Friday, September 28, 2012

Smoldering Wick (part 2) - Select Passages

As I continue to think through preparations for preaching through 2 Corinthians 4:7-5:5, I was thinking through biblical history and trying to remember all the saints who have, at one time, lost heart. Here is a sampling: [EDITED 10/11/12 - Check back occasionally as I continue to add to this list as the Lord brings them up in my readings]

“I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.” (Numbers 11:14-15 ESV)

“Let the day perish on which I was born,
and the night that said,
‘A man is conceived.’
Let that day be darkness!
May God above not seek it,
nor light shine upon it.
(Job 3:3-4 ESV)

“For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
      through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.”
Selah (Psalm 32:3-4 ESV)

    Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
    But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
(1 Kings 19:3-4 ESV)

“Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:3 ESV)

Heman & the sons of Korah
    “For my soul is full of troubles,
        and my life draws near to Sheol.
    I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
       I am a man who has no strength,
    like one set loose among the dead,
        like the slain that lie in the grave,
    like those whom you remember no more,
        for they are cut off from your hand.
    You have put me in the depths of the pit,
        in the regions dark and deep.
    Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
        and you overwhelm me with all your waves.” Selah
(Psalm 88:3-7 ESV)

Author of Ps 119
My soul clings to the dust;
give me life according to your word!

My soul melts away for sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word! (Psalm 119:25, 28 ESV)

Cursed be the day
on which I was born!
The day when my mother bore me,
let it not be blessed!
Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father,
“A son is born to you,”
making him very glad.
Let that man be like the cities
that the LORD overthrew without pity;
let him hear a cry in the morning
and an alarm at noon,
because he did not kill me in the womb;
so my mother would have been my grave,
and her womb forever great.
Why did I come out from the womb
to see toil and sorrow,
and spend my days in shame?
 (Jeremiah 20:14-18 ESV)

    And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (Matthew 26:37-38 ESV)
    And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 ESV)

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.” (2 Corinthians 1:8 ESV)

What these texts tell me is that a “loss of heart,” even to the point of praying for death, is potentially part of the disciple’s experience as we walk with God. Spanning both Old and New Testaments, God faithfully and tenderly cares for his broken reeds and smoldering wicks.


Scott said...

how could I leave out Job???

“Let the day perish on which I was born,and the night that said,
‘A man is conceived.’
Let that day be darkness!
May God above not seek it,
nor light shine upon it.
(Job 3:3-4 ESV)

ben said...

Thanks for this follow-up as well, Scott. It's encouraging to be reminded that even key figures in the bible struggled to such an extent at times. So many throughout church history as well. By the way, I had some trouble when I left my comment on the previous post, but I think that's because I've been having some browser loading issues - Ben

Scott said...

Yeah, I was kind of surprised how many I found! I thought it would just be 2-3 references, but it kept growing! I forgot to add Job & Jeremiah too. I wish our Christian tradition had room for expressions like this; at least mine doesn't.

Andy said...

I really like this, Scott. I wonder how our approach to life might change if we saw loss of heart as not only something to be endured in a fallen world, but, as you say, a necessary part of our journey with Christ. Sometimes I wonder why Scripture doesn't say this more clearly but leaves it up to us to discern, as you have done here. But then I wonder if that is maybe part of the divine wisdom in using loss of heart to stretch and mold his children. Part of the journey is learning to read between the lines in Scripture, instead of just wanting the answers handed to us in a neat package. I don't know, just thinking out loud.

Scott said...

Excellent point, Andy. I do think the vague things in life and in Scripture are put there as invitations by our Father for us to seek out. This may be another one of those. The seeking is what matters more than the finding.

It also may be that we don't see things like this because we avoid suffering and don't look for encouragement until we're in crisis ourselves.

ben said...

I hear you, I've struggled with that as well. I think that was a big part of the motivation behind my book back when, and a big reason it tanked in the market - Ben

Scott said...

updated OP with references to Job & Jeremiah

Anonymous said...

Scott, thanks for this. Court and I have been pushing through a lot of discouragement lately, a lot of darkness. Just being reminded (a) that the Bible is FULL of this stuff and (b) there's hope in God through Jesus (despite the fact that it still feels out of reach for my thick skull) is extremely encouraging. If nothing else, it just feels good to know I'm not alone...

Unknown said...

Sorry, this is Bill Bell. I'm trying to figure out how to log in as me on Blogger...

Scott said...

Glad you found it helpful, Bill. I find myself returning to these for comfort! I wish our Christian communities trafficked in these spiritual streams more often . . .

Bill Bell said...

Ya know, reading around on your blog, I find myself annoyed that I didn't know you better when we were still at Sojourn. It would've greatly benefited my soul, I'm certain. I'm glad you blog so I can stalk you from afar. :-)

Scott said...

stalk all you want, friend! Glad you are here.