July 23, 2009

Overflowing, Overwhelming

Posted in Devotionals, Hymns / Songs / Lyrics, Prayer Request tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:28 am by Sarah Bosse

Perhaps it is by God’s design, which is too great for me to understand, that my life seems to often be “overflowing” with one thing or another. Sometimes I soar on the wings of eagles high above all the worrisome mountain-molehills of my life. Other times I feel I’m drowning in the depths of the deepest and remotest sea.

Tonight is one of those deep sea diving experiences. I’ll list only a few reasons for the drowning: My dog will be put down tomorrow, and tonight is his last night living (which leads to lots of thinking); I’m in considerable pain tonight which keeps me awake; I’m utterly exhausted; I’m essentially unemployed; I’m having car problems; I have no answers; I’m simply tired. It all reminds me of a country song.

But while I feel my heart is overflowing with sadness and exhaustion, I also know that God wants me to overflow with rejoicing in Him. It’s once again time to put into practice what I know to be true. It is time to put my hope and trust again in the Word of my Lord. The battle is on; it belongs to the Lord, but I’m His little warrior, empowered by His Mighty Spirit.

Isaiah 50:10 Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys the voice of his servant?
Let him who walks in darkness
and has no light
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on his God.

11 Behold, all you who kindle a fire,
who equip yourselves with burning torches!
Walk by the light of your fire,
and by the torches that you have kindled!
This you have from my hand:
you shall lie down in torment.

For Isaiah 50:10-11, the ESV Study Bible footnotes read thus:
“Isaiah defines the two responses to the servant of the Lord:
(1) Fear the Lord by obeying the voice of his servant, trusting him even in the darkness of this life.
(2) Kindle the false light of one’s own wisdom, but then lie down in torment forever (cf. Prov. 16:25 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”).”

“Lord, that’s me; I’m in darkness right now. I want to fear you and obey Your voice, Lord. But I don’t know which way to turn, where to go, how to deal with this situation. Everything seems so dark right now. Help me!”

He answers me, “The way looks dark to you, but I want you to trust in me; trust in my Name, which is a reflection of my character. I am your God. Don’t think of yourself as wise in your own eyes! Your wisdom is false – it is deception – trust in me alone!”

Another wave of grief, exhaustion, and pain sweeps over me like a raging river. And in response, the Lord brings Psalm 34. I am revived with joy and gratitude that overflows like a rushing tide, pushing back the raging river of woe.

Psalm 34
34:1 I will bless the Lord at all times;
At all times, Lord, help me to praise You!
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Even as the waves sweep over my head, let me sing to You.
2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
I.E. not in itself/myself.
let the humble hear and be glad.
Please make me humble and glad.
3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I want to share this joy with others!

4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Yes, ALL OF THEM.
5 Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
The action I’m called to – “look to Him.”
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
He has delivered me from fear to faith.

8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
Look at all the riches I’ve received through Christ Jesus!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
These spiritual blessings can’t be taken away.
….
15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
Because of Christ’s righteousness accredited to me, the Lord hears me.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
Save those who are perishing, Lord!
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
The Lord will not forget me. Come quickly, Lord!

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
“Many”. But all are sovereignly ordained and purposefully designed.
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
…like I said… for my good and His glory.
20 He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
I’ve had a lot of broken bones in a physical sense, but I think He’s talking about spiritual bones, the spiritual skeleton. A bruised reed He will not break. The Lord may break us physically and emotionally so that we depend on Him spiritually, and therefore are strengthened.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
That means He will redeem my life, a mystery to me, for which I must trust Him.
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
Sounds like a good deal!

After a few minutes, my thoughts drift back to the circumstances of the past few weeks, then months, then years. I’m again overwhelmed by the trials that feel so big. Isaiah 40 pops into my mind. I know the last few verses well enough to easily paraphrase them. But what is the context behind those verses? I decide to go for broke and read the whole chapter, but for time’s sake, I’ll start a few verses in. The header reads, “The Greatness of God”.

Isaiah 40
9 Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
I should be shouting this to my soul; “Behold your God, o my soul! Behold your God!”
10 Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
May this be my comfort…
and his recompense before him.
…and my warning.
11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.
You carry me when I’m too weak to walk any farther. Thank you!

