The plane leaving Amsterdam had to make an emergency landing due to engine failure. We missed our connection in Egypt so we were put up in a casino for four days until we could get another flight further into the interior of Africa.

I remember walking into our hotel lobby where my dad pulled me aside.

He told me how my mother had called the hotel to deliver the news. My friend Jeremiah had been killed by a drunk driver. The car was turning into Jeremiah’s driveway when a drunk driver slammed into them. Jeremiah didn’t make it.

I cried. I felt lost. I missed the funeral because I spent the next two weeks in Sudan.

Fast forward a decade and many more grieving moments. I was pregnant with my second child.

Sophie was just about 18 months old at the time. We always knew we wanted another child, and here the sweet baby was! Unlike Sophie, this pregnancy had me sick night and day. It was terrible.

But it got worse.

When I went to the doctor she was unable to find the heartbeat. We should wait a week and come back we were told. Just in case the baby wasn’t as far along as we originally thought. Friends, family and our church rallied around and prayed that God would do a miracle and and a little heart would start beating…thump, thump…thump, thump. It didn’t. God didn’t perform a miracle. The baby was gone.

At 11 weeks, I lost our baby. My terrible morning sickness continued for several weeks until my body recognized that there was no longer a pregnancy.

In the months to follow, I had post-partum depression. I wasn’t mad about the miscarriage, I wasn’t even sad at the time. I felt nothing. Not a single thing. A veil just went between myself and everything around me. I played with Sophie, talked with friends, did all the normal things…but I wasn’t really there. I had couldn’t rally my emotions back into gear.

I didn’t know that a miscarriage could cause post-partum depression. I just thought I was “off”.  Thankfully my hormones leveled out and after three months I was back to my old self. But those were rough days. Lost days to be honest. I know what I experienced was a very mild compared to what a lot of people with depression go through.

( If you are dealing with depression, I’d encourage you to visit your doctor. )

The days after the death of Jeremiah and after the loss of my baby felt so thin. I was holding on by a string. A very small string.

Where was God when Jeremiah died and the days after the loss of my child? He was filling my jar.

There is a story in 1 Kings 17 about a widow who only has enough oil and flour to make a final meal for herself and her son. Their provisions were so meager the plan was to eat their last meal together and then die of starvation.

But God stepped in. He filled their flour and their oil so it didn’t run out.

In those days of my loss and post-partum depression, God was refilling my oil. If I had been the widow I would have wanted a stocked pantry. Maybe a goat or two. But, God let the oil and flour be enough to sustain them.

In that season I wished God would have let my situation be easier. Given me all the things I felt like I was lacking in those moments. He didn’t. He simply multiplied what little I had so that it sustained me.

The days were messy, numb and confusing. Unknown to me I was in the middle of the Dirty Gospel.

God didn’t clean up my mess, He found me in it. And He never let go.

Yes, the situations got better. However, in the middle of those teary and numb moments there was something of God that I learned.

When what I have is not “enough” to sustain me, God comes. And He makes it enough.–> click to tweet

This realization that I can have “enough” in the middle of my complete lack has allowed me to develop a faith I have needed. Not just a faith to make it through the challenging moments. The kind of faith that enables me to chase dreams I have no business chasing.

That is the power of the Dirty Gospel. It replaces the need for perfect circumstances with the need for a perfect God. —> click to tweet.

Have you found God in a place of loss? I would love to hear your stories or thoughts in the comments.

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