I won't bow to idols, I'll stand strong and worship You
And if it puts me in the fire, I'll rejoice 'cause You're there too
I won't be formed by feelings, I hold fast to what is true
If the cross brings transformation then I'll be crucified with You
'Cause death is just the doorway into resurrection life
And if I join You in Your suffering then I'll join You when You rise
And when You return in glory with all the angels and the saints
My heart will still be singing and my song will be the same
These are very strong statements. We think we mean it when we sing, but sometimes, when tested, it’s not what our life shows. For example, “if it puts me in the fire, I’ll rejoice 'cause you’re there too. If the cross brings transformation then I’ll be crucified with you" I'm not sure this would be the case for most professing Christians. We teach a lot about loving, avoiding sins, honor, and worship, but we lack instruction and study on how to suffer well. No one wants to suffer, so I feel like this is why we avoid the discussion and hope it never happens to us.
When my sweet daddy died, I had been in ministry for years, but I wasn't prepared for the test that would assault my faith. In my case, it wasn't his death exactly, but rather how he died, alone and isolated with Covid. We grew up with the gospel that the Lord has numbered our days and appointed all men a time to die. However, never once did I think my daddy would pass from this earth without all his family gathered around him, singing him into his appointed place in heaven. Instead, he was in a hospital bed, and we watched by phone or messages in his last days, unable to kiss his cheek or hold his hand. Nothing about this seemed fair or right for a man who had served God all his life. It rocked me to the very core. Satan hurled flaming arrows of doubt, anger, and bitterness at me constantly. The Lord would eventually walk me through emotions I never dreamed I would have. It was so powerful. He called me to write a book about how sometimes it's okay not to be okay. As Christians, we can push ourselves not to have feelings because we think that is showing a lack of faith when, in essence, it's expressing our humanness that needs a Savior. My book In the Deep Water is very detailed about the questions I had for God and the statements I made to him. The good news is God is big enough for all our emotions, and he will never forsake or leave us when we have them! One of the biggest truths I learned was that no matter how we live our lives, we are not immune to suffering because we live in a fallen world. I know somewhere in my brain I knew that mentally, but it wasn't until I felt suffering physically and emotionally that I understood how hard it is to deal with.
I hope this Lent season I will not be like the verses in Matthew or Malachi where the people were offering a lip service and sub-par sacrifices. Their lips and hands were in action, but their hearts were distant and unavailable. In the Lent season my goal is to dive deeper into seeking God first. Before I try to figure it out, before I tell a friend or post about it, really seek Him whole heartedly. God has to be enough. He has to be enough to get you through crazy kids, a bad marriage, a bad report, a financial disaster, strained relationships, loss, and the list goes on.
“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’
8 When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.