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#396491 - 05/08/12 08:07 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2588
A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
Job 6:14

At some point during the recovery process we re-examine our most fundamental beliefs. A long process of sorting, examining and questioning takes place. And, in that process, our relationship with God is challenged. It is possible that our relationship with God will deepen and strengthen in the process. But it is also possible that we will find ourselves pulling away from God. We may find ourselves angry with God, or afraid of God, or unable to believe in God at all. This can be a frightening experience. It can feel like the very foundations of life are being shaken.

In times like this, we need many things. But at the top of the list is our need for friends who will accept us even if we turn away from God. We need friends who will not minimize our struggle or discount our feelings. We need people who will not be shocked when we are full of rage at God. We need friends who are able to hear the deep pain behind our words and who know that this, too, is part of our healing. We need people who can see beyond the immediate pain to the healing that can come.

Even when we forsake the fear of God, we need friends who understand, who are committed to us for the long haul, and who plead with God on our behalf.

Sometimes I feel agnostic, Lord,
I just don't know anymore.
Sometimes I want nothing to do with you.
Where were you when I needed you the most?
Sometimes I despair, Lord.
Sometimes I can't seem to hope.

I need friends who will not abandon me, Lord.
I need friends who will be patient and grace-full with my anger and fear.
I need friends who will stay with me as we wait for you to show yourself once again.
I need friends, Lord, who will give me courage to hope again in you.
Send help, Lord.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#396582 - 05/09/12 07:48 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2588
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?
Psalm 13:1-2

Sometimes our spiritual distress is centered on questions about God. Where is God? Why doesn't God help? At other times our spiritual distress is centered on questions about ourselves. What is wrong with me? How come I'm still struggling this much?

Doubts about ourselves can be profoundly troubling. We wonder if our faith will survive the struggle. We wonder if our faith is strong enough. Often we feel like spiritual failures. The kind of spirituality we have been taught does not envision 'good' Christians as people who wrestle with their thoughts and are sad everyday. We think of 'good' Christians as people who trust God and manage to smile in the midst of any circumstances. When we can't manage to do this, we question and criticize ourselves.

But wrestling with our thoughts and experiencing sorrow day after day is often a part of the recovery process. It is not a sign of failure to engage in this hard work. It is a sign of courage. And it is a sign that our faith is alive and struggling. People of real faith struggle in life. People of real faith are people who wrestle with thoughts and who feel sorrow in their heart.

Lord, I get so tired of thought-wrestling.
And I am so weary of heart-sorrow.
How long, Lord?
How long does this wrestling and sorrow go on?

Help me, Lord, not to experience this struggle as spiritual failure.
Help me to see this hard work as drawing me closer to you.
Remind me today that you are with me in all of this.
Remind me today that you understand.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#397078 - 05/14/12 08:31 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2588
How long, O Lord, must I call for help but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Habakkuk 1:2-3,13

Where were you God? Where were you when I needed you? Didn't you see the violence? The abuse? The injustice? Didn't you care? There are times in recovery when we are full of questions about God. The pain of past trauma can be intensified when we begin to struggle with these hard questions about God.

It is important to acknowledge that these questions about God are not academic questions. No theoretical explanation of the problem of pain will soothe our raging, confused hearts. These are urgent, personal questions about God and about God's involvement in our lives. We want to know that God sees and cares and intervenes in our lives. We need God. We need God's love. We need God's help.

It is an important source of encouragement to know that we are not the first to ask these hard questions. There is clear biblical precedent for asking difficult questions about God. People of faith have always struggled with questions like these. We can take comfort and courage from knowing that the prophets also asked urgent questions similar to our own.

God, I am afraid.
I don't understand.
Violence and abuse happen and you do not stop it.
You seem absent.
You seem uncaring.
I need to know that you see and care.
I am calling to you for help, God.
Please hear me.
Please respond.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#397079 - 05/14/12 08:32 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2588
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

When a young child is separated from her parents, she will protest their absence. She will experience sadness, anxiety, anger and a longing for her parents to return. These intense emotions are not a sign of her failure as a child. Her protest is a clear sign of how important her parents are to her, of how much she misses them, of how much she loves them. At certain developmental stages, it is a sign of emotional health for a child to protest separation. At certain ages a healthy child will protest, will be angry, will be afraid, and will long for the parents return.

If one or both of our parents was in some way absent from our lives during our formative years, it will be easy for us to imagine that God will leave us as well. We may experience silence and distance. And we may find ourselves longing for God.

