Christmas Reflections

I’m thinking about the melody of God’s glory in our souls. How sometimes I, or someone near me, can not hear the melody, but only hear the pounding of one note because it so dominates and overwhelms them, me, us — at the time. And this one note demands to be heard: I’M SICK, I’M LOST, I’M HURT, I’M CONFUSED, I’M HEARTBROKEN, I’M SAD, I’M POOR, I’M HURTING, I’M IN PAIN, I AM CRUSHED!!! And it pounds in our brains, and reinforces itself in its grip on us– drowning out all other sounds, and words of comfort from others. This pain is MINE, and it’s REAL, and it HURTS, and I am UNDONE, and ALONE in it. And I am very sure no one has ever felt this bad before. OH GOD! DO YOU CARE? WHERE ARE YOU? WILL YOU HELP ME?

And in His merciful and gracious way, God turns toward me and hears my cry for help. At first, I can recognize His response to my cry when I notice that the pounding one note of my pain is becoming softer. Still a throbbing of my soul, but I can begin to hear other sounds. And my mind experiences a pause from the relentless, repetitive announcement of distress and I am aware that I now have room there to consider another, different thought. To begin to hear another note or two, the beginnings of a melody. And this melody, these notes are such that for a brief moment I feel hope. A faint melody of hope that God still cares, still loves me, can see past this desperate point of pain to a place of relief, of healing, of redemption, of forgiveness, of wholeness and wellness. OH GOD, IS THAT YOU? Is it possible? I’ve had this pain so long. I’ve owned it. It’s owned me. Will You help me turn it loose and believe, even for a minute, that there is a tomorrow that is better than today? Lord, what was that tune again?

Pain is strong, and so is grief. But the persistent powerful presence of God’s Holy Spirit redeems and heals even these. Once we’ve heard the distant melody of hope. Once we’ve reawakened in our faith, or faith is newborn in us, or someone lends us faith, and we begin to listen intently to God’s melody, His voice, His words to us, it seems we can breathe again, with long sighs, as if for the very first time. And we find ourselves hungry for hope — the presence of God. He lovingly draws us to Himself, enveloping our mangled hearts in His warm embrace.

He leads me to His words in Psalms, and while there I discover that others have worn down this same path and even left the words of MY experience on these pages. The words ring true because they are real. But the wonderful gift in these pages is the growing awareness of who God is, and where He was, and is in my pain. He is tender Shepherd and Wonderful Savior, Beautiful Savior. I am not alone, I am not unloved, I am not rejected, I am not crushed forever, I am not forgotten or abandoned, I am not who my critics say I am, I am not banished from God’s presence, I don’t have to be afraid, to despair, to give up. Because I am His! And He is mine!

And the melody is stronger now. And no longer simply a melody, but harmony now, and instruments, and chorus, in splendid beauty announcing the melody of hope in a symphony of the glory of God! And the sound resonates and reverberates in my very soul, and I want to join them in singing now…..OH GOD, MY FATHER, You are:
REDEEMER
MY FORGIVENESS
MY SHELTER
SHIELD
FAVOR AND HONOR
SHEPHERD
BREAD
REFUGE
FORTRESS
FAITHFUL GOD
RESURRECTION AND LIFE

And I realize as God redeems my pain that His glory is seen most clearly against the backdrop, the canvas of my brokenness.

The orchestra and chorus are now in full-throated ecstasy of the glory of God:
the glory of Jesus Christ in His love to my unloveliness;
the glory of His grace to my unworthiness;
the glory of the Cross to my helplessness.

And now my pain and grief is a distant memory in this moment against the splendor and majesty of this symphony of God’s glory resounding through my mind and body, and spirit. And with it the awareness of God’s absolute sufficiency in supplying HOPE and HEALING and FORGIVENESS and REDEMPTION and RESTORATION and PEACE. And this awareness is my conscious thought that lingers in my brain while it waits on the long slumbering emotion of joy to join it which opens the fountains of healing balm that bathes my brain and makes its’ way throughout my body. And at the same time I am pressed down by the heavy hand of God’s presence, I am lifted high as my spirit soars within me. And the orchestra is now playing a tune I recognize as these words come to my lips…..

MY HOPE IS BUILT ON NOTHING LESS
THAN JESUS’ BLOOD AND RIGHTOUSNESS.
I DARE NOT TRUST THE SWEETEST FRAME
BUT WHOLY LEAN ON JESUS’ NAME.

ON CHRIST, THE SOLID ROCK, I STAND.
ALL OTHER GROUND IS SINKING SAND.
ALL OTHER GROUND IS SINKING SAND.

And my soaring spirit tells my feet and legs to stand me up in the presence of my glorious God and Father, and bask in the warmth and wonder of this melody of hope and symphony of His glory He has composed on the backdrop of brokenness and pain that once was all I could hear.

PSALM 40
I waited patiently for the Lord;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me up out of the horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay;
He set my feet on a rock
And gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
A hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
And put their trust in the Lord.

If your song is silence, and the melody of hope is a distant memory, cry out to God today. He’s waiting to meet you in the honest place of your pain and redeem everything that has been lost and broken. It’s who He is. It’s why He came.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him IMMANUEL. (Isaiah 7:14) Matthew adds “IMMANUEL — which means, ‘God with us.'” (Matt. 1:23).

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