Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Past Grudges...Finding Peace.

 Habakkuk cried out, "O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?"
          "Why do you make me see iniquity and why do you idly look at wrong?"

God replied, "Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told."  Habakkuk 1:1-5

 I chatted about conflict a couple weeks ago.  It wasn't the last incident I would have.  Only a few days later, I was cornered and verbally attacked by someone from my past.  This was not something I provoked, nor was it something I knew was coming.  I wasn't prepared. 

  I was married once before.  That time in my life was heartbreaking. The lies I bought, bruises I obtained, fear I lived in, the shame and humiliation I carry still, they were all put neatly away in a package deep down in my heart that I labeled "peace."  Little did I know that my label was a facade.  Not that I dwelt on it daily, but I had not really been at peace with that time in my life.  I have always carried that past like a scarlet letter on my sleeve.  Others might not be aware it is there, but I am.  Rather than resigning it to the Lord's care, I chose to ignore it hoping that eventually it would be erased and I would truly have peace.  The prayers I cried out to God seemed to go unanswered.

 Funny thing about how the Lord works.  What others or the enemy intend for evil, GOD uses it for our good.  To refine us and make us more like His reflection.  He uses those things to remind us how BIG He is and how small we are.  Small and in desperate need for HIM.  It isn't to put us in our place like a bully would, but to prove to us HIS power and everlasting care for his children.  We are never beyond his hand.  Just as a small child cries when they are injured or seek justice, whether self-inflicted or not, God as our Father patches us up, makes us whole again with a lesson for us to learn.  It makes us stronger, but more dependent on Him.  Sometimes that comes while we are  praying for so long to see His hand bring justice. 

  That day was painful.  Old scars had been ripped open and the hurt, anger, and desperation overwhelmed me.  I couldn't breathe.  I went into retreat mode and shut everyone out.  To speak was painful and I found no joy in anything. I remembered the details.  I remembered the fear.  I remembered the hopelessness.  I remembered the shame.  What I forgot is how BIG my God is.  I knew where I needed to be.  I know better.

  No, I don't have it all together.  No, I don't always respond to God the first time and it is all better.  Many times I pray and God seems silent.  Many times my prayers seem unanswered.  I am thankful that my relationship with Jesus Christ isn't entirely dependent on me.  God did not forget me.  He fed me.  He comforted me.  He encouraged me.  HE restored me.  HE provided the peace I tried to obtain on my own. I am confident that He is always at work, even when I don't see or understand how.

  It is easy to want retribution for those who sin against us.  It is easy to harbor anger and long for justice.  I wanted that.  I wanted the pain that was inflicted on me that day to be intensely felt by the accuser.  I wanted to pack the pandora's box back up and stuff it down.  What God required of me is to lay it down.  I needed to remember what HE did for me on the cross so that I didn't have to live in fear and shame. I needed to wait.  I needed to remember who HE is and look for Him working.

  What God did was whisper to me.  It wasn't an epipheny or some grand entrance He made.  It was in a simple prayer.  It was a comment made by a friend.  It was a protection provide by an unexpected source.  He whispered to my hurt and calmed the rage in my heart.  My past is what it is.  I can not change it.  I cannot live in fear of it.  I cannot let it consume and control me.  I cannot let the scarlet letter dictate how others see me or how I think God sees me.  When He looks at me, He sees the blood of HIS ONLY SON that paid my price for sin.  HE sees a relationship reconciled.  He sees a small child in desperate need of His hand.

  I CAN chose to look at the blessings God has given me because of my past.  I don't believe it is inspite of.  I truly believe that what was meant for evil, GOD has used for good and will continue to.  I CAN lay my chains down, the scarlet letter and the shame.  I CAN remember who is in completely control.  I CAN rejoice.  It doesn't mean that everything is fixed. It is a process, but it is also part of my testimony.

  How many times have you prayed for God to do something yet it seems like it is unanswered? Can you find God in the daily provisions even if your prayer hasn't been answered yet?  Can you trust God that what lies beneath the surface He is aware of before you are?  Can you believe that HE is working even when is seems that He isn't?

  While reconciliation was not possible in my situation, and the scars still need healing, I can be at peace.  I have seen God do great things while I wait for Him to answer my prayer for healing.  God works even when I don't see it.  Habakkuk saw this too.  After praying for so long, he wondered if God would ever answer and restore justice.  He was not at peace.  There was conflict and pain, sin and sorrow all around him.  He cried out!

  God answered him with a vision.  God told him to wait for it.  It will come.  God would use an army who sought to bring destruction and conflict on others for their own pleasure.  That army was going to bring justice on themselves too by God's hand. God would use the evil to restore.  He used it for good.  Habakkuk wrestled with this.  He didn't understand how God was working.  (http://www.gty.org/resources/bible-introductions/MSB35/habakkuk)

I believe, in the end, that Habakkuk resolved he didn't need to understand God's plan but to simply trust that God would carry it out.  "Yet I will quietly wait..."

  "Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yeild no food, the flock be cut off from the the fold and there be no hear in the stalls, YET (emphasis mine) I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation." Hab 3:17-18

  I don't have to understand why God allowed the conflict to come but I can wait and take joy in my salvation that GOD will do as He promised.  In that promise, I find peace.