Looking for a Lenten Devotional? My friend Curt and I wrote one. It reflects on the four soils Jesus mentions in Matthew 13. Along with the reflections, there is space for your own thoughts as well as some spiritual practices.
You can find more information and get the Kindle or paperback version at:
Confused and Abandoned
Sometimes all we can do is cry out to God. Life, as wonderful as it can be, also brings difficulties and confusion. Even our best attempts end up leaving us wondering what went wrong. We believe and hear that God loves us, but at times, we wonder what it means to be loved by God. On a surface level, we may believe that being loved by God means that things will work out, but then they don’t.
Twice the Psalmist asks, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?”
Can you identify? Something’s wrong, deep within. Perhaps, like the psalmist, we can’t figure out what’s wrong. The psalmist asks his soul for answers, but gets none.
Maybe we all have these experiences. Life comes at us hard and fast dragging us down to the depths of despair. When we come up for air we realize, something isn’t quite right.
He was to overthrow Israel’s enemies. That was the hope. The Jewish people expected a Messiah who would set them free. They knew things were not the way they were supposed to be. Their dream was one day God would send a hero, a Messiah, who would put everything back to rights.
God did the unexpected. Instead of a mighty Messiah, Jesus came into the world as a child. He emptied himself (Philippians 2) of everything but love, came into the world as a servant, humbled himself, was obedient to God, even to death. A child who would save the world wasn’t what was expected. The birth of Jesus was so much more.
Perhaps our minds couldn’t grasp how God’s plan could work. A Messiah with the power of God overthrowing enemies and putting everything to rights makes sense. We can understand how someone like that could be victories. But a child? How would a child fulfill God’s promises? How could a child free God’s people?
Jesus is Immanuel; God with us. He is not a warrior to fight on our behalf, but one who walks with us through all the fights. Through him we find peace that doesn’t make sense. In the midst of our trouble we find we are not alone. Instead of transforming the world through power, he transforms the world through love. Jesus is not what was expected, he is more than we could ever have hoped.
Thanks to someone in Men’s Group (Gary), I was finally able to find this clip after what seemed like years of searching. I have no idea when I saw the film, but I always remembered this prayer. At the time, I was a bit put off by it to be honest. Now I view it differently.
Today I see this as an honest prayer. Stewart’s character prays to give thanks to God, but the prayer focuses on all that Stewart has done to get what he has. His prayer shows that he believes he has what he has because of the strength of his back and the sweat of his brow. I say this prayer is honest because, for many, this is what they believe, but not necessarily what they pray. Even when we reflect Stewart’s feelings, we try to hide those feelings under words of thanks and gratitude. Our actions will give us away though.
Those who truly are able to see that all they have is a gift from God end up living differently (and praying differently). They live with gratitude and a thankfulness. They also are able to give back to God generously because they know that God has given everything to them. Knowing God has given everything to them, enables them to proceed in life with faith, giving to God along the way.
So, how do you really feel about what you have and where God fits into the picture of your blessings?