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#370553 - 09/20/11 07:51 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
Daily Meditation for Tuesday 20th of September 2011

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice. Let you ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
Psalms 130:1-2

Grief is often experienced as being 'in the depths'. Sometimes it feels like we have been swallowed up by grief. Our bodies ache. Our minds can't focus. Our hearts feel like they will break.

Our cry for help during times of grief may seem desperate and feeble. We want to believe that God hears us. We want to believe that God is attentive to our pain. But we feel uncertain.

One of the most difficult experiences during seasons of grief is feeling as if our crys for help fall on deaf ears. Like the psalmist, we find ourselves pleading with God to pay attention. God, who may have seemed so present and attentive when our pain was less intense, can seem strangely absent just when we need God most. When we are in the most pain, we are often least able to experience God's loving presence.

This subjective experience of God's inattentiveness can be terrifying. But it can also be the starting point for growing a deeper and more meaningful faith. A faith that has found the courage to honestly face these experiences of God's absence will be a transformed faith. A faith that has survived a season of grief will have experienced the realities of the spiritual life at a much deeper level. From experiences of this kind we can learn to give up simplistic spiritualities. We can learn to pray with more honesty and integrity.

Can you see me, God?
Can you hear me?
Listen!
Pay attention!
I am calling to you for help.
I am overwhelmed with sorrow.
Have mercy on me.
Hear my cry for help.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#370636 - 09/21/11 08:07 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.
Matthew 2:18

There are times when there is no consolation for grief. There is no comfort. In these times we feel that those who try to comfort us do not understand the vastness of our pain. All we know, all we see, is the terrible loss we have suffered. The world feels as if it should stop. Nothing matters but our loss.

We weep and rage and long for the return of what we have lost.

This happened to many of the families living in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus' birth. In hopes of killing the Messiah, Herod ordered that male child under two years old in that town be put to death. It was into this world of violence and terror that Jesus was born. The Christmas story is not a fairy tale with happy endings, but a story about real life and terrible loss.

There are times in our lives for weeping without comfort, for weeping with anguish and rage. God has come before into times like this. God comes as well into our times of anguish and rage. Because God comes there will eventually be a time to be comforted. And a time to heal. And a time to go on.

But there is a time to weep. It cannot be rushed, or bypassed. There is a time for weeping.<

God, hold me when I weep,
when I refuse comfort,
when I cannot see beyond this pain.
Give me courage to grieve deeply, Lord.
Help me to tolerate the silence,
as I wait for you to speak.
Help me to survive the loneliness
as I await your coming.
Help me to grieve in ways
that draw me closer to you.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#370739 - 09/22/11 08:01 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Isaiah 53:3

Many people have the impression that good Christians are happy, joyful, victorious people. In this fantasy, good Christians are people whose problems seem to vanish when they trust God and pray about it. Unaffected by the pain of life, these relentlessly cheerful people read the Bible, sing praise songs and feel no pain.

Yet Christians are at heart the followers of a man who was named 'man of sorrows.' Jesus was not relentlessly cheerful. He did not practice a mood altering, pain-numbing religion. He grieved. He wept. He was familiar with suffering. Our God is a God who knows suffering. God grieves.

In those times when we shame ourselves for our sorrow, it can be an enormous encouragement to remember that God is personally familiar with grief. If God grieves, we can expect to do the same.

God, you surprise me again!
When I grieve, I think that if I could just cheer up,
you would be pleased.
But, you grieve also.
Man of Sorrows you are acquainted with sorrow.
Thank you for understanding.
Thank you for grieving.
Help me to experience your presence in my time of grief.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#370808 - 09/23/11 07:51 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

Many people are convinced that when they are brokenhearted, when they grieve deeply over their losses, that God is displeased. God is sometimes seen as a person who expects us to be happy even in the face of trauma and loss. God is someone who asks us to 'snap out of it' and 'cheer up'. As a result, we anticipate rejection rather than compassion.

How surprising it is to hear that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted! God does not expect cheerfulness. God does not reject us. God is compassionate and responsive. God is close - not far away.

In dysfunctional families difficult emotions often result in withdrawal and isolation. It is this kind of emotional distance that we now expect from God. It is not always easy to trust God to be close to us when we are brokenhearted. And it is not always easy to allow ourselves the vulnerability of such closeness. But God is eager to heal us, to restore us and to save us when our spirits are crushed.

