Lamentation

My God

You have not forsaken me, but I have lost my way to Your Heart.

My soul has lost its refreshing dew and I thirst for Your Love and how I once knew it.

My body is weary and worn. It cries out daily for renewal and refreshment. My bones ache with the weight of sorrow and my despair only deepens.

My heart is shattered as a pane of glass. It is scattered by the winds of loss. My emptiness consumes like a moonless night.

“How long, oh Lord, how long?” is the echo of my lamentation. Hourly, the losses in my life mount higher. It seems as if they are as tall as the highest peak and as deep as a  fathomless ocean

I seem to labor to keep body and spirit together yet, I find no harvest…no reward. It is an internal battle that has a fierceness that desires to destroy me.

Relief is my physical cry. Refreshment, my soul’s plea.

I know that my heart’s lament is not lost in a sea of deafness. I know that my name is on Your lips. My life is seen by Your all-knowing Eyes.

It is my heart, oh Lord, that is shrivelling within my breast.

I cannot save myself.

It is You, my God, the Lover of my soul, it is to You whom I cry.

I surrender my life, my self , my all to You and Your will.

I shall be restored to Your Master Plan.

I shall look on my life and rejoice for I have seen Your abundant Grace, Your Unmerited Favor on my life in this land called Living.

I shall stand.

I shall stand on Your solid Rock.

It is the Rock called Hope.

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Where Have All My Words Gone?

Without Dan and the daily stuggle to survive the darkest moment of my life, my desire and ability to take words and weave them into a tapestry has vanished.

I always said that my writing was an expression of my heart. Now, it causes me to wonder about my heart. The lack of words would indicate that my heart is sterile. It has nothing. It holds nothing.

Maybe, that isn’t totally accurate. The void may be the fact that I am living in a numbness that is ongoing. Love is missing.

It was love that filled my heart and made me feel alive. It was the love from Dan that defined my womanhood. It was Dan’s love that held the magic and now, the magic is missing.

There had to be something that was inherent inside of my heart that was the essence of what Dan loved. My head is trying to convince my heart that this is a truth. My heart is bleak.

Lately, with all of the holidays, anniversaries and Valentines Day, all I can think of is that my heart has died within me. The sparkle has gone from my eyes and the smile has vanished from my face. Yes, I can still smile and my eyes are still open yet, there is something missing.

These days are full of freezing fog, dull gray days and the threat of ice and snow. So it is with my heart. My heart has become a block of ice. It no longer beats with the color of red. It is as gray as the winter skys. It is lost to me and I grieve for the person that I once was.

As David cried out in the Psalms, “How long, oh Lord, how long?” This is my daily cry…”How long???”

How long will I feel this sad? How long will I feel so lost? How long will everyday look like the same gray and empty day that comes to greet me?

No one has answers and my heart and head will continue to battle over this bleak reality of emptiness.

I continue to search and I want to plan my life. But, now more than ever, I realize that it is a falsehood to believe that I plan anything regarding my life.

The quest is to find balance between the hope of life and the lack of hope in it.

Is this the sum total of my years? I lived and I knew love. Now, I live and I can only remember what love was. It isn’t much to build a life around, is it?

Thou, Oh Lord, Are A Shield For Me

So far, things have been going in the same direction as was started on the day my husband died. It seems that it is not “when it rains, it pours” kind of thing. It feels like a 100 year flood type of scenario.

As I wrote in another post, my lawn tractor blew a head or something. I must buy a manual because my son, who was a helicopter mechanic in the Marines is at a loss as to what this engine is missing. He said that something wasn’t put back together correctly, so he needs a manual to try and find what was done when the old man that we bought the tractor from rebuilt the engine…no one knows and should we ask the old man, he may not remember…I don’t have a clue what the parts will cost after we find what is missing…it is a worry. In the mean time, the grass grows higher and higher…

This morning, I went to church. I didn’t feel like talking to many folks (most are family) so I purposefully went late and I was one of the first to leave when the dismissal was given.

When I got into my car, it refused to start. Now, I know that this car has had it self almost rebuilt one piece at a time. The last thing that was changed out was the starter. All it would do is click…that is the sound that a celinoid makes when it is refusing or unable to engage.

