Tag Archives: tragedy

1 Chronicles 13,14; James 1; Amos 8; Luke 3

One acted to protect. Another was stirred to anger and fear. And yet another was blessed. All were participants in a common circumstance.

The whole assembly agreed to this, for the people could see it was the right thing to do. So David summoned all Israel, from the Shihor Brook of Egypt in the south all the way to the town of Lebo-hamath in the north, to join in bringing the Ark of God from Kiriath-jearim. Then David and all Israel went to Baalah of Judah (also called Kiriath-jearim) to bring back the Ark of God, which bears the name of the Lord who is enthroned between the cherubim. They placed the Ark of God on a new cart and brought it from Abinadab’s house. Uzzah and Ahio were guiding the cart. David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, singing songs and playing all kinds of musical instruments—lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets. (1 Chronicles 13:4-8, NLT, emphasis added)

David was bringing back the Ark of God. He consulted his advisors and acted under the Lord’s consenting will. It was a joyful procession with an unexpected end.

But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark. 10 Then the Lord’s anger was aroused against Uzzah, and he struck him dead because he had laid his hand on the Ark. So Uzzah died there in the presence of God.

11 David was angry because the Lord’s anger had burst out against Uzzah. He named that place Perez-uzzah (which means “to burst out against Uzzah”), as it is still called today.

12 David was now afraid of God, and he asked, “How can I ever bring the Ark of God back into my care?” 13 So David did not move the Ark into the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-edom of Gath. 14 The Ark of God remained there in Obed-edom’s house for three months, and the Lord blessed the household of Obed-edom and everything he owned. (1 Chronicles 13:9-14, NLT, emphasis added)

Some of my joyful starts have had unexpected ends. I have been powerless to protect things and people I treasure. I have been confused, wounded, disheartened by the unfolding of events–and some of these have taken years to recover from. I have been blessed beyond thought in seasons where I never expected it.

But I think on this–a common cause and three different perspectives, three different consequences–but one singular thing. Each man assigned his own narrative to it.

I don’t know what sparked Uzzah’s action: Certainly he was chosen to help carry the Ark because he was competent, responsible, and trustworthy. Were his actions instantaneous with no thought but to be helpful? Did he act because he thought David would be furious if the Ark fell? Was he protective of the impression of God, to save Him from a dishonor or embarrassment of a fallen Ark? All motivations seem reasonable. Whatever it was, Uzzah’s action was out of line, crossing a boundary of what the Lord required or expected of him, regardless of his intention or his credentials. It cost him a price. Lord, please be my guide. Give me wisdom and discernment. Keep me from butting into circumstances that are not my place to intervene. Your ways are higher than mine.

David was angry and afraid. The God he loved had acted in a way David didn’t expect, and he felt all the feelings. He didn’t understand. David was trying to do the right thing, and it went horribly wrong. This was not the happy ending of a joyful journey he had envisioned. His desire to honor God was marked by tragedy. Lord, when I struggle with expectation versus reality, help me to sort through all the feelings in a right way. Your ways are higher than mine.

An unexpected detour. When A to B takes a turn, the Ark is redirected to Obed-edom’s home for a time. In His presence, they are blessed. Lord, help me to be obedient when the unexpected happens. I pray to be aware of Your presence in all circumstances, confident in You and Your Will. You are my source of joy and peace, and I’m glad Your ways are higher than mine.

Courtney (66books365)

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. (James 1:2-6a, NLT)

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Job 6-8; 1 John 1

Perhaps in today’s terms, he’d be authentic, vulnerable, transparent.

If my misery could be weighed
    and my troubles be put on the scales,
they would outweigh all the sands of the sea.
    That is why I spoke impulsively. (Job 6:2-3, NLT, in response to Eliphaz)

But his unlovely grappling with the tragedies in his life brought him criticism and condemnation instead of comfort or understanding–from his very own friends.

