Restore

I loved sitting in the front row in school. I loved raising my hand. I loved having the answer. Yes. I was that student. I was also quick to listen to my friends’ problems and have some sage, pre-teen advice to give. Whether it was Sunday School, church youth group, or our weekly breakfast after service, I loved to answer biblical questions too. I loved learning and I loved having answers. This last decade has been almost an untangling of that innate impulse in me to have an answer. Sometimes the questions in life are far more complex and it’s our pride that makes us believe we can answer them all.


When I first started as a nurse in the NICU, I had my very first “crisis of faith.” I was overwhelmed with how terribly things can go wrong for families and babies. Our NICU is a part of a facility equipped to do neonatal surgery and ECMO (essentially heart and lung bypass for infants), and we see infants with terribly complex genetic disorders and extremely premature infants. The outlook for many of our patients is equally complex, and in my first year there, I was wrecked. How could the God I loved allow such suffering to exist?


Then Peter and I entered into ministry and began to see the impact of life—broken marriages, infidelity, childhood cancer, and the list goes on. It felt like wave after battering wave of unrelenting grief, sadness and overwhelm. I lived a life of very reluctant ministry for a long time as a pastor’s wife. I said “yes” to church planting, but when the emotional cost was more fully apparent, I grew restless and reluctant with my “yes.” My heart ached.


These were incredibly challenging seasons for me personally, and I wrestled a lot with God and Peter. Hindsight always fill in gaps that, at the time, were hazy. However, I learned you cannot pass judgments on your past self with the understanding your present self now has; yet looking back with critical eyes helps you to see patterns underneath the surface which help to inform present thought, action and growth.


Through these years, I was battling with rampant emotions. I am a naturally empathetic person. This was challenging on multiple fronts: my job at the hospital, my proximity to brokenness through Peter’s work, the challenging work of helping small children manage their emotions and dealing with the hormonal shifts that came with my childbearing. I was living in a powder keg of emotional turmoil without the maturity or insight how to manage.


Then 2020 hit. We were walking through a whole Bible-reading plan as a church. Once we reached the minor prophets, it felt like a commentary on our present. People everywhere were aching in new, terrifying ways, and the prophets gave language to that pain. And I finally realized how guarded I have always been with God. My “have the answer” nature backfires when there is no explanation for the pain. And what I need is to be raw, honest, and angry toward the Lord—not at the Lord, always, but angry in His presence. I believed the lie for too long that behavior was shameful before Him. The psalmists, prophets and poets all felt the full gambit of human emotion before the Lord, and I could too.


The Lord was teaching me to lament. And Restore was born from that lesson buried in Lamentations and Isaiah.


The joy of our hearts has ceased

Our dancing has turned to mourning

The crown has fallen from our head

Woe to us, we have sinned


Weeping into the night

Tears streaming down our cheeks

No one left to comfort

Woe to us, we have sinned


chorus

Restore, restore our days of old

Restore, restore us, O Lord


The joy of our hearts has ceased

Our dancing has turned to mourning

The crown has fallen from our head

Woe to us, we have sinned

chorus

Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried all our sorrows,

We esteemed Him not, He was struck down and crushed for us,

He has brought us peace, and by his wounds we all are free

Yet we like sheep still go astray, and each turn our own way



Last Fall, I went to counseling for the first time. I cannot recommend this practice enough. As I honestly discussed my aching heart with this beautiful woman of God, she pointed me to Romans 12:9:


Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.


I am allowed, in the presence of God, to hate the world in which infants die and marriages crumble and calamity strikes. I am also allowed to hope. Hope that God will keep His promises, He will come again, and He will make everything new. While I wait, I can lament. While I wait, I can be His agent of “new” in the midst of the broken. While I wait, I can look more like Jesus and shine His light anywhere that I can. Isaiah spent much of his ministry pointing out Israel’s sin, and impending destruction. He also pointed to the hope of a Promised One—the One who would be crushed on our behalf. The two largest themes in the Psalms are the importance of meditating on the Torah (first five books of the Bible) and the promise of the Better King that we talked about last week. The people of God do not have to blindly ignore the wretchedness of this world in order to follow God in radical faith. We do not have to put our heads in the ground as the world around us suffers. We cry out to God in lament, beg Him to bring His justice here, and cling with every fiber of our being to the hope that He is coming to make all things new.

I have far less answers than I did when I was younger. What I have learned, though, is that my presence is more meaningful than the words I say. Let my words be few, and let my heart be felt. This is the gift God gives us in our lament. He gives Himself.


95 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
poems of grace logo black.png