Sunday Devotional: Lamentations 3:31-33

“For the Lord
will not reject us forever.
Even if He causes suffering,
He will show compassion
according to His abundant, faithful love.
For He does not enjoy bringing affliction
or suffering on mankind.” (Lamentations 3:31-33)

The book of Lamentations was written by the prophet Jeremiah.  If there was someone who understood lamenting, it was Jeremiah.  He was a prophet who was charged with speaking God’s truth to the people.  But the people would not listen. And because they would not listen and repent, judgement came and the people suffered including Jeremiah.

Even throughout the book of Lamentations where there is lamenting and grief throughout, there is also hope.  These verses are a part of that hope.  Jeremiah reminds the people that God does have abundant, faithful love for his people.  He does want to bring His people back from suffering and pain.  He “will not reject us forever”.

Sometimes when we are going through painful times and we are in that valley of suffering, we feel that it never ends.  Months or even years may pass and the suffering we feel never ends.  But these verses remind us that even though it seems never ending, it is not.  God will bring it to end.  He loves us and though we may deal with suffering, we have hope because of Jesus Christ.  We are not rejected forever because we have been accepted through Christ’s work on the cross.  We may still endure pain and suffering on this Earth but it will not last forever.

This week, as we may going through our own pains and sufferings, let us rest in the hope that it will not last forever.  That the steadfast love of God endures and He will deliver us.

 

Carrying Pain: Some Thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

I just saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and it did not disappoint.  There were a lot of great moments in the film and it reminded me why I loved the first one.  It has joy and heart and humor and when it’s serious it connects.  And at the heart of it is hope.

There are a lot of things that could be talked about in this film but there was one point that really resonated with me once I left the theater.  (Minor spoilers but nothing major)

One of the underlying plot points in the film carries over from the first film.  This is the rivalry/fight between Gamora & Nebula.  In the first Guardians, Gamora had the chance to kill Nebula and didn’t.  In this film, Nebula returns at the beginning.  She is first captured by the Guardians and then later escapes.  Later she finds Gamora with the expressed intent of “besting her”.  She comes in guns ablazing (literally) in a spaceship and crashes with Gamora having to save her again.

Later on, Nebula expresses all the rage and anger she had to Gamora was because Thanos would “repair” Nebula with cybernetics when she lost to Gamora and that’s why she hated Gamora.  Nebula raged because deep down she didn’t want to win.  She wanted a sister.  And so that pain built up inside Nebula and made her what she became in the 1st Guardians film and bled into this one.  And Gamora realizes that and tells Nebula that she was just trying to survive.  She didn’t mean to hurt Nebula.  And there’s a great scene where Gamora hugs Nebula and at first Nebula is stiff but finally she returns the hug.

Nebula still carries the pain of her past.  And at the end of the film, she doesn’t let it go just yet as she jets off to go after Thanos.  And Gamora lets her know that she’s welcome with them because she is family.

We all carry pain of some kind.  We are all hurt by people.  Sometimes the pain is unintentional and sometimes unfortunately it’s very intentional.  However we are hurt, we each carry that hurt with us.  Sometimes that pain can be used for good.  We see how we are hurt and we care for others so that they do not feel that kind of pain.  Peter Quill throughout the films carries the pain of seeing his mom die and fights for others.  Nebula rages with anger at the pain she carries and while she is not the same as she was at the beginning of the first film, she still is consumed by the pain and the anger that comes from it.

Like I said earlier, what I love about this series is that at the heart of the films is hope.  Hope for change.  Even if one carries such deep pain, there is hope for change.  I am very much looking forward to Vol. 3 and seeing how the character of Nebula is carrying her pain.  Because it reminds me of the pain that I carry and how I can’t let it carry me.

Barry Allen and Moving Forward

I have mentioned before on here how much I’m a fan of the comic book character “The Flash”.  I feel like in a lot of ways I can relate to Barry Allen.  So of course I was excited to see the return of the series.  And along with the return gives a lot of entertainment as well as a lot to think about and ponder.

