[“A Testimony of God’s Grace (Part I)” was written on March 3, 2015. If you wish to read it, you may go to https://lydslookonlife.wordpress.com and scroll down to find it. If you are already in my blog, you just have to scroll down to the post written on March 3, 2015. I waited until now to write “Part II” because I wanted to wait until I gave my “Testimony of God’s grace (Part II)” during a Sunday morning worship service, at my church, on May 3, 2015.]
What if I asked you, “What is your favorite book of the Bible?” This is just a hunch, but I’m guessing that not many of you, if any at all, would answer, “The Book of Lamentations.” I don‘t blame you. I myself am a Book of Numbers person —JUST KIDDING!!!
“Lamentation” means “funeral song” or “dirge.” The Book of Lamentations consists of five funeral songs probably written by the prophet Jeremiah shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem. Jeremiah “laments” over the loss of Jerusalem and the Temple of God, and mourns over the loss of a nation – God’s nation of Judah. Each chapter is a funeral dirge. But wait! There’s more.
Even though The Book of Lamentations may not make my “Top Five” most read books of the Bible, Chapter 3 contains the words of one of my favorite hymns: “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” In Lamentations, “Song 3” in the middle of Jeremiah’s graphic word pictures describing his sorrow over the suffering he sees and experiences, he also speaks of how God will use these times of grief to produce hope in a righteous God who is full of compassion and mercy. Jeremiah writes in Lamentations 3: 19 -23:
“Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. BUT, this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases: His mercies never come to an end: They are new every morning; GREAT IS YOUR FAITHFULNESS.”
In the midst of his anguish and even because of all he is going through, God reveals Himself to Jeremiah as the God of hope, steadfast love, endless mercy and great faithfulness. The Book Lamentations teaches us to be honest with one another in good times and in bad. It also teaches us to pray for one another, believing that God will answer our prayers in his perfect time.
Brennan Manning, author of The Ragamuffin Gospel, once said, “To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.” Manning also is quoted to say, “There is a beautiful transparency to honest disciples who never wear a false face and do not pretend to be anything but who they are.” This is why I am writing “A Testimony of God’s Grace (Part II).” There is something more I need to share with you. I pray that what I am about to share in the coming weeks will be glorifying to God and life-giving to all who read these blog posts.
In “Part I” what I shared was mostly the “good stuff.” In “Part II” I’m going to share “the rest of the story.” If I were to say to you, “When I became a Christian [when the Lord Jesus grabbed hold of my heart] at the age of eighteen, there has been nothing but “smooth sailing” ever since, what would you think? Hopefully, you would know that I was telling you a fairy tale. If not, I have some prime swamp land in Florida to sell you, near the Magic Kingdom, owned by Mickey Mouse. Jesus did not tell us that once we start following Him, all our struggles will disappear and we will “live happily ever after.” In John 16:33b, Jesus tells His disciples [that includes us], “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Jesus promises to be with us in our trials, help us through them and never leave us or forsake us. Jesus tells us, “I am the Good Shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep…My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand” [John 10:14-15, 27-28].
I know now, more than ever before, that Jesus is my Good Shepherd and that no one, not even the devil himself, is able to snatch me away from Jesus’ strong grip on my life. I know this to be true because of what happened to me in 2012. According to the Mayan culture and its Mesoamerican calendar, 2012 [December 21, 2012 to be exact] was to be the end of the world. 2012 was almost the end of me. In sharing “the rest of my story,” I pray God will use it to help others who are going through the same type of struggles; to give you hope and encourage you to find the help you need.
To be continued…