For This Season

I’ve been so embarrassed to ask for prayer lately because sometimes it feels like my life is just a never-ending drama. With all the seizures, OCD, depression, PTSD, new symptoms, other health illnesses we’re still trying to diagnose, and then the most recent OCD worsening, a new stomach issue, and over a week long lingering migraine thats the result of a head injury: it just feels like it should be the end of the ‘hard stuff.’ That there shouldn’t be more and if there is, it’s somehow my fault.

I have this little voice inside of me that tells me I’ve used up my entire allotment of sympathy and prayers; that life should be easy and painless and perfectly put together now because I’ve maxed out my quota for pain and people are tired of hearing about it already.

(Never mind that I am tired of living it already!!)

Against all the blaring sirens in my heart and soul telling me I am “too much” and “out of turns to ask for help” and I just need to “be quiet, suck it up and handle it on my own”…

I’m saying:

I need prayers in this season because my heart is breaking in a new kind of way that I didn’t know was possible. Who knew there were more ways for it to break? And I cringe asking for prayers, because I wish more than anyone that it was all put together already and I didn’t need them. But I do. So can you please pray for me? Again?

As I wrote in my journal God so tenderly seemed to respond in my soul, “Who put a limit on mercy, Summer? Was it me? Did I say you were out of turns for compassion, grace and love? Who told you that you were a burden and that people were weary of walking alongside you?

Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times should I forgive this brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus looks Peter in the eye and blows his mind. “I tell you not just seven, but seventy times seven.”

Jesus looked me in the eye and whispered the same thing over my heart this week.

Who am I to limit how many times I can be on the receiving end imageof mercy and grace and forgiveness and prayers? Should I receive the tenderj and fierce prayers of my community only seven times? Or seventy times seven?

God himself is reminding me: if forgiveness is not limited, neither is mercy.

Or prayers. Or grace. Or love. Or compassion.

Do I deserve it? Have I earned it? Do I need to re-pay it? Will I have to ask again? Am I a burden? This week I am practicing the art of silencing all these questions and leaning into the grace of friends who have not once shamed me and told me to “just be well already.” Friends who have stood beside me and not grown weary in their love and prayers.

And I am standing in awe of a God who keeps whispering “seventy times seven” over me.

Maybe you need to be reminded today that seventy times seven is for you too.

Maybe you need to offer more than seven shots at grace to someone in your life.

Maybe God needs to step into your shame and fear and “people are SO tired of hearing this story from me” thoughts and remind you that this whole Gospel thing? It’s about mercy…

and mercy and mercy and mercy and mercy… the unlimited, never-runs-dry, seventy times seven kind.image.jpg

Ruins

If you’ve ever felt like part of your life was in ruins, then you certainly aren’t alone. Maybe you’ve uttered things like this:


My health is disintegrating.
I’m never going to recover.
This struggle will never end.
My marriage is broken.
My finances are in shambles.
This relationship can never be repaired.
My kids are a wreck.
I’m a wreck.
I’m completely devastated.
Yes, we’ve all been in a place at one time or another when we would definitely say something or someone in our life is in ruins.
When thinking about our response to something that’s in ruins, I’m reminded about the story of Nehemiah in the Old Testament. Upon hearing the news that the walls of Jerusalem were in ruins, having been burned with fire, this was his response:
“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:4)
I think there is something here we need to recognize in how we should respond when faced with devastating news that crushes us to the core.
He acknowledged his hurt and pain.

He wept.

He mourned.
Even went without food for a while!
But he did all this…before God.
When we are smack in the middle of an impossible situation, we bring our hurts before God. We pour out our hearts to him. We don’t have to hold it all together for fear of what might come out of our mouth. I love Nehemiah’s transparency before the God of heaven! He doesn’t hold anything back. He empties himself completely before God.
But the story doesn’t stop there. If you continue reading, you’ll come to chapter 2, verse 17. This is where we gain even more insight into our next step when we are on the brink of despair:
“Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.”” (Nehemiah 2:17)
First of all, who are the them he is referring to? He is speaking to his people–fellow Israelites who were exiled with him years before. God’s people!
When we’re faced with devastation, we don’t go running for comfort and support to people who aren’t believers in Christ.
We rally around those who are on the same journey of faith.
And then Nehemiah takes a step of courage.
A step of faith.
A step towards healing.
He doesn’t stay stuck in his despair.
He begins the process of rebuilding.
To stay stuck in misery and hopelessness would be disgraceful. He doesn’t want to stay there! And he realizes he can’t do it alone.
Dear friend, if you are stuck in despair and staring at broken pieces of your life: pour out your heart to God. He knows your pain and hurt. Give it to Him.
But don’t stay there.
Just like Nehemiah, look around you. Lean on your brothers and sisters in Christ. Accept the fact that you can’t rebuild in your own strength.
It might be a long journey to recover from what you’re going through, but I can promise you God will lead you one step at a time, just as he guided Nehemiah through one brick at a time.
He’s a master at taking things in ruins and redeeming them for His glory!

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