When I was angry, Lord,
I was sent to my room.
"Don't come out until you have a smile on your face!"
When I was sad, Lord
I was told to cheer up.
"Just snap out of it!"

Now I expect to be abandoned, Lord.
I expect to be left alone with my pain.
I expect to be lonely in my brokenness.

When I am broken hearted,
When I am crushed in spirit,
Help me to rest in your promise to be close.
Help me to rest in your promise to save.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#370918 - 09/24/11 10:39 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Isaiah 40:29
Grief is exhausting. Physically we are fatigued. Mentally we are spent. Emotionally we are drained. Spiritually we are crushed. Weariness seems to cast a shadow over all of life. We drag through the days. We are without strength and without power.

Our bodies need to be refreshed with sleep and recreation. Our minds need to be stimulated with hopeful thoughts about our future. Our hearts need to be soothed. Our spirits need to be infused with a desire to engage in life again.

God comes to us in the weariness and weakness of grief with gifts of strength and power. God does not shame us for our weakness. God does not reject us for being too weary to function. We may be tempted to refuse God's gifts either because we want to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, or because we don't believe we are entitled to receive good gifts. But, nevertheless, God offers us good gifts in seasons of grief. God offers strength and power. When we can admit our need and are ready to be honored by the Giver of these gifts, they can be ours.

I am weary, Lord.
Sometimes I think I am suppose to stay weary.
I do not feel entitled to be strong.
And sometimes I want to manage without your help.
I don't feel that I deserve help.

Thank you for your offer of strength and power.
Give me strength today.
Give me the power I need to make it through this day.
Give me the grace to accept your gifts.
Strengthen and empower me as I grieve today.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#371016 - 09/25/11 09:44 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Matthew 5:4

Jesus pronounced a blessing on people who are courageous enough to grieve. Nothing could be more surprising than this. When we grieve, we often feel like spiritual failures. But God sees things differently. From God's perspective, mourning is valued. It is an occasion for blessing. It comes with the opportunity for comfort.

To be comforted is to be held in the safety of arms you trust. To be comforted is to weep and rage in the company of someone who loves us. The hard edges of the pain are soothed. Strength and hope return in some measure. Healing begins.

Grieving is a commitment to the hard work of facing reality and allowing ourselves to feel the full range of emotions God has given us. It is painful work. But it is work that is blessed by God.

Father of comfort,
you are my refuge and strength,
my help in times of trouble.
Were it not for your faithfulness,
I would hide from my pain.
I would choose not to see my losses.
I would not be able to face what has happened.
Man of sorrow, teach me to grieve.
Give me the courage to mourn
so that I can be comforted.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#371071 - 09/26/11 08:41 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habakkuk 3:17-18

Sometimes it feels like life is the experience of loss upon loss. There are times when losses are all we can see. We are like this farmer taking inventory. The figs, the grapes, the olive crop, and the wheat are all lost. The sheep and the cattle are gone. There is nothing left, and nothing to hope for. In times like this we are in danger of believing that fear and sorrow are our only companions.

If the inventory of our lives stopped here, then all would be lost. We would be without hope. But there is more to the story of our lives than our inventory of losses can ever show. We can return again to the hope that God is bigger than all of the losses of life. No matter how long our inventory of losses may be, we can find in God a peace and hope that reshapes our struggle. The losses do not magically disappear. But, when we turn our hearts toward God, we know again that there is more to our life story than losses. We do not want the bottom line of our life's story to read "this was a person who experienced many losses". As each day we turn our hearts again to God, we are writing a life story that will end with "though the losses were painful, this was a person who found deep joy in God's love."

Lord, my losses are many.
Help me not to pretend about them.
Help me to grieve, Lord.
But help me as well to turn my heart toward you.
Even as I grieve,
help me to find
joy in you.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#371142 - 09/27/11 07:55 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
Matthew 9:12

One of the most remarkable features of the human condition is our capacity to pretend that we are healthy when our lives are in total chaos.

We work hard to cover up our problems and flaws in our character. We will sacrifice almost anything to keep from facing the truth about ourselves. We work this hard to look good because we experience our human needs, limits and failures with deep shame - a shame that drives us to strive harder and harder to look better and better. We sacrifice our serenity, our relationships, our sanity on the altar of perfectionism. We also sacrifice any possibility of getting the help we need by continuing to insist that "we can handle it."

