Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why are we told not to “get our hopes up?” That question rolls around in my head tonight. A few nights ago I heard me tell myself that and I had to talk back and tell myself I was probably wrong. Here’s why I think I should always get my hopes up –

-- God tells me to! Case in point, the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4. This lady has had some disappointments and she doesn't want anymore. She old, her husband is old, and she has no children; a big deal in her culture. Enter God and watch her story change. She even goes so far as to tell the prophet Elisha not to tease her or “get her hopes up” when he tells her that she will be a mother. When her son dies – now tell me that’s not a time we would like to have some hope – she then reminds that same man of God that she told him not to toy with her emotions. And now here she is, disappointed, maybe worse off than she had been before she “got her hopes up.” Then the impossible happens – not impossible for God, but impossible for us to wrap our little narrow minds around – that boy sneezes 7 times and is restored to life. Do you think if she had known that the limitless God we serve does not know the meaning of impossible that she would have held back her hopes? Nah. I wonder why it is that our culture is so determined not to face disappointment or pain. Not that I’m a glutton for punishment or anything, but when did we decide that pain wasn’t a part of the plan especially when God’s word tells us a different story? In Ecclesiastes Solomon, the wisest man, tells us that there is a time for EVERYTHING. That means all of it. In Job and Lamentations we see that God makes the good and the bad days. Somehow we seem to forget that. I like what the song says, “No matter what you’ve heard, impossible is not a word, it’s just a reason not to try.” Didn’t you know? NOTHING is impossible with God. As Max Lucado points out, it’s not the strength of Elizabeth that matters (sigh of relief), but rather the strength of God. Talk about your good news.

So, you worry (which I’ll talk about in a whole ‘nother post – See Matthew 6) that I might get my hopes up? Oh, I’m getting my hopes up… In fact, I’m SENDING my hopes up to the One supplies my hope (Ps 62:5), to the same One who I can put my hope IN (1 Tim 6:17), and to the Love that NEVER fails (1 Cor 13). Did I mention? God is love.


Friday, March 12, 2010

On getting my just desserts...

\di-ˈzərv\ 1. to be worthy of 2. to be worthy, fit, or suitable for some reward or requital

It’s a funny word we use, the word deserve. We hear it from all sorts of different places. Usually we hear it when saying that we deserve something will bring us something we feel we are entitled to for whatever reason. McDonalds told us what we wanted to hear in 1971 (granted, I wasn’t here to hear it yet) with “You Deserve a Break Today” and then others have followed suit with other me-time favorites like “Because I’m Worth It” or even looking out for man’s best friend in “Doesn’t your dog deserve Alpo?” I mean, come on… we all know how I feel about the dog… but really? She deserves something? Let’s see. What has she contributed to the world to deserve Alpo. Um, that’d be big fat nothing. It’s not like she’s waking up in the morning hoping to work her way up to Alpo. Actually, truth be told, her needs far exceed what Alpo is selling. What was I talking about again?

Oh yes, we think we deserve things. For about two years now, that word has been bugging me. I notice it all around me. One of my least favorite phrases to hear as an argument from those around me is the classic, “You deserve better.” Really? What have I done that you think warrants a better outcome in my life? Is it because you think I should be rewarded based on what I have done here on this earth? For myself? For others? Instead of going off of what humans think, let’s look at what God says about what it is that I, a sinner fallen from grace, deserve.

Psalm 103:8 says

The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.

9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.

So, you ask, how do I feel about not getting what I “deserve” in life? I think it’s more of that grace that I cannot seem to understand. Surpasses my limited knowledge. Overwhelms my simple mind, floods my heart, overflows my cup. Why? Because, HE does not treat me as my sins deserve. Even if Jesus didn’t do another thing for me the rest of my life, He died in my place and paid a debt He didn’t owe – something I could never deserve. O Lord, give me the grace to love like You love. And thanks for withholding what it is that I truly deserve.