PRAYER FOR RELIEF
Jane M. Phinney | April 14, 2020 |
This morning I am restless & my soul is tied up in knots. If I had my way, I wouldn’t write. But God urges me forward because I remember that a spiritual vacation is never an option. When troubles come my way, it feels like they happen in 3s. I counted & I prayed, “Lord, please…no more right now.” And then my dryer quit! Too old to repair & zero cash for a new one. Some of you can identify. These temporary setbacks don’t make a marked difference in the long haul, but the inconvenience triggered a deep exhale. It’s one-more-thing to rob my already depleted emotions & brain power.
My triple troubles are familiar to some. The virus has affected everyone in varying degrees. Clearly this situation should not be taken lightly & the uncertainty hangs like a shadow. Then there’s the new health issues affecting my honey. It appears that the shadow has given way to some storm clouds. But at the heart of my angst, today, is my memory of saying my final phone goodbye, to my sister-in-law, Karen, on Resurrection/Easter Sunday. The rains came, washing my face with the pain in my heart. We live 12 hours a part & I will not see her again this side of heaven. The virus restrictions made that a sure impossibility. I wondered, “How many thousands of people are in this place?”
Even when you know death is imminent, are you ever prepared to fully embrace it? When those unbidden thoughts & memories bubble up to the surface, we fight to reject them. Karen has valiantly navigated a trail of health challenges, initially put in motion by a diagnosis of ovarian cancer in September 2017. Her final CT scan revealed that there were no more options. Nevertheless, we were not prepared to hear 2-3 weeks & home hospice on April 1. As shocking & as hard as this news was, my heart was comforted by her peaceful acceptance of God’s timing to bring her Home. To my knowledge she has left no stone unturned to bring needed healing to family relationships. We grieve for ourselves, not for the one we loved & lost. Surely, we would not wish for them to remain on earth, versus experiencing their complete freedom & healing in the presence of Jesus!
Whenever someone I know, or read about, has taken their last breath, my first thought is, “Were they ready?” At that juncture, the playing field is leveled no matter status, wealth, or position. Earthly standards of success are deemed irrelevant & there is not a second chance. The decision you made on earth, to receive Christ, or to deny His right to your life, will fully determine your eternal destination. My burden is this: There is a living death that can ruin your earthly existence & make your daily life torturous! This bondage in your real-time relationships suffocates your heart because of prideful unforgiveness. Bitterness has given way to a hardness. Even though you feel justified in the stand you’ve taken because of hurt, you live in your own emotional prison. It’s a horrible place to be…living with the enemy’s taunting in your mind.
The searing Truth is this. “If someone says, ‘“I love God.” & hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.’ (1 John 4:20) Jesus Christ died one time, for all sin, & declared “It is finished.” (Rom 6:10; John 19:30)
When we hold grudges, & are bitter and unforgiving…well, that’s true hatred. Essentially, it’s telling Jesus that He didn’t do enough, that He didn’t suffer enough, that He missed some sins & didn’t pay a high enough price for full redemption. He did not meet your standards. While His sacrifice pays for your sin, you’ve deemed it unfit to wipe the slate clean of those who hurt you! Please tell me you see the hypocrisy in this thinking??
God chose to forgive us before the Cross. To prove it, He sent His son to die while we were still sinners & didn’t see our need. The Cross was proof of His forgiveness. And His forgiveness is proof of His love. Before God Almighty, you cannot say that you love people while bitterness festers in your soul. Before God Almighty, you cannot say that you love Him & hate people. Before God Almighty, you cannot profess to love God while setting your own standards on Him. God does not sin. It is neither His nature nor expressed character. People sin because we are born spiritually separated from God. So do not blame Him for your wrong choices or for the sinful actions of others. No matter who is committing the offense, the answer is the same. Jesus Christ reconciled us to God the Father, making it possible to be reconciled to each other. We should be proof to a watching world that His sacrifice was enough.
‘I called on Thy name, O Lord, out of the lowest pit. Thou hast hear my voice, do not hide Thine ear from my prayer for relief, from my cry for help. Thou didst draw near when I called on Thee; Thou didst say, “Do not fear!” O Lord, Thou didst plead my soul’s cause; Thou has redeemed my life.’ I can so identify with the cries from Jeremiah’s heart in Lamentations 3:55-58. God reveals our true motives & hearts when we humble ourselves before Him. It’s pride that builds a stronghold of unforgiveness from bricks of bitterness. Living forgiving is evidence that you have embraced the Cross & believe that Jesus truly did pay it all.
I encourage you to watch this short video on forgiveness. https://youtu.be/zySOz5AqK8U