God does not ask such sacrifices from us. God has no need for us to be perfect. Jesus speaks to us gently but very clearly about this issue. He confronts our pretense, shame and perfectionistic strivings. He says in effect "you do not have to sacrifice yourself in this way. You do not have to drive yourself like this. I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I want you to learn to be mercy-full to yourself. Be compassionate with yourself. It will free you to accept your need of healing. It will allow you to acknowledge your longing for me."

Jesus was saying "I did not come to pass out blue ribbons to the people who have all the answers and have worked hard to prove themselves. I came to bring hope and healing to people who know they need help." We can stop shaming and condemning ourselves because God does not shame or condemn us. God knows our brokenness, our pain, our need. We can give up our attempts to prove ourselves and acknowledge our need for help and healing.

Lord, I don't want to be needy.
I want to be strong for you.
But, I can't sustain the pretense any longer
I have nothing to show for all my efforts to look good.
All I have done is shut you out of my life.

Today I acknowledge my need for you, Lord.
I need your healing and your forgiveness.
I am not healthy.
I need a doctor.
I need you.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#371214 - 09/28/11 08:52 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
One who was there had been an invalid for thirty eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition a long time he asked him, "Do you want to get well?"
John 5:5-6

Do you want to get well?! What a shocking question. Isn't the answer obvious? Why even ask?

One of the most confusing parts of the recovery process is the fact that we have many layers of resistance to recovery. As we begin to see the changes which recovery will demand, we begin to see how attached we have become to our existing way of life. Sometimes we play games to hold on to the past. We have a good friend who prayed early in recovery that God would deliver her from alcoholism so that she could continue to drink! We are all like this - we want healing but we fear the changes which healing will bring.

Sometimes the fear of recovery comes from the fact that we can't imagine any way of being in the world other than what we have known. A life consumed with despair, rage and self-loathing may seem pretty awful, but its the only life we may have known. Any change may seem risky and uncertain.

God is not ignorant of our resistance to healing. God asks the difficult question: "Do you want to get well?" It's not always as obvious as it seems. The 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous addresses this issue when it talks about being "entirely ready" for God to change us. The process of becoming "entirely ready" is at the heart of the struggle of recovery. Our hearts and minds are being prepared to answer 'yes' to God's offer of wholeness.

My answer to your question, Lord, is yes.
I am ambivalent at times.
I am uncertain and afraid at times.
But, I do want to get well.
The answer is yes.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#371295 - 09/29/11 08:12 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.
Matthew 8:2-3

There is a wonderful simplicity about this story - it summarizes a great deal of life in a few words. A man recognizes his need, comes, kneels, asks, is touched by Jesus and is cured. Many of us are living this story. We recognize our need. We come. We kneel. We ask. We await God's touch. We experience God's healing.

We would like our recovery to be just this simple. We want recognizing our need to be simple. We want our 'coming' to be simple. And we want our 'kneeling' to be simple. And we want our 'request' to be simple. And we want God's touch and healing to be immediate, tangible, simple.

There are, unfortunately, a few complications. For people who have lived in denial, 'recognizing our need', 'coming' and 'kneeling' are all major changes in the way we normally function. We have grown so accustomed to (and so attached to) our dysfunctions! So, recovery requires change. And change is always difficult - even when we call the change a 'healing.'

What is most helpful in this text is Jesus' clarity about his desires for us. Those of us who have been damaged by shame can expect to be uncertain about God's desires for us. Jesus is clear that it is God's desire for us to be healed. Our Healer wants to give us the gift of wholeness. When we recognize our illness and we 'come' and 'kneel' and 'ask', then there is no uncertainty in Jesus' response. He says "I am willing for you to be free of this affliction. I want health and joy for you.

I'm not sure you want to heal me, Lord.
Are you willing?
Or are you eager to punish?
Are you the god-of-impossible-expectations?
Are you pleased when I suffer?
Or are you willing to heal me?
I need healing, Lord.
But, more than healing, I need you.
Help me today to experience your desire to heal.
Help me today to experience your eagerness to heal, Lord.
Prepare me to receive your gift of healing.
Heal me.
Amen

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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