I’ve had my share of “bad news.” I know you have too if you have lived long enough. I read somewhere that grief feels a lot like fear, and I admit this has been my experience. The inevitable, the avoid-at-all-costs thing that rears its ugly head and becomes a reality sometimes hits hard and fast, sometimes grows heavier with each passing day. When the future looms dark and petrifying, I want to deny, deflect and pretend.
I imagine Ezekiel (chapter 37) trying to find hope to share with God’s people following Jerusalem’s destruction. Here is a question God does not ask every day: “Son of Man, can these bones live?” Here is Ezekiel… carried away by the Spirit to a valley littered with long-dead, very-dry bones. His answer reveals his total bewilderment given the obviously hopeless circumstances: “Lord God, only You know.”
As I contemplate God’s answer to Ezekiel, I see parallels to God’s intervention in our lives today. During the dry times, the hard and broken times, can God breathe new life into us, into me—despite the reality before me? Can we believe enough to act, as Ezekiel does, even when all the evidence says nothing can be done? God could have breathed life into those old bones without Ezekiel’s help. But maybe, exactly for Ezekiel’s sake, God invited him to participate in the seemingly futile task before them.
There is much dignity in participating in seemingly worthless efforts, when all seems lost, if He asks me to. There is even a greater dignity in sharing in the sufferings of Christ. He faced it all, took up His cross, and moved up that dreaded hill. In his agony, he moved in love to forgive the unforgivable, ensured his mother’s future, saved the damned sinner…
If my Lord is all that He says He is, I have the power of the resurrection at my disposal. Isn’t that what Ezekiel had in that valley of death? Can my weary bones stand, move forward, and love?
What is the state of your soul today? What dry, dead places need His cooling breath to revive and strengthen them? How is He asking you to move into your world for the sake of another?
For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their Shepherd;
He will lead them to springs of Living Water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
—Revelation 7:17 NIV
Poem for an Anxious World
by Glen Scrivener
For our anxious little realm,
for the fears that overwhelm . . .There is a throne.
For mistakes we can’t forget,
and the sins that still beset . . .We have a Lamb.
For our lost and lonely hearts,
for our gnarled and tangled paths . . .We have a Shepherd.
For our dry and listless souls,
and our thirst for being whole . . .We have a Stream.
For regret and ravaged years,
for all sweet and bitter tears . . .We have a Father.
For treks through burning sands,
To our home in promised lands,
This hope till all is done:
Our God the three-in-one.