 Because it didn’t “zing”, I knew that the Bendix in the starter wasn’t the problem…it was acting like it was the celinoid wasn’t able to unengaged or  it was stuck on the flywheel. It didn’t matter.  It is the starter.

As I sat there turning the ignition key and listening to the useless clicks, I remembered how difficult it was for my husband to put this starter on in April. My husband was trying to prevent what was occuring at this very moment. The tears started  to well up and I told them to “dry it up” because people’s pity is more than I can bear right now.

So as in all things refurbished, something has decided not to perform. One of my many cousins walked over and asked what was wrong. I asked him which part of the car did he suggest that I kick first…he smiled and said, “pick one”. No help.

I knew that when the celinoid gets stuck, you can tap/hit it and sometimes that will make it unstick, so one of the congregationers went to his truck and got a balpine hammer. Both my cousin and this kind man were trying to find a way to get to the hammer on the starter, but that wasn’t easy due to the location of the starter in the engine compartment.  Getting a good swing and hit wasn’t going to be easy… 

Almost everyone that was in the parking lot had left except us. I was almost resigned that someone was going to have to take me home when I said, ” Hit it again, guys.” That time, the starter engaged the engine roared to life. I was so relieved. I made a mental note to myself. “Don’t leave home without a hammer and jumper cables.”

I don’t know how long this thing is going to act up, but I can’t stop driving this car. The other vehicle is a diesel Ford F-250 pickup truck. It has the wrong gears in it for fuel mileage and I can’t afford $4.73/gallon. That is the price for diesel fuel today. Earlier in the week, it was over $5.00/gallon….without income, these vehicles are going to leave me worse off than I am already…buying anything newer is out of the question. Cancer has destroyed any ability for me to have credit. Besides, I don’t need a payment of any sort at this moment.

As I was mulling all of this worry, stress and concern in my mind, a song came into my head. I didn’t recognize it at first, but the melody became so strong, I started to hum it…then I stopped and thought to myself, “What is that song????”.

When the I got to the chorus of the song, I began singing the words..It was a song from the Brooklynn Tabernacle Choir CD that my husband and I listened to a lot…the words are something like this….it is based on Psalms 3:3…

“Many are they increased who trouble me.  Many are they who rise up against me.

Many are saying of me, “There is not help for you in God”

But, Thou, oh Lord are a Shield for me, my glory and the Lifter of my head.

I cry unto the Lord with my voice and He heard me out of His Holy Hill.

I laid me down and slept; I awaked for the Lord sustained me…

 But, Thou, oh Lord, are a Shield for me, the glory and the Lifter of my head…..”

The melody of the song is thrilling and somehow, the words have infiltrated that emptiness that seemed to  attach itself to my every waking moments. I don’t have a clue as to how all of these troubles that are increased against me will be resolved.  I don’t know how I will overcome this terrible hole that is in my soul. The “wheres”  and the “whys” shall remain unanswered. But, at this moment, I know that I am being sustained by my Heavenly Father who hears my heart’s cry.

There is a stirring inside of my being that tells me not to worry about the loss of security that my husband’s passing  placed in my heart. I only need to remember that it is ” The Lord God Almighty that is my Shield, my Glory, and the Lifter of my head…

The part that has invaded my soul is that God is my Shield, The Lifter of my head so that I will not be ashamed or pitied. He has taken my husband’s stead and has become my Protector.

Since the Soc Security money was taken from me, I fear the cost of everything….I don’t know how  all of these “troubles” with the mower, the car or with anything else that decides to become an unwanted surprise will resolve,  but, at this moment, I am realizing the protection that far outreaches that of any husband.

God knew He would be receiving my husband so He has made His Provision for me. My God has become my Protector/Shield. I must learn to relax a little and trust that My God will be there to provide what I need when I need it.

 To relinquish control to God is not an easy thing for someone like me. I truly like being the “Project Manager” and controlling production/time tables, but right now, I am totally out of my comfort zone which translates to being “out of control”.

