224. The grip of the terrible

My mind reels, horror overwhelms me; The twilight I longed for has been turned into fear and trembling for me. (Isaiah 21:4, Amp)

What is going on in 2022 so far? I “see” sorrow, I hear of tragedy,  I “feel” the sharp sting of evil.  I can go further and “smell”  the death and destruction of another cruel war on the  European continent and “taste” the soot and hunger of suffering in my mouth.  Do you feel the grief and distress of stunned parents in the face of unbearable, mind-blowing violence that killed their children with their teachers on an ordinary school day – a day marked in darkness that a community will never forget. 

“We looked for peace, but no good came;
And for a time of health, and there was trouble! 
 (Jeremiah 8:15)

Did we look for health after the pandemic?  Trouble came.  Closer to home a dear friend’s husband passes away after a long struggle with arthritis that  afflicted him since he was nine years old.  Just a  week or so ago he turned seventy-seven years old.  In a neighbour’s  house Covid works its way  through the whole family and all four children have to stay home from school.  Then the youngest is diagnosed with pink eye and again  the whole house is impacted.  A tired, busy mum said it started in April.  Another friend’s boy of twelve suffers unexplained, severe headaches that affects his learning and life as a whole.  Then someone else also mentioned struggle that peaked in April just before Passover.  Since April I have experienced one of the most demanding and strenuous challenges of my life.  I will remember 2022.

I will remember 2022 – so much more for another reason. Somewhere  in January I remembered that it was in April 1972 that I made the life-changing decision to give my life to Jesus Christ and in child-like faith crown him as my Lord and Master.  It is fifty years ago and according to biblical precepts it is my Year of Jubilee – a year of feasting and rejoicing in the goodness of God.

Maybe my feast does not look like I expected.  My table is laid in the wilderness and my cup runs over with the healing oil of the Holy Spirit, who comforts and guides me.  My footprints can be found on the stormy sea  where my Master invites me out of the boat.  I am tested and shaken, I sink and swallow the storm until my stomach aches with fear and distress.  Then I feel the outstretched Arm of the Almighty that plucks me out of wild waters until my feet find the secure place on the Rock of Salvation. (Isaiah  40:10,11; 51:5; 52:10)

Every day the devotional is spot on my circumstances and soul-mood.  Could it ever be coincidence, when that word together with luck and fate have been banned out of my vocabulary?  No,  a thousand times no.  It is grace and provision, new mercies every morning and the eye of God leading me. (Psalms 32:8)

Every time I grab my  Bible I “hear” the still, small voice of Jesus thundering over my situation, burning the promises into my heart.  I read in various places, memorize and write dates in the margin.  One teary morning I read the Psalms of the dates of the difficult days.  Every word was healing and hope.

Then one day I read Jeremiah 15 where my Bible-brother hits crisis.  His words penetrates into the deep crevices of my suffering soul.

O Lord, You know;
Remember me and visit me,
And take vengeance for me on my persecutors.
In Your enduring patience, do not take me away.
Know that for Your sake I have suffered rebuke.
16 Your words were found, and I ate them,
And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart;
For I am called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts.
17 I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers,
Nor did I rejoice;
I sat alone because of Your hand,
For You have filled me with indignation.
18 Why is my pain perpetual
And my wound incurable,
Which refuses to be healed?
Will You surely be to me like an unreliable stream,
As waters that fail?

The stinging sorrow and deep doubt that his words conveyed cut my heart.  I  was stunned.  While reading I realized that my cup is full of promises of hope and deliverance.  I praise the Lord for it.  Then I continued reading – God’s answer to Jeremiah.  I rejoiced.  I danced to celebrate my Jubilee in a way I never thought possible.

Thus says the Lord!

The Lord Reassures Jeremiah

19 Therefore thus says the Lord:

“If you return,
Then I will bring you back;
You shall stand before Me;
If you take out the precious from the vile,
You shall be as My mouth.
Let them return to you,
But you must not return to them.
20 And I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall;
And they will fight against you,
But they shall not prevail against you;
For I am with you to save you
And deliver you,” says the Lord.
21 “I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked,
And I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible.” 
 (Jeremiah 15:19-21)

Pebble-pal, whatever the terrible is that grips you in this moment- God is mighty to save.  Sing with the Psalmist.

Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle
.  (Psalms 24:8,9)

Rejoice – our God reigns!

For You have been a strength to the poor, A strength to the needy in his distress, A refuge from the storm, A shade from the heat; For the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.  (Isaiah 25:4)

The blast of the terrible will be a storm against the wall – the fortified  bronze wall that God makes us. 

For the terrible one is brought to nothing, The scornful one is consumed, And all who watch for iniquity are cut off—  (Isaiah 29:20)

But thus says the Lord: “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, And the prey of the terrible be delivered; For I will contend with him who contends with you, And I will save your children. (Isaiah 49:25)

Our promise for the  future.

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