One should be kind to a fainting friend,
    but you accuse me without any fear of the Almighty.
15 My brothers, you have proved as unreliable as a seasonal brook
    that overflows its banks in the spring
16     when it is swollen with ice and melting snow.
17 But when the hot weather arrives, the water disappears.
    The brook vanishes in the heat. (Job 6:14-17, NLT)

Job wades through turmoil. His successful, stable life and faith are scrambled by unimaginable tragedy. Whether his friends’ words were intended to help or harm, they certainly provided no comfort (think memes). He is in a pit, and whether they knew it or not, their words sparked a new burden.

I can replay his experience by rereading a passage, but in real time, real life, one often does not have the luxury to hit pause to contemplate life’s facets. In real time, replay takes place in memory and dreams, either bringing resolution or torment.

I, too, have been assigned months of futility,
    long and weary nights of misery.
Lying in bed, I think, ‘When will it be morning?’ (Job 7:3-4, NLT)

I think on loss, disappointment, grief, anger, hurt. I think of relationships where I’ve shared things in vulnerability and authenticity (really heartache), places I thought were ones of safety, but ultimately were not. And in that pit, the weight of loss, disappointment, grief, anger and hurt are the kindling that embitters sins of resentment, unforgiveness, grudge.

It was a recurring message in books I’d read last year: No one is coming to save you.

I realized I expected friends I considered near to rally around and help me out of the pit. But the truth is, they never said they would or could. No wonder I felt alone when I was grasping the vapor belief/hope that they should.

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. (1 John 1:5-10, NLT)

God is light, and I’m grateful for the intimacy I have with him through prayer and His Word. He is my safe place. He meets me in the ugly, scrambled spaces and speaks with clarity and gentleness–oh that I can hide his word in my heart so that I would not sin against him. Feelings let me know something is wrong–but left untended, they can become agitated and enflamed to sin. Do not be deceived. Offense and expectation have no cap on captives. Freeing others from unexpressed expectations freed me from sins of bitterness, resentment and anger. It also gave me newly found freedom to delight and invest my heart and time in more fruitful pursuits.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 13, Luke 16, Job 31, 2 Corinthians 1

Read at – http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ex.%2013;%20Luke%2016;%20Job%2031;%202%20Cor.%201&version=NKJV

Exodus 13    Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place….‘This is done because of what the Lord did for me’

              Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had placed the children of Israel under solemn oath, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here with you.” And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.  

              Lord God, You are the Deliverer, the Provider and Sustainer. I suffer because I focus on my circumstances rather than clinging to You, no matter how much, often and powerfully You reveal Your character, attributes and activity in my daily life.

              Father, thank You for being the Sovereign Lord God throughout all time and space. You brought Joseph through many trials and hardship, where Joseph clung to You because of all his unfaithful and cruel family members, owners and friends. There was no person he could trust but You. Lord God, You were and are always Faithful! You let Joseph know You would bring him out of Egypt to be with Your people – and You covered Israel as You set them free! You saved Your people from judgment of death because You provided the only Way out! The Passover Lamb of God, representative of the eternal Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. (1)

            Lord God, You have been present during my past and are bringing me to the future You have planned. Help me to be faithful to You in my daily thought life so that I will not be depleted, distracted, saddened or without vision to forfeit what You want done, Your good and perfect will.

Luke 16         There was a certain rich man who had a steward, … and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you?’ … So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. …  And I say to you, … He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

            Lord God, You amaze me! You have trained me to be frugal and to give to You generously out of desiring for Your will and glory to be done here on earth as it is in heaven. Your  Word has done within me what You purposed! Yet it is never about money! It isn’t if we have money or not, are rich or not. It’s about depending on You, relying on You in a relationship based upon You, Lord Jesus! It is about living for You with integrity and honoring You with my attitude, motive and intent, along with everything else of my being. It is truly all about Jesus, the Word of God. (2)  

“it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.” Luke 16:17

               The rich man and Lazarus, hell and heaven, show me that it isn’t about who had ‘good’ or ‘evil’. It is about what we do within our circumstances about You! It doesn’t depend on seeing You, Jesus, but IF we heed You, the Word of God. (vs. 30-31)                     

Job 31           For what is the allotment of God from above, And the inheritance of the Almighty from on high? Is it not destruction for the wicked, And disaster for the workers of iniquity? Does He not see my ways, And count all my steps? … For destruction from God is a terror to me, And because of His magnificence I cannot endure.