I have a choice. I either trust in my faith and allow the same faith that got my husband from this world into the next to do what is best for me, or I can stress over everything and begin to unwind as a jeweler watches the spring unwind in an old pocket watch.

I choose the first option. I know the Hand of God when I see it and it has moved on my behalf in the past. I must remember the mighty things that He has already done and I must do all that I know to do. Bu,t when the troubles increase and they are more than I can manage, I must let my God be my Shield/Protector, my Glory and the Lifter of my head.

Walking Toward the Final Shadows

I was going to continue with my posting about my anger with God, however, my husband’s condition has worsened. He is in ICU with a bowel obstruction and he has low O2 saturation. Low O2 sat means that his blood isn’t being oxygenated like it should. The doctors are looking at blood clots in the lungs as one of the reasons for the problem. I am afraid that the problem is the tumors. They have taken up all the available space in his abdomen and there is not room. The tumors are pressing in on all of his organs. He is dying.

I need to write more, but I cannot. I haven’t had much sleep in the last 24 hours…..I need to write so I can sort all of this whirlwind of emotions. They need an outlet or they will be the same as the tumors and displace my sanity. I need to complete my thoughts about the Dangerous Shadows, but, for now, I need sleep. I need to return to the ICU before the doctors make their rounds. I need to be with him. I need to watch him breath. I need him to know that I am there with him and he is not alone.

In spite of my anger with God, I still need My Heavenly Father, the Lover of my soul.

I need God, Abba to hold my hand.

These shadows are so dark. I cannot see my hand in front of my face or feel my heart beat in my chest. I don’t know if I am breathing or not at this moment. I am numb.

In this darkness, I see my husband’s face. It is full of worry and pain. He is wondering if he is approaching the moment when he leaves me and this world or is it the time that we see the Hand of Living God suspend the laws of cancer by His Mighty Hand. My poor husband’s body is being ravaged by pain and he just wants to live. He wants to see the face of his unborn grandson. He wants to look into the child that will bear his name.

Oh, my Lord and Savior, reach forth you Hand in mercy. Please, be our Gentle Shepard and lead us with Your comfort that You speak of in your Psalm. Teach us to trust You more and to hear your voice as our hearts cry out in desperation.

Please,preserve his life, Father. Please, preserve his faith. Please preserve our hope.

In the name and by His authority, Jesus, the Christ I implore You,

Amen.

As A Shade of Sheol, A Deep Shadow

I don’t know the proper recognization when you copy and past someone else’s blog, however I wanted this to be a part of my journey. It, in it’s sad way, brought comfort. To see that this Psalm may have been penned by someone who finds the same things that I am finding on this journey thawarts the lonliness. Isn’t that what this life is about? Walking together is better than walking alone. We first walk it with ourselves. We walk it with our God, but the burden is lighter when we walk it with someone. I find that this journey is too painful for friends. They want to fix the humanly unfixable. They begin strong as if they are going into battle, but like any long and drawn out conflict, desertion seems to quickly descend and it isn’t their fault. It is uncomfortable to daily watch prayers go unanswered. It isn’t pleasant to re-affirm daily “Even though He may slay me, YET will I trust Him!!!” It is a definately a place in the shade and when the lonliness sets in, it is a deep shadow.

As a Shade in Sheol: The Experience of Illness

Filed under: Psalms — Jeremy @ 12:48 pm

As I was reading Psalm 88 this morning a footnote in my New Oxford Annotated Bible caught my attention. The commentator suggests that this psalm may have been written by someone suffering a lifelong illness. This conjecture is based on verse 15 – “Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer thy terrors.” This puts a new twist on an already heart-wrenching psalm. Here is the text:

O Lord, my God, I call for help by day;
  I cry out in the night before thee.
Let my prayer come before thee,
  Incline thy ear to my cry!

