Coming off of forty days of lent, I’m on a bit of a high. Daily, focused, intentional, prayerful time with the Lord can do that for you. The best part is, I’m not the only one. Other participants in this years Lenten reflection series had a similar experience. Just maybe we’ve found a silver lining to this strange time.
But … this feeling of contentment is rare indeed. Especially now. I’m sure you’ve noticed it too. The heartbreaking statistics are not just isolated, but are sadly hitting close to home. Anxiety and depression is high and climbing. Just this week in my sleepy neighborhood, the myriad of emergency vehicles left with the somber news that a neighbor with no underlying health conditions… a husband, dad of grown kids and grandkids, took his own life, shocking everyone. And sadly, this occurrence is not all that uncommon.
Everything has been Shaken
The way I see it, virtually everything in our lives has been shaken. And because what we’re used to relying on to compensate is unavailable or no longer working… we’re off kilter. What’s left? What cannot be shaken and what can sustain us? It’s not Netflix, alcohol or even exercise, that’s for sure.
During uncertain times a favorite encouragement is from the book of Jeremiah. The book was written to both instruct and encourage the exiles. With all the division and a pandemic that still has teeth, we can relate to those exiles. We too can feel discouraged to the point of despair. We’re still constrained in ways we wouldn’t choose; we’re suspicious of the best way forward, and unity among us seems like a pipe dream.
But in verse 11, even though we can’t know the future, the Lord can. And He offers us this familiar promise.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Before that promise, in verses 4-7 Jeremiah provides some foundational guidance. Jeremiah tells them (paraphrase)… this is what the Almighty wants you to do. While in exile, from Jerusalem to Babylon, build houses, settle down, plant gardens, eat what they produce. Get married and have babies.
Jeremiah is reminding the distraught, displaced and shaken people that their allegiance is FIRST to Almighty God. And He wants them to carry on and LIVE.
I love that… Keep on keeping on. Live. Don’t wait for better times. Don’t wait to have a renewed sense of control over the situation. Step out in faith NOW by living— building houses, planting gardens, marrying and having babies. To prevent any rumors, the Hucke’s are not building houses or having babies, but we are doing our darnedest to carry on and live.
Are you trusting God enough to really live… RIGHT NOW? Remember that your priority allegiance is to the Lord God. The One who is unchangeable, trustworthy, faithful, all powerful, all-knowing and all-loving.
The Silver Lining
You’ve heard it said that every cloud has a silver lining. We think of a silver lining as a sign of hope or something good to be found in every bad situation. Just maybe our silver lining to these extraordinary times is simply an understanding of and appreciation for the solid rock upon which our life is built.
Matthew 7:24-27 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
That’s it! Faith.
Faith is what’s left when everything else has been shaken.
How Practical is Faith in God?
We endure challenging times knowing that temporary suffering cannot overcome God’s eternal glory. Temporary conflict can’t overcome eternal peace. Chaos among us cannot overcome eternal community. Darkness cannot overcome the light. In this time of so much uncertainty, an eternal perspective is both necessary and heartening. Maybe it even transcends silver. Look closely at the picture above, I notice some gold. Maybe we should think of it as the Golden Lining.
Almighty God, We praise you for your promises. We confess when we’re shaken we go to what is easiest and rely on counterfeits. Thank you for the trials of life that reveal what can’t be shaken. Help us to put your word into practice strengthening our faith and securing our foundation. Thank you for demanding our priority allegiance. And help us to trust you to carry on and live even while in exile.
For His Glory, Debbie Hucke
Thank you again Debbie for the Lenten reflections. Though I found myself in a very dark place recently, God’s words through you and your means of expression will get me through. Do I know this in my heart, it is incredibly helpful to have your consistent illustrations of God’s love and God’s consistency. Thanks so much
Terri, Gods word is a worthy life raft. Thanks for doing your part to staying close to Him. He is indeed consistent.
Alice Wambold says
Thank you Debbie for your soothing words! Alice
I agree Alice. It has been soothing for me.
anne kole says
Thank you for your Lenten series. So glad your blog has resumed! I have been struggling lately to see the silver lining in everyday life, and you point me to the light of God’s word. My problem is that I want what I want when I want it! I am trying to remember that God’s timing is always best. It is not all about me. The antidote to my pity party is gratitude and praise.That is my silver lining, based on God, the solid rock!
Anne, you’re on the right track. Gratitude is a key for sure! Bless you my faithful commenter.
Betsy Everett says
Dear Debbie! What an inspiration you are. Your words are so encouraging.
Randy and I read the Lenten Reflections faithfully and I saved the verses you provided to “reflect” back on them.
I have not lived in fear and yet the nightly news reminding me of pandemic deaths, anger, violence to humanity- makes me so sad. I cry with Jesus as He looks down on this broken world.
Yet through it all, we could come safely to church, keep in touch with our Christian community, talk with neighbors, family and friends. And we have not forgotten that God is in control. That’s our silver lining!!
Indeed Betsy. I’m sad for so many “Christians” who have forgotten their allegiance, live in fear or anger waiting for normal. Thanks for weighing in. Debbie
Karen Chalmers says
Right on Betsy!
Cat McKenzie says
Your Lenten Daily reflections certainly filled my Mornings with thought and thankful prayer that I didn’t know I was missing. Certainly “the Rock”we Christians built our “houses”upon is indeed what keeps us safe in these troubling times. That Silver Lining always teaches me there is a Lesson I needed to learn, and didn’t know at that time either, until the trial or difficulty or pain, subsided long enough to see this. Stay the Course, all will happen in God’s time frame. Thank you so much Deb, for being the Spark I need.
Thank you Cat. He sure uses all of it. Staying the course.
Marybeth Barkocy says
Thank you for your wise and faith-filled words! The Jeremiah verse is our family verse that got us through Nathan’s TBI storm. It was thumbtacked to the ceiling in his room, unbeknownst to me, and God showed it to me on a particularly low point. We don’t know the future, so living in the now is a silver lining for us.
Indeed Marybeth. Excited for your new chapter.
This is my favorite verse and what keeps me going during this strange and unsettling time.
Yes it is grounding. I agree. It was cool to discover the rest of the book in support of that ultimate promise.
Debra Harbaugh says
Debbie, you are a great writer and I totally enjoyed reading your daily comments!
I look forward to more wisdom from you in the future like next year! Take care my friend and hopefully I will see you in church. All my love, Debra Harbaugh.
Berta Pitzer says
The Lenten series always gave me just what I needed to stay focused on Jesus, who He is to me and how He loves me. And how I love Him.
Today is what I need to keep me grounded and also focused on Him no matter what!!
Berta! My carry on sista! I know you and your family are LIVING.