For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
    So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal.
    ~2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How to Bless God When Life Sucks

I like to sing. Give me 40 minutes of singin' and only 20 minutes of preachin' any Sunday. Or maybe 50/10.

A friend once shared a story about how a man in her church was quite offended by the song, "Blessed Be Your Name," written by Matt Redman. Wasn't a worship song. Wasn't uplifting. Had no place in the church. Ouch! There's a bitter porcupine. My friend said, "Reminds me of me. How I'd rather not let God into the hurting places in my life. I'd just like to lock Him out and only acknowledge him in the good stuff. Seems like it would be the other way around, but for me it's not."

Boy, did she relate to me.

When I found out I was pregnant with baby #5, I wasn't the least bit excited. In fact, I'd say I was majorly ticked off. ANGRY. Well, one Sunday morning for some reason, hubby needed me to fill in for the guy who normally worked the Power Point/Media Shout for the music during first service morning worship. I figured doing it would give me something to focus on instead of worshiping a God I was ticked off at.

The first two songs were no problem. Then "Blessed Be Your Name" came on.

See, I was okay with blessing God when "when the sun's shining down on me, when the world's 'all as it should be," but I certainly didn't want to bless, praise, honor, glorify Him when I was "on the road marked with suffering." Not that being pregnant was suffering, but being pregnant when I didn't want to be certainly felt like suffering to me. So I could freely say there was "pain in the offering," pain in blessing His name that I felt it was easier to stay angry at God.

Call me crazy, but I'm a pain avoider. I didn't like to hurt for myself so why would I want to hurt for God?

Not long after Child #5 was born, I participated in the Beth Moore ESTHER Bible study. During week four's video session, Beth talked about fear. She said, "We can protect ourself right out of our callings." Boy, do I know how to do that with my writing. But God didn't want me to focus on my shallow writing fears. He decided to smack me upside the heart with my deepest fear. Eventually. Here's what I wrote in my notes:

"Courage is when you look _______ in the face. Don't deny it. Deny it's victory over you. You may be one brave decision away from a new path--from your calling, destiny. The #1 command in the Bible: DO NOT BE AFRAID. We all cherish fear so closely that we can shed it even when told to. Psalm 138:8. Can you imagine living without fearing _______? Do you believe a good week is only a happy accident? Proverbs 31. Most of what we fear will never happen to us. Although this is true, Satan will keep threatening us with it over and over again. WHAT IF is an acronym for I FEAR."

In the listener guide, Beth wrote this: "And if _________, then God will take care of me." She challenged us to find what that ______ was in our lives. What did we fear on a daily basis? What even was our deepest, most crippling fear?

Ladies all over the room were in tears. Not me. I was, well, kinda peturbed.

How was I gonna confront my deepest fear if I didn't know what it was. Driving across a bridge. Heights. Swimming in a lake, river, or ocean where human-eating fish live. And so on. But those are only fears I have for to garner sympathy. I don't really fear those things. Well, maybe I do the fish.

So I told my friend Tanya as we were leaving the classroom (paraphrasing here), "I feel abnormal because I don't have any crippling fears. Surely I have a fear. A real fear. In fact, this week I'm gonna pray that God shows me a real fear. Ooh, I'm excited!" I won't describe the "look" she gave me.

Three days later...NOTHING. Still no fear.

I even complained to my husband. I'm sure he thought I was abnormal for wanting a fear. I was considering pondering the very idea that perhaps maybe I was abnormal. Not but a day after I'd decided to live with my disappointment in not having a fear to conquer in Jesus' name, God opened my eyes. He played a song on my heart. Then again, it could have been on the radio.

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

I had a fear. A real fear. Getting pregnant when I didn't want to be. I remembered the anger I had at God when I realized I was pregnant with #5. That was not the fear I'd wanted to face. I figured God would show me I had a fear of creepy crawly things or not making it to the potty quick enough when I was in the middle of Wal-Mart. I wanted a cool fear.

I had to pray my way though the song, though my fears, though my lack of trust in God knowing what was best for me. I had to reach a point where I could say "If I got pregnant again, God WILL take care of me and I WILL be okay."

So I'm back to where I was when I walked out of the Esther video session four: happily relishing my fake fear of driving on bridges and swimming where the human-eating fish live. Boy, does it feel nice.

Love the song? Listen to it HERE

"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

To read more about Matt Redman's inspiration behind the song, click here.

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