Monday, February 27, 2012

Comfort for the Parched and Dry

"O God, You are my God; 
earnestly I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You,
my body longs for You,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water."
~ Psalm 63:1 ~

Many times in our years overseas, I walked through "valley" times.  During those 6 years, I had 3 babies, miscarried one, lived in 10 residences (that's if you only count the ones we lived in for 2 months or longer), learned how to cook, began learning how to clean house, began homeschooling, started learning Mandarin, and became nearly fluent in Turkish, and probably did many other stress-inducing things too that just aren't coming to mind @ present.  There were often times when I was juggling multiple items I've just listed while walking through what has been termed "deserts of the soul".  (Not to be confused with desserts of the soul which sounds tasty & desirable.)

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 
who comforts us in all our affliction, 
so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, 
with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." 
~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ~

Believing 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 to be true, I want to share some of the things that comforted me when I was "parched and dry".

  1. Remember that God is near.
  2. Remember that God sees the big picture.
  3. Remind yourself of the big picture.
  4. Do what is needful/Make your life as sane as possible.
(1) God is near-- Acts 17:27-28 says: "they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.  Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for 'In Him we live and move and have our being." The truth is that whether you have had your "quiet time", whether you have just yelled at your child, whether you are in the shower, no matter what, "He is not far from each one of us."  He is near.  He knows our hearts (Prov 15:11), and He knows our thoughts.  For me, there was great comfort once I mentally acknowledged His constant presence in my life.  It did not CHANGE that He was present (He always was), but it CHANGED my awareness of Him being near.  God is near to you; acknowledge Him & invite Him into your busy, tired days.

(2) God sees the big picture-- Consider the Israelites.  When Abraham was given a promise by God about his descendants, He told Abraham:
"Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years.  But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions."
He knew in advance that they would suffer.  It was part of His plan.  He has the wide view of history... and yet He understands our weakness, and even Christ cried out to the Father in moments of heartache and weariness.  He tells us in Philippians that it has been granted to us that we should suffer (1:29)... this does not seem like a granting of anything good, but in the context it is. But His plans are good, and we can trust Him, even if we are suffering.  Here's a song on this subject that has comforted and taught me a great deal as I've sung it and taken it to heart over the last 4+ years:

(3) Remind yourself of the big picture-- If your weariness is routine difficulty/exhaustion (i.e., pregnancy, difficult season at work, having a toddler, etc.), take the "birds' eye view".  Consider the eternal impact of what you are doing... what you are building into your child, doing through your work as unto the Lord, or the value of the human lives you are pouring yourself out for.  If your weariness is from something unusual (perhaps a medical situation, recent death of someone close to you, or something else weighty and difficulty), view it in the scheme of eternity... what is God teaching you?  How might He make you more like Jesus through this situation?  How will He be glorified in this circumstance?  What comfort is He offering to you that you can later offer to others?

(4) Do what is needful/make your life as sane as possible-- On this point, I think this is something that some people do naturally, so you may be thinking, "yeah, duh", but other people might see this as self-seeking & wrong.  Several of God's commands to us (i.e., "love your neighbor as yourself") assume that we care for ourselves.  We are right to meet our own needs with the resources God has given us.  Sometimes God has a purpose for us and intends for us to stay in the desert, but sometimes we can take a different "road" and hightail it out of the desert.

A hot bath, or taking 20 minutes to read, might be just the thing you need to relax.  Spending time listening to an audio Bible could be a great thing to "re-tank" while you do routine tasks.  Consider what plans or routines might help you be more sane-- a meal plan? A chore chart for your kids to help shoulder the load?  A plan for dealing more intentionally with the laundry mountain?  Perhaps you don't have a good sleep routine for your kiddos and could really benefit from a few weeks of careful training in this area so that you and your husband could have regular times together in the evenings.  What things can you build into your life that will help you, over the long haul, manage things well & stay sane?  Do those things.

Sometimes making these kinds of changes will propel you out of the desert, and other times, it will simply make the desert more survivable.  Either one of these is a good thing.

OK, I think these are some of the things God has taught me in the "down" times of life.  I hope this will help others who are in need of some relief from the dry and weary land.

Image: TeddyBear[Picnic] /


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