At the end of last season, Barry went back in time to try and fix a problem.  That problem was one that had defined him.  That problem was the death of Barry’s mother by Reverse Flash.  Barry goes back and stops Reverse Flash and prevents the death of his mother.  The season premiere of this season showed the effects of this “Flashpoint” which changed the timeline of what happened not only for Barry but for everyone else.  When things began to spiral out of control, Barry goes back and allows Reverse Flash to kill his mother.

Last night’s episode showed the effects of what happened when Barry “fixed” the timeline.  Relationships were damaged between family and friends.  New enemies began to appear in Central City.  So Barry decides to go back again and try and fix it.  However before he got too far, he was stopped by Jay Garrick (Earth 2 Flash), who knocked him out of the Speed Force and into 1998 (which wasn’t a bad year to be honest).

barry-and-jay

Jay and Barry then sit in a diner and have a conversation.  During that conversation, Jay tries to share with Barry about how trying to “fix” the timeline doesn’t work.  He uses the example of a coffee cup and how it can be broken.  Once it’s broken, even if you try and put it back together again, it still has the cracks and isn’t the cup it once was.  The same for the timeline.  The more one goes back to try and “fix” things, the more it breaks.  Jay then tells Barry that he has to accept what has happened and move forward.

I know for myself that there are those certain moments in my life that I wish I could go back and change or “fix”.  Painful times that I wish didn’t happen or good things that I wish had lasted.  But I cannot go back in time and change things.  All I can do is move forward.  That’s all that all of us can do.  We have to persevere and move forward.  We have to trust God that what hurt and pains that we’ve experienced are not the be all end all of our lives.  That we are not defined by those moments only.  But that we are defined by Him.

It is not easy to move forward sometimes, even for a speedster like Barry Allen.  But it is possible.  It is a daily struggle but it is possible.

Sunday Devotional: Isaiah 53:1-5

“Who has believed what he has heard from us?
    And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
    a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.”  (Isaiah 53:1-5)

This has been a really tough week in so many ways.  A lot of pain and hurt has been felt in some way shape or form.  And sometimes it feels we are alone in our pain and suffering.  It is times like these that I’m reminded of these verses from the book of Isaiah.

Here in these verses Isaiah was foretelling the coming of Jesus and what Jesus would go through on our behalf.  Isaiah said that Jesus would be “a man of sorrows”.  He would know what it’s like to be rejected.  He would know what grief and pain is like.  He would take it on so that we could be reconciled with God.  He would do it so that we could be healed.

There is a lot of suffering in this world.  There is a lot of sorrow and grief.  There is a lot of pain and rejection.  We all experience it.  But we can be assured that Jesus understands.  He knows what we’re going through because He experienced it first hand.  He did so willingly because He loves us.

This week, let us remember and share the hope of Jesus.  In the midst of our own sorrows and griefs, let us remember that we are not alone in it.  We have one with us who understands and who loves us.  We have one with us who can give us hope when it feels like we have no hope left.

Sunday Devotional: Lamentations 3:24-25

““The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
    to the soul who seeks him.”  (Lamentations 3:24-25)

Patience is something that I have needed a lot of work on.  I have gotten better at patience but I still need a ways to go before I can say I’m a patient person.  This week was a real struggle for me.  I felt hurt and depression down to my soul.  God led me to these verses as a reminder.

The prophet Jeremiah knew all about hurt and suffering.  He endured a lot as a prophet serving the Lord.  Yet even in his laments, he still had this hope.  “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will hope in him.”  God is enough, even in those painful times when hope seems lost.  We are able to find our hope in Him.

Waiting is so hard.  But when we are waiting for Him, He is there.  He helps us to endure.  He helps us to persevere and overcome.  We are able to do this because of His working inside of us.

This week, let us find our hope in Him.  Let us cling to the truth that God is there for us when we wait for Him.  And even though the waiting is excruciatingly tough, He loves us so and is there to comfort us.  Let us rejoice in Him.  Because when we seek Him with all our heart, we will find Him.