Desires and Delights
A few years ago I memorized Psalm 37:4. "Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart." When I memorized it I was in the most broken season of my life up till then. One that is now the second most broken I have ever been. I wrestled with this verse long and hard and held it as a promise that would one day be fulfilled. And if you would have asked me four short weeks ago I would have bellowed out in joy how I hung to this verse for years and was beginning to taste the sweetness of its promise being fulfilled.
And in the blink of an eye, all of that changed. My person was taken from this world. And with her, every plan, hope, dream, and desire for the future died in that car with her.
This morning as I sat down to read I found myself back in this chapter. And I again read this verse that is so familiar to me. I'm sure this is the point where I 'should' say that this verse is still as sweet as it has ever been. I'm 'supposed' to say that this verse still feels like a strong tower in which I can take refuge and be safe. But that's not honest. And far too often in grief, at least for me, we proclaim that times of faith and hide the fear, doubt, and anger that will come with any honest grief.
As I read that verse this morning it took me a few minutes to read any further. This verse that had so recently been sweet as honey now felt like wormwood in my mouth. I was in the season where I was able to delight in the Lord more than I ever had. I was more like Jesus than I believe I have ever been before. I was going through, and planning life, with a person who pushed me and encouraged me to be like Jesus more than anyone else in my life ever had. She was the one who so pushed me to delight in the Lord, and she was the desire of my heart. And I found myself sitting on a porch, Bible in hand, coffee on the table, pipe in my teeth, angry at God.
I was angry because I felt cheated. I felt as though there was no way that this thing could be made right. That there was no way that this could "work together for my good".
If you have ever tasted the bitter cup of grief then you understand this. And if you have tasted that cup and can't say you know this feeling then let me be the first to beg you to repent of your hypocrisy and the lies you tell yourself and others.
I was stuck. I felt a pull to continue to read and a desire to just put down my Bible and not ever pick it up again.
And, by the strength of empowering grace, I found myself continuing to read after some time. I found myself at another passage that I have memorized, though this is one I only placed in memory this past year. "The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
for the Lord upholds his hand." In this same chapter that gives the promise of our heart's delight is also found the promise that the same man/woman will fall. The verse does not say 'if he fall' but 'though he fall'. And I have fallen.
In his commentary on this chapter Spurgeon writes: "No saint shall fall finally or fatally.
Sorrow may bring us to the earth, and death may bring us to the
grave, but lower we cannot sink, and out of the lowest of all we shall
arise to the highest of all."
That is where I find myself. I feel I have been brought to the earth, even lower still being brought to the grave of my love. But there is hope yet to come. A hope I believe now in part and fight for even that amount of belief. But I also know that my salvation from this rests not on the strength of my hope, but the strength of Him I hope in. In seasons like this people love Romans 8:28. Well, people going through seasons like this don't...but people love to tell it to people in these seasons. One of the books I got from my fiance was Thomas Watson's All Things For Good. I thought it would be a good one to pick up in this season. And as I read I had to laugh a bit to myself, for the book is based on that verse I have grown tired of hearing these past three weeks. In the first chapter, Watson writes, "This expression 'work together' refers to medicine. Several poisonous ingredients put together, being tempered by the skill of the apothecary (doctor), make a sovereign medicine, and work together for the good of the patient. So all God's Providence, being divinely tempered and sanctified, work together for the best of the saints."
There is part of me that takes great comfort in this. I feel as though I have been given a poison, yet the Great Physician can mix this in a way to heal and bring life. But I must also admit, I only believe this in part. So I find myself at the place where I pray a borrowed prayer, "I believe but help my unbelief". When He heard this prayer, Jesus had no rebuke for such honesty. So I believe that there is none in this honest prayer for me, and none for those other honest enough to say the same.