Making Sense of All the Calamity (My Redeemer Lives 2:3)

Fear and failure never rear their ugly heads stronger than when the acid rain of life comes.

The “Why me-s?!” of life easily turn into “If I would have…” when we begin to feel pelted with life at its junkiest  — loss, humiliation, disappointment in humanity, the uphill climb. To avoid our fears, in a vague attempt to make sense of all the calamity of life in our own lives and around us, things like blame, bitterness, broken relationships, and isolation become realities that weigh heavy in our chests.

There is the story of a woman in 1 Kings 17:17-24 who couldn’t make sense of calamity. She lashed out. But God provided an answer…a resurrection kind of answer.

Read 1 Kings 17:17-24 –

17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!” 19 And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her arms and carried him up into the upper chamber where he lodged, and laid him on his own bed. 20 And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.” 24 And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”

Don’t miss verse 18 and verse 20. Both the woman and Elijah end up with questions for God:

“What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!”

And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?”

We always jump to look for sin when calamity comes – Who messed up? Was it me? Was it my spouse? Was it my friend?

This woman had a close connection to Elijah. In the very same chapter of 1 Kings in verses 8-16, immediately preceding the previous reading, the woman experiences an honest-to-goodness miracle through Elijah, acknowledging the might and power of the One True God  — food for many days, unspent oil, provision.

What was the problem then? What happened? Why this meeting of fear and faith in verses 18?

Asking questions during times we don’t understand is always a good start; let’s give the woman that. Fear and all the feelings of failure  — our own or that of others  — spoken is a lot less powerful in our lives. Questions are not the problem.

Matthew Henry puts it like this –

“Our mountain never stands so strong but it may be moved…”

The miracle, the provision is an important act of God. However, when we place our faith in the mountain, in only the tangible acts of God  — provision, stability, prophets and preachers, breath and life we can see in front of us  — we will be disappointed in what God offers time and again.

We end up looking at God and saying, “What the heck?! What is this? Which sin are You punishing me for?” We see ourselves as big enough to escape the destiny of a broken world, but then the mountain is moved and crushes our hope.

Instead, God offers us more in the Resurrection of Christ Jesus –

Hope that cannot be seen.

Romans 8:23-25:

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

We are all imperfect in our response to God, even Elijah. But God does not demand a perfect response. He answers Elijah and the widow with a promise, a foreshadowing –

3 times Elijah lays on the boy

3 days of death Jesus sat in a dark cavern

And then Life.

This story of Old Testament resurrection reminds us that our confidence is in things not seen, mountains of stability in the storm like the peace that passes all understanding, joy constant, and eternal Life today.

Our questions, our fears are met with answers in the Word of God, and in calamity we see Life because of the Resurrection.

Look for the Life. Think of a recent struggle of your own, or a report you have heard on the news. Where is God working Life? What promises of God remain despite it all? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

This is our resurrection God, making sense of calamity, bringing Life.

Afraid, Alarmed, Amazed – All Those Resurrection Emotions (My Redeemer Lives 2:1)

Emotions are often my best friends and my dirty rotten enemies, all within the same day.

I struggle with ups and downs, sideways movements, and hostage-like situations with glad, sad, mad, and just plain blah.

I was also once congratulated by a nurse during childbirth for my “amazing sense of self-control.” Probably my favorite compliment to date…ever.

So, which person am I? A happy one? A frustrated one? A self-controlled one?

I’m encouraged to know that it doesn’t work like that. I’m not defined by my output, my responses, or my reactions on any given day. If I’m honest, that’s one of my greatest fears — that people will see me, my family will see me, as the woman who lost it while cooking dinner, the woman who exudes joy but cries quietly in the bathroom when she gets a moment, the angry mom from last Tuesday.

Fear and failure are hulking realities in our lives. They cast a shadow on our days and our emotions often top the list of where we think we don’t measure up.

2 Timothy 1:7 is often quoted to aid our Christian walk-

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

When I hear this, my first thoughts are

“Get it under control, Heidi.”

Any time you share this as a meme or share across the table with a friend struggling with emotions, I would venture a bet that this is the message they hear,

“Get it under control.”

But God gives verses in context and that context is always the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Even our emotions are best understood in this context.