Just as it is good for a child to protest the absence of a parent, it is good for us to protest when we subjectively experience God's absence. It is good to give voice to our longing for God. It is good to write or pray or talk about our deep need for God's presence and love. We can call out to God. We can protest God's absence.

O God, do not be silent.
Do not be distant.
I miss you when you seem so far away.
I long for you to be close.
I long to know that you care about me.
I long for you, God.
Nothing can replace you.
No one can be God but you.
Do not be silent.
Do not be distant.
Come. Speak.
I need you. Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#397080 - 05/14/12 08:32 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2588
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has born? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.
Isaiah 49:15-16

We may experience abandonment from a spouse who turns away from us to their addiction of choice. We may experience feeling like we have been rejected by friends. We may struggle with memories of parents who were not compassionate with us. Or memories of parents who 'forgot' us in one way or another.

And so we say to God: "You will abandon and reject and forget me like all the others!"

Sometimes these experiences are so familiar that we expect them from anyone we want to be close to, including God. It is a terrible fear to live with. It creates deep distress.

God responds to our distress with words of reassurance. We are not always able to take in reassurance that is offered to us. But there are times when it can feel like a drink of cool water to our parched throats.

God says "I am not like all the rest. I will not forget you. Even if your parents forgot you, or your spouse turns away, or your friends leave, I will not forget you. I have tattooed you on the palms of my hand".

I will not forget you.

It may not be easy for us to comprehend, but it is very clear. God says; "I will not forget you."

I need reassurance, Lord.
I want to believe
that you will remember.
But I have been forgotten before.
I know you are not like that.
I know it in my head.
But my heart forgets so easily.
Reassure me, today, Lord
of your unfailing love.
Amen

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#397081 - 05/14/12 08:32 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2588
Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.
Hosea 6:3

There are days when we feel God's presence. We sense God's love. We see God's power. But we do not always feel or sense or see. There are times of silence, distance and uncertainty. There are the difficult times of waiting for God to appear. In times like this we may find ourselves both longing for God and fearing that God will come.

The longing comes because in our heart of hearts we know that there is no recovery without God's gracious presence. If God does not appear, we are stuck, bound, hopelessly entangled in dysfunction. If God does appear, it will be like the sun rising - we will be able to see the way. It will be like gentle rains which nurture us so that we can grow and thrive.

The fear comes because often we do not see God as one who comes as 'sun' and 'rain' to give life. We are afraid that when God does appear, it will be to punish us, to demand restitution from us, to shame us. Because we have served vengeful and vindictive gods, we fear that it will be the god-of-impossible-expectations who will finally appear.

We do well to follow the urging of this text to 'acknowledge God'. We need daily to examine whom we serve. When we acknowledge the god-of -impossible-expectations, then we will surely fear his appearing. But if we acknowledge the God of the Bible whose coming is to nurture and give life, then we will await God's coming like the dawn of a new day.

I acknowledge you, Lord.
You are not the god of impossible-expectations.
You are not the god-who-is-eager-to-punish.
I know what it is like when these other gods come.
They bring shame, blame and fear.
I do not acknowledge them, Lord.
I acknowledge you.

Come as the dawn of a new day, Lord.
Bring light into my dark days.
Come as gentle rain, Lord,
Cleanse, renew and nurture.
Come, Lord, as the dawn.
Come as the rains.
Water the parched earth of my soul.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#397082 - 05/14/12 08:32 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2588
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Many of us struggle with fear. It is a very uncomfortable emotion. We would be happy to be rid of it. It causes our hearts to race, our focus of attention to narrow, and terrible possibilities to enter our minds. We wish we could banish fear from our hearts by sheer will power. We wish we could simply stop feeling afraid. Unfortunately fear is not dismissed so easily.

There is something about texts such as this one that leave us very uncomfortable. The words "do not fear" seem like a simple command. God says "do not fear". It looks like a simple imperative. Our job is simply to obey. But, we cannot seem to obey. No matter how hard we try not to be afraid, we cannot seem to make our fears go away.

The key to understanding texts of this kind is to see that when God says 'do not fear', it is not a simple imperative from an authority figure. The words "do not fear" are spoken as words of comfort. And they are followed by a specific promise of God's presence with us.

A loving parent speaks to a child who awakens from a nightmare with words such as, "Don't be afraid. I'm here with you. You are safe." This is not a rejection of the child's fears. It is not an instruction to do the impossible. It is, rather, a promise of protection. If a parent says only "Don't be afraid," then the child learns that the parent doesn't understand and the child feels unprotected. But if the parent says "Don't be afraid, I'm here with you," the child's needs are validated and the child is comforted by the parent's protection.

God comforts us in the way a loving parent comforts a frightened child. God says to us, "I know that you are afraid; but I also want you to know that I am here with you. I will not leave you. I will give you strength. I will give you help. I will hold you by the hand so that you will not fall".

You know, God,
how often I am afraid.
And you know the soil in which these fears have grown.
And you know how I have struggled to be free from fear.
Help me to draw courage today from your presence.
Be with me.
Give me strength.
Help me.
Uphold me with your hand.
Still my fears, God of all Comfort.
Still my fears with your powerful love.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#397217 - 05/15/12 08:24 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2588
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

Sometimes it feels like our hearts are breaking.

And sometimes we worry that we will lose our minds.

Both our hearts and our minds need protection.

When we let go of the defenses that have protected us for so long, and we allow ourselves to be honest and vulnerable, it sometimes feels like we will 'come apart'. In these moments can find courage in God's promise of protection. God's peace can guard our breaking hearts and our troubled minds.

Notice that God's guardianship of our heart and mind is 'in Christ Jesus'. It is in Jesus that we see most clearly that God is 'for' us. God can be trusted to guard us because God cares about us. It is in Jesus that we see most clearly that God understands the dangers to our hearts and minds. God can be trusted to guard us because God knows from personal experience the dangers we face. It is in Jesus that we see most clearly God's power. God can be trusted to guard our hearts and minds because God has the resources to do what needs to be done.

The peace of God is not a 'blissed out' euphoria that helps us minimize or ignore our problems. God's peace does not participate in denial. This peace is not another Novocain, another 'fix' to alter our mood. It is the gentle guard that protects us so that we can face reality. It is the security that comes from knowing that God pays attention, that we are not forgotten, that God is with us, that we are loved.

Guard my breaking heart today, Lord.
Guard my troubled mind.
Let your peace do its work in me, Lord.
because I am in danger and I need your protection.
Guard me with your peace today.
Guard my heart and mind.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#397353 - 05/16/12 08:09 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2588
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Psalm 23:4

Sometimes the recovery journey takes us through the valley of the shadow of death. It is a frightening valley.

What a difference it makes in times like this to hear God's promise to be with us. It's not that the fears vanish, they don't always. But we experience them differently when we are not alone. When we are alone our fears can become the focus of our thoughts and feelings - they can consume all of our emotional resources. But when our journey is a shared one, fear does not have the same power over us.

God has made a very specific promise to us when we are going through the most difficult of life's struggles. God has promised to be with us. It is hard to say how God's presence will be made known. Our subjective experience of God's presence may vary widely. Sometimes when we least expect it, we may hear the still, small voice of God saying "I am here". Sometimes God will use a friend, a sponsor, a counselor, or someone in a support group to speak to us in ways that help us to remember that we are not alone. Sometimes God will give us a peace that needs no words.

The important reality is that God is with us. God does not come and go in the way our experience of God's presence comes and goes. God does not forsake us. God walks with us. Even through deep valleys.<

God, I am walking through a difficult valley right now.
Sometimes I think my heart will give way with fear.
Remind me of your presence.
Sometimes I know you are here.
Sometimes I'm sure you have gone.
Are you really here?
Please walk close beside me.
I need your protection.
I need your love.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#397479 - 05/17/12 08:20 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2588
If I go to the heavens, you are there; If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
Psalm 139:8

Sometimes life is hell. That's how it feels. It feels like we have taken up residence in hell. Sometimes the darkness overwhelms us. Sometimes we hurt so much that we can't imagine experiencing joy or peace ever again. Sometimes we seem to have 'made our bed ' in a place that God has deserted, a place from which God has turned away.

But the psalmist says 'even if I make my bed in the depths, you are there'. There are no genuinely God-forsaken places on our journey. There are no places unfamiliar to God. It is a difficult and painful journey, but our lines of support are not stretched thin. God is not at a distance. God is with us.

If God is with us, we can travel through those dark times in recovery, those times in hell. If God is with us, we can hold on through the difficult emotional and spiritual roller coaster of recovery.

No matter where I am, Lord
you are with me.
If I am up, today.
You are here.
If I am down.
You are here.
If I am very, very down.
You are still here.
If I am very, very, very, very, very down.
You are here.
Thank you.
Even in the terrible times when I am in the depths, you are there with me.
Your presence is a ray of hope
in the dark times of my recovery.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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