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
Um…not I.
13 Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord,
or what man shows him his counsel?
Um…again, not I.
14 Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?
Certainly not I!
15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
and are accounted as the dust on the scales;
behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.
16 Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,
Even the great cedars of Lebanon aren’t enough.
nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
Still! not enough.
17 All the nations are as nothing before him,
they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.
Only the sacrifice of Christ is “enough”.
….
21 Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
23 who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.
He’s in CONTROL (and I’m not).
….
25 To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
The Lord will be compared with no one.
26 Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
and because he is strong in power
not one is missing.

27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Have I said that? Oh, yeah, you’re right…I have…(“God doesn’t care about me.”)…(cringe).
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
Sounds like I should listen up! Here come the promises!
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Well, I definitely meet the criteria for “faint, having no might, youth fainting and weary, exhausted, etc…” so I guess I also meet the criteria for receiving “power, increased strength, renewed strength, flying like an eagle, running and walking with extra energy.” Even better, however, is the fact that the strength given is strength to finish the course.

Acts 20 comes to mind, the words of Paul to the Ephesian elders:
“22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

And this is the strength given to me by my Great God who formed and upholds all of creation. The Great God, who will not stand to be compared to any other, gives me His strength. This is the strength I have with which to continue the fight, the race, the course planned out for me by my Father.

As if these spiritual promises were not enough, I also know that I will, in the more physical and tangible sense, receive the literal strength promised in Isaiah 40 when I go to meet Him in heaven. I may have to wait for that, but the spiritual promises I receive even now through the Comforter, who is the Spirit of God.

Finally, the Spirit reminds me of His command to “fear not” and His wonderful reasons why I should not (though He need not provide a reason – just the command should be enough – but He knows my weaknesses too well, and in grace provides reasons for why I should not fear as I trust in His goodness). The reminder came in the form of a song that God had me write a few weeks ago to Isaiah 43.

Isaiah 43: Fear Not, You Are Mine
by Sarah M. Bosse

Fear not, for I’ve redeemed you;
I’ve called you by my name, and you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
When you forge the rivers, you’ll not be overwhelmed.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be consumed.

For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
x2

You are precious in my eyes; adored and loved.
I gave my life for you; my only Son.
Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring you through.
I called you by my name, for My glory you were made.
I know your frame; I know how you’re made.

For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
x2

Fear not, Fear not, Fear not, Fear not.
For you are mine, you are mine, you are mine,
You are mine, you are mine.

And there you have it; the fight for hope in God as it happened yesterday and today (I began writing this blog post yesterday but ran out of energy to finish it). I want to encourage you to keep fighting. When you feel overwhelmed, when grief and sadness and pain seem to overflow in your life…fight for hope that can flood out the greatest sorrow with faith and freedom from fear. Your Lord paid for it all; these promises you’ve read about here did not come to us free! No, friends; we were enemies of God and entitled only to the full and terrifying wrath of God for our rebellion and hatred of Him. The only way we can now receive God’s great and precious promises is through the blood of our perfect Savior who died for us on the cross and was resurrected by the Father, completing the payment for our justification before God. He paid that price that we could not pay, taking the wrath of God that we deserved upon Himself and giving us the favor that He had earned. So give Him your heart today and give Him your praise and your trust. He is happy to give you the fruit of His promises as you trust and obey. There is no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.

Sarah Bosse

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2 Comments »

  1. Matt Promise said,

    Sarah,

    Here are some wonderful promises that I find most comforting to meditate upon when I am discouraged:

    “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:25-26)

    “But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, That I may declare all Your works.” (Psalm 73:28)

    “ZAYIN Remember the word to Your servant, Upon which You have caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.” (Psalm 119:49-50)

    “The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble.” (Psalm 9:9)

    “A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:1-4)

    “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2)

    “I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, For You have considered my trouble; You have known my soul in adversities,” (Psalm 31:7)

    “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)

    “To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. A Song for Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;” (Psalm 46:1-2)

    “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” (Psalm 50:15)

    “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55:22)

    “As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him.” (Psalm 103:13)

    “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)

  2. Emily said,

    sarah, thank you. i’m sitting here in tears. today has been so overwhelming. work was hard. my bosses are questioning the time i’ve had to take off work lately. but i’m finally able to keep down food again! 🙂

    i am too exhausted to go to care group. a friend stopped by with dinner because the thought of cooking just made me want to cry. i’m lying in bed with no plans to move… at least not until tomorrow. and then i decided to read your blog.

    God knew i needed this tonight. thank you. thanks for your encouragement.

    and Matt… thanks for sharing those verses… i needed those too. 🙂


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