For my soul is full of troubles,
  And my life draws near to Sheol.
I am reckoned among those who go down to the Pit;
  I am a man who has no strength,
Like one forsaken among the dead,
  Like the slain that lie in the grave,
Like those whom thou dost remember no more,
  For they are cut off from thy hand.
Thou hast put me in the depths of the Pit,
  In the regions dark and deep.
Thy wrath lies heavy upon me,
  And thou dost overwhelm me with all thy waves. Selah

Thou hast caused my companions to shun me;
  Thou hast made me a thing of horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
  My eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call upon thee, O Lord;
  I spread out my hands to thee.
Dost thou work wonders for the dead?
  Do the shades rise up to praise thee? Selah
Is thy steadfast love declared in the grave,
  Or thy faithfulness in Abaddon?
Are thy wonders known in the darkness,
  Or thy saving help in the land of forgetfulness?

But I, O Lord, cry to thee;
  In the morning my prayer comes before thee.
O Lord, why dost thou cast me off?
  Why dost thou hide thy face from me?
Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
  I suffer thy terrors; I am helpless.
Thy wrath has swept over me;
  Thy dread assaults destroy me.
They surround me like a flood all day long;
  They close in upon me together.
Thou hast caused lover and friend to shun me;
  My companions are in darkness.

I have always been healthy; my parents, however, have not. My Mom has had serious bone and joint problems since she was a teenager. And I have watched my Dad suffer from Hepatitis C, an incurable liver disease, for the last fifteen years. He is currently awaiting a liver transplant. So I have witnessed the effects of long-term disease firsthand.

I am reckoned among those who go down to the Pit

The psalmist identifies himself as a shade, the term used in the OT for those who had gone down into Sheol. Shades had an indeterminate existence, a sort of half-life, cut off from the land of the living and, more devastatingly, from God, the source of life. The psalmist, then, is experiencing “hell on earth,” though the phrase isn’t exactly appropriate since it has connotations that would have been unfamiliar to him. He is as good as dead, cut off from the experience of life, his companions, and God.

I am shut in so that I cannot escape

He is cut off from the experience of life. He has been sick for so long that he hardly remembers health, strength, or joy. He is in solitary confinement. There is no escape and no light. Even the food slid in under the door is tasteless, colorless as the walls, and joylessly eaten in silence.

Long-term illness is restrictive. Sometimes literally, as in the case of the bedridden. Taking a drive to enjoy the colors of fall, eating in a favorite restaurant, going fishing – all of these activities become burdensome if not impossible. They used to be means of escape, but when they cannot be enjoyed the effect is detrimental. A source of joy is removed. What is prison if not such a confinement?

Thou hast caused lover and friend to shun me

He is cut off from companions. He has become “a thing of horror to them.” Like the shades, people fear him. They do not understand him and, worse, they see in him their fears for themselves.

Too often we abandon the seriously ill when we are needed most. In cases of long-term illness we sometimes lose interest. We’ll occasionally ask after the person, but we are not actively engaged in supporting them. We are uncomfortable because we don’t know what to say. But simple, caring acts are more important than any words. And, uncomfortable as it may be, it can be good for our souls to face our fear of death by caring for the sick. More importantly, however, it is good for the sick.

O Lord, why dost thou cast me off?

Cut off from God, the source of life. That is the most terrifying thing about the shades. And, like them, the psalmist feels severed from God. He does not feel the vigor of health. He fears death. Why doesn’t God deliver him?

For the believer, this is the greatest torment of illness. The lawyer inside tells us that if we do good, good things will happen, and if we do bad, bad things will happen. “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2). The feeling is exacerbated for those who believe in divine healing as the right of every believer. For them, sickness calls into question the very existence of their faith. The sick need to hear from us that God loves them and will sustain them in their illness. Most of the time they don’t need a theodicy. They need the Gospel.

Do the shades rise up to praise thee?

The last nine verses of the psalm are bleak. He sees no rescue from the terrors of death and Sheol. But there is hope after all. In the resurrection of Jesus, God’s wonders have been made known in the darkness and his saving help in the land of forgetfulness. Christ has cast down the gates of Abaddon and broken free, leading captivity captive and giving gifts unto men.

During the Prayer of the Church in our worship services we name the sick. After a while we memorize the list. Yet we sometimes forget that every name represents a soul in turmoil. This is a violation of love, a sin against those people. Let us repent and, like “little Christs,” enter into their suffering with them.