            What Wondrous expressions displaying Job’s Love for God! The intimacy and passionate desire for God from Job is sacred. Job 31 reveals the tender subtleties of living a life with the sensibilities for God to honor of the Lord God Almighty. Oh, Lord, that I, in this day, would have the same fear of You and honor for You! My heart weeps at the iniquity within me and around me! Your heart must be continually broken by each subtle ignoring of Your Presence here on earth!

             Job cries out, “Oh, that I had one to hear me! Here is my mark. Oh, that the Almighty would answer me, That my Prosecutor had written a book! Surely I would carry it on my shoulder, And bind it on me like a crown; I would declare to Him the number of my steps; Like a prince I would approach Him.” Job 31:35-37

            Many of us suffer seasons of tragedy, loss and of friends with bad advice. Oh! That Job would have had the Book of Your Word! Then Job could have “heard” from You as his Most Trusted Friend! You, Lord Jesus, the Word of God! (3)   

            How blessed! I DO have this!! We have a book called the “library”, the Bible! Many of us do carry it around and bind it to our hearts and minds like You command. Some Christ followers yearn to have it, yet because of cultural and governmental oppression, they must quickly memorize the single page that is smuggled to them. Others hold Your infallible Word in disdain, and seek to destroy Your reputation and your living tablets of the Word. Sadly, some who claim to belong to you, ignore your commands, precepts, principles and promises. They live a life by “their own understanding” and not a life in the Fear and admonition of the Lord. (4)

             Lord God, by Job’s circumstances and choices, I see how You were involved and protecting his person the entire time, You teach me Who You are and How You are with me. Your Word grows in me a healthy fear and respect of You in order to hide safely in Your Presence.

              Some seasons “feel” like God is displeased with me, though it is the exact opposite because this is when I am being hewn out of His Love for me. It is at these very moments that God is surrounding me closely, protecting me, providing and preparing me for greater intimacy with Him and for His plans of fruitfulness in His Presence for my future! (6)

            Job suffered for one terrible, agonizing season. But Job’s unwavering faithfulness to God seems matchless to me. In the end, Lord God, You double-blessed Job, proving a “a rich harvest of righteousness” and reimbursing Job for “what the locust had eaten”. (5)

             Joseph, too, had an agonizing season before God brought abundance and saved the nation of Israel. My agonizing season, though nothing in comparison to theirs, seems hard to me all the same. Much time in a “wilderness” with much pruning, breaking, healing and training for me by the Husband’s (a farming term) Skillful Hand is to have me trust, rely and adhere to the Almighty alone.

              What feels like “being deprived”, tortured, rejected and “soulful pain” – however real, is really heavenly pruning. God is cutting off deception, sin patterns, strongholds, lies I trust in, and setting me free so that I am no longer captive to my flesh, emotions and evil that I am unaware of. I have prayed, and I mean it – Lord, You know. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. No matter what the cost – because You already Paid the Price. Thank You Lord Jesus Christ!

2 Corinthians 1       Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.

            Oh, Lord, the pain I feel seems interminable …. even though I know it is circumstantial and it will have an end. I do trust in the “God who raises the dead”. I am being helped by people “in prayer”. What if those two were not in place! I shudder to think of it. Lord God, help and save those who do not have You, the God of my salvation, the Holy One of Israel, for their Deliverer! Amen!

