Day 3 • Getting Lost in His Sovereignty • Writing A List Of Gratitude
Focus your heart in worship by listening to this song:
Gain heart focus by praying Scripture out loud:
Why are you so quiet, God? I praise you but still there are mouths that speak evil about me. Do you see the words of hate? I am so very needy. I know you see my trail. Help me, Lord! Save me as your word promises you will. Let others know that you are my God and you have put your hand to the work of my rescue. Help me so that my mouth will give thanks to you even in this hardship.
Adapted from Psalm 109
I keep lists. But not the kind that I should.
If you’ve ever wounded my heart, your name is on a list that should never have been written. There in my heart. Tucked away. A list of the badness of others. (I’m working on erasing it for good. I really am.)
I also keep a list of my goodness. That list is longer than it should be. The title of author that I dreamed of as a little girl, the missions work in Zambia to fight AIDS, my TED Talk—oops, there it goes. My brag list shows itself. That one I do not keep tucked away, but parade for all to see and I find myself wondering if I do what I do for Jesus’s name. Or mine.
A third list doesn’t contain names or titles. Just events. Bad ones. Last year I kept a list of all the bad things that happened to me. It was about three months longer than I could handle and I sunk under the waves of faithlessness for just a bit.
Do you keep lists like this?
What would be on your list of bad things that have happened lately?
I sat with a girl who waited and waited (in every respect) for her Prince. He came, but not forever. He left. And left her broken and used.
Then there was the girl whose baby sister died. Just didn’t wake up.
And the one whose Dad ruined all their lives with porn. He was behind prison bars. They were behind bars made of judgement and stigma.
Once those lists get started, we have no trouble helping them get longer. We strike a martyrs pose as fast as any little disaster strikes us.
Would it help to know that keeping these lists is human nature? And the Super Apostle Paul (he called himself that—maybe on his brag list) kept several different kinds. Here’s one:
Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; II Corinthians 11:23-25
I’m thinking that my list of hardships isn’t so hard after all. But I cried a lot in 2013. And the Bible says that God catches every tear we cry in a bottle. It’s not a liquid recycling program. Picture instead a father cupping his hand and tenderly catching the tear of his little girl with one finger…as if that might stop the hurt. God does that. For me. For you.
And still, he is God. He could stop the suffering of our hearts.
Why doesn’t he?
I have learned that it is so we can truly know him.
“that I may know him and share in his sufferings becoming like him in his death.”
(Phil. 3:10 ESV)
The Greek word for “know” in this verse is ginosko. It’s Hebrew counterpart is the much-written about word yada that I love so much. (Well, I’ve written about it much. Others not so much.) It’s used to refer to the intimate act of sex between man and wife… and the intimate act of knowing God. Each useage of it is circled in my Bible, but this one is special. Different from the others. Doesn’t find the knowing in playfulness, giggles, joy, and pleasure. Quite the opposite, this one finds itself smack in the middle of suffering.
Honeymoon sex is playful and fun and full of promise and excitement. It’s intimate, but you don’t yet fully know your lover. It’s new, unfamiliar, just-learning-to-know sex.
Not until tragedy strikes and the hard things come will you truly find yourself knowing the one you marry. For then, you know what they are made of. And they know what is in you. This is the knowing. And in these days sometimes come the touching that is tender and full of hope and capable of healing. It’s the I’m-still-here, I’ll-never-leave, and I-really-know-you sex.
Is it a mistake that God uses this word? This I’m-still-here and I’ll-never-leave intimacy word to describe the fellowship of his suffering? No mistake at all.
Jesus wants you to know what he’s made of. He can handle this. He can get you through. He’s enough.
At the end of my hard year, I sat down to write a list. A new kind of list. The right kind. All the reasons I could thank him for my hard hurts.
“Thank you that you are the Great Physician and you know what’s wrong even if the doctor’s don’t.”
“Thank you that though I lost my sweet dog, she never lived a day sick before she left.”
“Thank you that my husband is still alive.”
“Thank you that I found some humility I didn’t know that I had.”
“Thank you for giving us faithful friends when some weren’t.”
“Thank you ….”
My list was pages and pages long. Written with tears of joy as I was finally able to see Him…hear Him…and let His touch come to my weary heart. My eyes were changed to see that His soveriegnty can be trusted. I don’t think it always pleased him, but the things he chose for my life in 2013 were for the best. I can see that now. Now that I have the list. The one that I should have been writing all along.
Do you need to write a new list?
A Note From Your Love
I’m on your side. When you feel tossed around and like no one is, I am. When your reputation is assaulted and you feel ganged up upon, I am here. I kept track of every toss and turn in your bed when you could not sleep for the blinding pain. And I kept every tear in a bottle. I’m going to do everything I promised you I would. In invite you to walk with me and trust me.
(Based on Psalm 56)
Write Your Story
Write your list. You know the one.
If you have enjoyed this devo-style “feast” today, consider getting a copy of my latest release, “Get Lost: Your Guide To Finding True Love.” Included in the pages of the book is a ten-day Love Feast, and we offer a free on-line video talk show for groups to enjoy the feast together.