Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Outpourings: From Despair to Hope, Part II

How do you respond in seasons of despair?

Courtesy of

I have heard it said that our character is most clearly tested during times of hardship. Our reactions to difficulties are an indication of our heart.

Jeremiah knew that the destruction of Jerusalem was a direct result of the disobedience of the Israelites to God's commands. He also knew that God disciplined the Israelites--His chosen nation--for their ultimate good and His ultimate glory.

In Lamentations chapter three, Jeremiah continues by saying:

"27 And it is good for people to submit at an early age
to the yoke of his discipline:
28 Let them sit alone in silence
beneath the Lord’s demands.
29 Let them lie face down in the dust,
for there may be hope at last.
30 Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them
and accept the insults of their enemies.
31 For no one is abandoned
by the Lord forever."
According to Jeremiah, learning to submit to the Lord's intentional, loving discipline yields understanding, forgiveness and hope--all of which relate to our intimacy with the Lord, and how we walk with Him in the day to day.
Jeremiah tells of "good" ways to seek God through the tough seasons:
ONE: We choose solitude, stillness and smallness. Get alone. Sit still. Open up before the Lord, and as difficult and uncomfortable as it may seem, choose to be vulnerable before Him. God's sovereignty is realized when we make ourselves humble beneath His presence. A wonderful prayer is simply, "Come, Lord Jesus."
TWO: We choose repentence and humility. What would it look like to "lie facedown in the dust" before God? I struggle with this daily, as I pray for a greater realization of the gravity of my sins. Submitting to God during despairing times humbles us to our deep need for Him, and the hope He gives.
THREE: We choose meekness and forgiveness. Have you ever been hurt by someone? Boy, it feels terrible, and turning the other cheek is probably our last response. But accepting God's discipline during hard times also means laying aside our own desires in pursuit of His. Choosing submission to others, as well as a forgiving spirit, opens our eyes to see the magnitude of what Jesus gave to us--complete forgiveness.
"32 Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion
because of the greatness of his unfailing love.
33 For he does not enjoy hurting people
or causing them sorrow."
God loves us more than we will ever know. He even loves us through the bestowing of discipline! Rest assured that God yearns to show you compassion, each and every moment. God is our One Hope, for now and for eternity.
How else can you respond to God's discipline?

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