August 13, 2013

Lines (11)





Continuing notes from "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction"


Chapter 12  Hope  Psalm 130

p. 133 "To be human is to be in trouble."
"A Christian is a person who decides to face and live through suffering.  If we do not make that decision, we are endangered on every side."
"Psalm 130 grapples mightily with suffering, sings its way through it, and provides usable experience for those who are committed to traveling the way of faith to God through Jesus Christ."

p. 134  The psalmist here sets anguish out in the open, it is voiced in prayer before God - right out there, no holding back.
**How many of us think God isn't big enough to handle our cries?  How often do I pretend to have it together before the Almighty?  How stupid is that?!  I know He knows... what is the point in pretending?
My anguish does not shock him.

"You know, there is an American myth that denies suffering and the sense of pain. It acts as if they should not be, and hence it devalues the experience of suffering.  But this myth denies our encounter with reality." ~Ivan Ilich

p. 135 "The worst thing that can happen to a man is to have no God to cry to out of the depth." ~P.T. Forsyth
The Psalm shows us how to cry out - to face our suffering by bringing it before God - not to hide from it or avoid it - but to face it with faith.

p. 136  Because we have God - who is personal - we have the means to walk on through our suffering. He is with us, involved, caring and loving and absolutely merciful.

p. 136-137 "Eight times the name of God is used in the psalm. We find, as we observe how God is addressed, that he is understood as one who forgives sin, who comes to those who wait and hope for him, who is characterized by steadfast love and plenteous redemption, and who will redeem Israel. God makes a difference." (emp. mine)

p. 137 "And this, of course, is why we are able to face, acknowledge, accept and live through suffering, for we know that it can never be ultimate, it can never constitute the bottom line. God is at the foundation and God is at the boundaries."

p. 138 At the center of the psalm is the direction for participating in our reality - especially when it comes to suffering- the directions say wait and hope. These words are connected to the image of a watchman.

p. 139 "The psalmist's and the Christian's waiting and hoping is based on the conviction that God is actively involved in his creation and vigorously involved at work in redemption. Waiting does not mean doing nothing. It is not fatalistic resignation. It means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions."
**I think there is also needed a level of acceptance that sometimes we will not know or understand these things - but that God knows is enough for us.

p. 140 "And hoping is not dreaming. It is not spinning an illusion of fantasy to protect us from our boredom or our pain. It means a confident alert expectation that God will do what he said he will do. It is imagination put in the harness of faith. It is a willingness to let him do it his way and in his time."
** Often - for me - this is the hardest part.  Trusting in God's ways and timing instead of what I think I want and when I want it.