So let’s see today what power and message the resurrection has for all those emotions.

Read Mark 16:1-6 to discover more:

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.

“Do not be alarmed.”

This assumes obvious and vagrant emotions on the part of the women showing up at the tomb – shock, surprise, maybe fear, a mixture.

The Greek word for alarmed in Mark 16:6 is ekthambeisthe, from the root ekthambeó. It’s more closely related to awe and wonder than fear alone. Finding Jesus gone was a shock for these women. Finding an angel, a messenger of God in all his glory, still more shocking. I love that the Helps Word Studies at biblehub.com refers to the Greek text translation as being “out of one’s senses” because of what they saw, what they experienced, the shock of the reality of God’s intervention.

The parallel in Matthew 28:5-10 does directly reference fear though.

Matthew 28:5-

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.

The Greek here is phobeisthe from phobeó — withdraw in fear, flee, avoid —but also includes reverence. The words are different and have a different emphasis from the writers. But I think it’s safe to say that what the women experienced at the resurrection was a mixture of emotions

in reference to who they were based on what God can do, who God is.

When we recognize ourselves in relation to God, the power of God, God’s control, God’s perfection, when that’s what we hear on its own with no resurrection context in 2 Timothy 1:7, we will feel completely an utterly

insignificant.

Lost in a world of emotions and their hold on our spirits.

But the context of the resurrection overarching all we know and experience of God changes everything.

He does not define us by moments, by responses, by the angry mom on Tuesday versus the joyful woman in worship.

Jesus’ death and resurrection tells us that He sees us as significant.

His response does not change based on what we feel at the moment — shock, awe, sadness, joy, wonder, anger, fear.

The message of the angel to the women was not just “do not,” but also see who He is –

“He has risen; he is not here.”

Do not be alarmed, do not be afraid, there is no need. I think we read it wrong and out of context. God always reaches out, never pushes away, when Jesus stands as the intermediary. He sees our fear, our frustration, our astonishment and says, “Don’t separate yourself from me. Come in for a closer look.”

The resurrection invites us in for a closer look.

Read 2 Timothy 1:6-7, again-

 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

The knowledge of the resurrection, resurrection reality in our lives, fans into flame the gift — Christ in our hearts, the Spirit firing up in our souls.

It’s a gift. When we feel overwhelmed, out of our senses with emotions, we can go in for a closer look at God in His Word, be encouraged, be refreshed, and begin to sort it all out in a safe space at His feet.

Prepare to be astonished, amazed, a little afraid, but always significant, no matter the emotion — in His resurrection. What hope do you hear in Jesus reaching out to you in the midst of emotions? What promise does the resurrection hold no matter your state of mind?

You can download this Scripture card and one for every day of the week at PureJoyCreative.com.

Don’t forget this week’s Bible margin to help you reflect as you study.

 

*Greek study references at biblehub.com –

http://biblehub.com/greek/1568.htm

http://biblehub.com/greek/5399.htm

 

Join the discussion by sharing your thoughts and insights in the comments, here and on social media.

 

Catch the week two video here:

Feminine UpRising

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It’s a Journey – Written in Iron Ink: Weight Loss

I am never more amazed than when I get to sit down and hear the story of someone else’s journey.

Our journeys may look different from one another, but it’s amazing how God knits and weaves His purposes into every life, every journey.

On today’s podcast, I sit down and talk to Sara Borgstede at The Holy Mess about her journey of losing weight and learning new ways to organize and value her emotions. She also shares with us the challenges of setting goals and rewriting the messages she told herself along the way. In this conversation together, we’ll call out the cultural messages about food and body image, and firmly plant ourselves in the joy of relationships and grace that God gives to us along the way.

Sara shares insights around the Word with us and the wisdom that this journey from God is one of endurance; the race is steady, but sometimes can feel relentless, but He is also doing something New in our lives each day. Sara shares wisdom and insight discuss around two verses in particular— Hebrews 12:1-2 and Isaiah 43:19 :

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert. 

Do you hear the tension and the promise in each?

Sara offers her story to us, as well as her tips and encouragement for our own journey.

You can find Sara at

The Holy Mess

and

Faithful Finish Lines

Find the I Love My Shepherd: The Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher.