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Sunday, December 2, 2012

...Answers...


…Answers…
(Psa 3:3-5 NET)
But you, LORD, are a shield that protects me;7
you are my glory8 and the one who restores me.9

To the LORD I cried out,10
and he answered me from his holy hill.11 (Selah)

I rested and slept;
I awoke,12 for the LORD protects13 me.[1]

Somewhere, tonight, someone dear to me is searching for answers. She is not looking for a shoulder to cry on, nor is she looking for quick “oh I feel your pain” comments. She is not searching or reaching out to any of us around her; she is alone in her silence, alone in her pain of the loss of one(s) that has been so strong and acute that it has shattered the safety and sanity of the world she once knew. She is not looking for the words of comfort of men, but from a place deeper. She wants to hear the sound of what she knew, feel the touch of the hands that are no longer there, and put aside this darkness that is trying to smother her in its cold embrace. And I watch helpless in the night, not knowing what to say, or even how to respond. Some hurts are so deep that we mere mortals have no way to adequately deal with them, nor are we equipped to be able to provide the comfort needed. What she wants is answers, and I don’t have them. Even if I did, her response might be as Job’s:
(Job 21:34 NET)
 “…how can you console me with your futile words?           Nothing is left of your answers but deception!..."79 [2]

Answers. In the face of tragedy and loss, who doesn’t want them? We demand answers of all things in this life, some trivial, some profound, but we tend to question everything. Who among us in the role of a parent has not been bombarded by a young one with the never ending cry of “Why?”? We are born to question, and never is the need more heightened than when we face an overwhelming life changing event. In most cases, well intentioned people will offer up their best homilies in their attempt to show empathy with the ones affected by the loss, and as sincere as these are, they fall so short of what is truly needed. Sometimes silence is the only answer one should give; I have weighed the question, and this small epistle is my answer to it. For me, to be silent might be the best counter for the pain that is being dealt with, but my heart says that this is not an option. So what answers do I have to offer then? Scripture? Yes, there will be some of that, but Proverbs tell us that:

Pro 25:20  Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day,43 or like vinegar poured on soda,44
      so is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.45 [3]

Comforting as the words of Scripture may be, until a heart is ready to receive them, the net result may be worse than if they weren’t offered at all.

So is there a solution to the question of answers? Yes, but it isn’t found in the searching of the Word; at least not at first, for where does one begin? Surely we can just flip through the Holy Writ and hope something pops out at us; or maybe we just close our eyes and open the book randomly and focus our eyes on the middle of the page and pray there is something waiting for us… But what if the Holy Book you are reading isn’t the same as mine? What then? Do the words I try to impart to you hurt or hinder your healing in any way? How best to respond to the heart wrenching pain?
You see, even I am searching for answers.

No, this one is above my pay grade; this one has to come from the Throne of Grace itself. The Word says this:
(Php 4:6-7 CJB) Don't worry about anything; on the contrary, make your requests known to God by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving.
Then God's shalom (peace), passing all understanding,
will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with the Messiah Yeshua.

Yes it takes peace, and sometimes turmoil has to come first before that peace that passes understanding can come in and yield its healing powers. Sometimes it takes a gut wrenching scream to the heavens of “Why!”; sometimes it takes the rage of pain, shaking its fist at God and crying out “Unfair!” Why maybe we even have to cry out as the prophet Habakkuk did in his day:
(Hab 1:2-4 NET.)
How long, LORD, must I cry for help?
            But you do not listen!
            I call out to you, "Violence!"
            But you do not intervene! Why do you force me to witness injustice?
            Why do you put up with wrongdoing?
            Destruction and violence confront me;
            conflict is present and one must endure strife.
For this reason the law (Torah) lacks power,
            and justice is never carried out.
            Indeed, the wicked intimidate the innocent.
            For this reason justice is perverted. [4]

O beloved, how many times have I cried out to the heavens and not received an answer! O beloved, how many times have I raged at the King of Glory, cursed and cried till my throat was raw, and there was not a tear left to shed… My body racked with soul deep sobs, my eyes puffed shut, and a fetal position the only one that made sense, as I sought the comfort and the protection of the womb I had left so many years past… All I am saying here is this is not about me, but about the rending pain all, and I do mean all, of humanity has felt on an individual basis at one time or another…
For the one I love, please hear me… There are no easy answers, no quick solutions to your pain. But from experience I know what happens after the rage, the shock, the anger, the whimpers, the sobs… When I am drained of all I have, when I was at my most vulnerable, I got an answer.
“…Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world…”


There are times when the voice needs to be heard. In Exodus 19:9-11 Yahoveh Elohim said:
The LORD said to Moses, "I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and so that they will always believe in you." And Moses told the words of the people to the LORD. The LORD said to Moses, "Go to the people and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and make them wash their clothes and be ready for the third day, for on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people..." (" Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. www.bible.org All rights reserved. This material is available in its entirety as a free download or online web use at http://netbible.org/ .")

Here the voice of the Lord WAS in fire...

On the morning of the third day, there was thunder, lightning and a thick cloud on the mountain. Then a shofar blast sounded so loudly that all the people in the camp trembled. Moshe brought the people out of the camp to meet God; they stood near the base of the mountain. Mount Sinai was enveloped in smoke, because Adonai descended onto it in fire — its smoke went up like the smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain shook violently. As the sound of the shofar grew louder and louder, Moshe spoke; and God answered him with a voice. (Exo 19:16-19 Complete Jewish Bible, copyright 1998 by David H. Stern)

All that heard trembled:

(20:15) All the people experienced the thunder, the lightning, the sound of the shofar, and the mountain smoking. When the people saw it, they trembled. Standing at a distance, (20:16) they said to Moshe, "You, speak with us; and we will listen. But don't let God speak with us, or we will die." (Exo 20:15-16 Complete Jewish Bible, copyright 1998 by David H. Stern)

But here in our pain, and our hurt, the voice is a whisper. A small still voice speaks not from the thunder:
(1Ki 19:11-12 NET.)
The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD. Look, the LORD is ready to pass by."
A very powerful wind went before the LORD, digging into the mountain and causing landslides,
but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the windstorm there was an earthquake,
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake, there was a fire,
but the LORD was not in the fire.

After the fire, there was a soft whisper.[5]

In the soft whisper is the answer you seek. In the soft whisper is everything we seek.

It contains not only the voice of Elohim, but the voice of them you have lost; in the whisper is peace. O my beloved, there is peace. Not in a book, not in writings, but in the true encounter of the One who was dead, but is now alive. You don’t want to hear from the living? You don’t have a choice. He who speaks conquered the grave, and offers you His peace. When we are broken and no longer able to stand on our own, if we seek answers to questions we can’t even utter, when the emptiness threatens all we know, then will we hear Him, in the soft whisper of love.
This is the only answer I know how to give, one born from personal experience and pain. Though the wind blows, the earthquake shakes and the fire devours, none of these are as powerful as the whispered answer from a very real King and Master… May you find Him, may you be comforted.
You are loved, shalom….



[1] " Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. www.bible.org All rights reserved. This material is available in its entirety as a free download or online web use at http://netbible.org/ ."

Notes taken from the NET Bible® footnotes, copyright (c) 1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press L.L.C. All rights reserved. Used by permission from http://bible.org

7 tn Heb  "a shield round about me."
 8 tn Heb  "my glory," or "my honor." The psalmist affirms that the LORD is his source of honor, i.e., the one who gives him honor in the sight of others. According to BDB 459 s.v. II כָּבוֹד 7, the phrase refers to God as the one to whom the psalmist gives honor. But the immediate context focuses on what God does for the psalmist, not vice-versa.
 9 tn Heb  "[the one who] lifts my head." This phrase could be understood to refer to a general strengthening of the psalmist by God during difficult circumstances. However, if one takes the suggestion of the superscription that this is a Davidic psalm written during the revolt of Absalom, the phrase "lift the head" could refer to the psalmist's desire for restoration to his former position (cf. Gen_40:13 where the same phrase is used). Like the Hebrew text, the present translation ("who restores me") can be understood in either sense.
10 tn The prefixed verbal form could be an imperfect, yielding the translation "I cry out," but the verb form in the next line (a vav [ו] consecutive with the preterite) suggests this is a brief narrative of what has already happened. Consequently the verb form in Psa_3:4 (i.e., aPsa_3:4) is better understood as a preterite, "I cried out." (For another example of the preterite of this same verb form, see Psa_30:8.) Sometime after the crisis arose, the psalmist prayed to the Lord and received an assuring answer. Now he confidently awaits the fulfillment of the divine promise.
 11 sn His holy hill. That is, Zion (see Psa_2:6; Psa_48:1-2). The psalmist recognizes that the LORD dwells in his sanctuary on Mount Zion.12 tn The three verbal forms that appear in succession here (perfect + vav [ו] consecutive with preterite + perfect) are most naturally taken as narrational. When the psalmist received an assuring word from the LORD, he was able to sleep calmly. Because the LORD was protecting him, he awoke safely from his sleep.
 13 tn Or "supports"; "sustains." In this explanatory causal clause the imperfect verbal form probably has a habitual or present progressive nuance, for the psalmist is confident of God's continual protection (see Psa_3:3). Another option is to take the verb as a preterite, "for the LORD protected me." In this case, the psalmist focuses specifically on the protection God provided while he slept.

[2] " Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. www.bible.org All rights reserved. This material is available in its entirety as a free download or online web use at http://netbible.org/ ."

Notes taken from the NET Bible® footnotes, copyright (c) 1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press L.L.C. All rights reserved. Used by permission from http://bible.org
79 tn The word מָעַל (ma'al) is used for "treachery; deception; fraud." Here Job is saying that their way of interpreting reality is dangerously unfaithful.

[3] Ibid…  45 “…sn It is inappropriate and counterproductive to sing songs to a heavy heart. One needs to be sensitive to others…”
[4] " Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. www.bible.org All rights reserved. This material is available in its entirety as a free download or online web use at http://netbible.org/ ." (Authors note: emphasis mine)
[5] " Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. www.bible.org All rights reserved. This material is available in its entirety as a free download or online web use at http://netbible.org/ ." (Authors note: emphasis mine)