             For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He Who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, Who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 1:20-22

Bible Insights –

1- Genesis 50:25; Exodus 13:19; John 1:29; John 1:36; Revelation 7:9-12; Romans 12:1-2  

2-  Isaiah 55:8-11; Colossians 3:23-24; John 1:1-3; John 1:14

3- Proverbs 18:24; John 5:24; John 6:63; Psalm 33:4; Psalm 119:43; Psalm 119:160; John 17:17; John 1:1-3; John 1:14

4- Psalm 1; Psalm 19; Psalm 119; Deuteronomy 6:4-8; Deuteronomy 11:16-23; 2 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Peter 2:5; Judges 17:6; Proverbs 3:5-7; Proverbs 18:2; Job 28:28; Ephesians 6:4

5- Psalm 4:8; Job 42:10-17; Joel 2:25; Hebrews 12:11

6- Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 1:1-3; Job 42:10-17; John 14:2-3; John 8:31-36; Romans 6:23; Romans 5:8; Romans 5:21; Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:3-11; Revelation 3:19

 Crystal (PsalmThirty4)

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Exodus 32; John 11; Proverbs 8; Ephesians 1

When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet and told Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11: 32)

Mary’s emotion was so raw.  Her grief and anguish radiated from her body.  I can almost hear her words in between her sobs.  I picture her whole body just shaking, desperately wanting her brother back, knowing that Jesus Himself could have prevented Lazarus’ death. Maybe this picture is so real to me because it once was me…

The day that I got the phone call telling me that my husband and six kids were in a car accident that took the life of my husband, I immediately went into shock.  I was able to handle the initial days following his death with strength and poise, giving God glory and praise.  But several weeks later the reality of the situation hit me smack in the face.  I was 36 years old. I had 6 kids.  I was a widow.  I moved into a dark and depressed place.  In my eyes, the “unfairness” of the situation was almost too much for me to even bear.  I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and just really missed my husband.  I wanted to die too.  Death seemed so much easier than to carry the whole weight of the world on my shoulders.  Like Mary, I wrestled with the fact that God could have stopped the accident.  He was powerful enough to have prevented Kevin’s death.  But He chose not to.  Being authentic with God, like Mary, telling Him my feelings was such a huge release.  I knew that I wanted to fully trust God.  I knew that I wanted this tragedy to grow me.  Wrestling with God was critical for this growth.  I needed to pour my heart and feelings out to Him.  God is a BIG God.  He could handle my raw emotions.  He wasn’t going to turn His back on me because I was honest with Him.  In fact, I believe the opposite is true.  I believe that He loved the fact that I was authentic with Him.  In fact, as I read on in John, I get a better picture of God’s response to my sorrow…

When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, He was angry in His spirit and deeply moved. “Where have you put him?” He asked.

“Lord,” they told Him, “come and see.”

Jesus wept. (John 11: 33-35)

Jesus was in fact deeply moved by my sorrow.  I think His anger here refers to His anger about human suffering and death — that He knows that life here on earth is full of pain, hurt, struggles.  He knows that life, in the Garden, was never supposed to be this way.  He knows that His life would have to be spared to conquer death.  He knows how much I was hurting, how broken I was (am).  And what was His response?  Jesus wept.  Jesus bitterly sobbed over my loss.  Over my pain.  Over my devastation.  Over my grief.  Oh, how thankful I am to be serving a heavenly Father who the creator of emotions — who cares so deeply for me that He weeps with me.

So I was faced with this…. God could have chosen to spare my husband’s life, saving me and my children from years of agony.  However, for whatever reason, God decided that Kevin’s time here on earth was up.  It certainly was not the plan that I would have picked for my life.  But, I know and believe that God is God.  He will use all of my pain and suffering for good.  He will redeem the years that the locusts have stolen.  He will turn these ashes into beauty.  I believe this with all of my heart.  And God, in His goodness and mercy, has shown me little snapshots of how He is working all of this for His good.  I will choose to trust Him for all of my days.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live.  Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die – ever.” (John 11:25-26)

God, I thank You that You are a tender-hearted Father.  I praise You for being my Rock, my Fortress.  Thank You that You want my heart, all of it.  I am so grateful that I can be honest with You, sharing my deepest emotions.  And Lord, I praise You for eternal life!

Amen.

Suzie (suzielawyer)

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