Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 9/17/09

“When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.”
Habakkuk 3:16-19

There is always darkness at the doorsteps…

There is always darkness at the doorsteps waiting to enter, waiting to get in. It stands at the gates, like a flood pounding, hammering against the walls, pushing hard against it, trying to crack the barriers that hold it in place, to come pouring in, and to drown the all that it washes by, the weak and the strong, the brave and the afraid, the rich and the poor, with no distinction as to who they are.


At its hand there comes chaos as the darkness sweeps by and the world, it doesn’t seem to make sense, it doesn’t seem to have any meaning or purpose. It’s just full of the hurt and the pain, the agony and the sorrow, the suffering and the despair that can be heaped upon it, as the pressure builds and it seems to crush us all under its weight, a little bit of our humanity dying with each and every step, with each and every challenge and struggle. Evil seems to dominate over the world as we see it and as we know it and we are left to wonder if there is a time, or even a moment, where it will all seem to make sense again.

But then how can we look to the harm that can be inflicted by wickedness, by iniquity and hatred, by spitefulness and malevolence on the rise, on the march in the world and not feel as if a little piece of us is dying inside as the innocence is ripped away from so many? How can we look to the chaos and the darkness that can be imposed as evil means wreak their tyranny and injustice, their vicious loathing of human life on the world and not find that an abiding sense of grief overtakes us as we look to so many who are held captive in so many ways?

There are many ways that unrighteousness and wickedness seems to take men and women prisoner in this world as slavery of the body and the mind, the spirit and the soul, seems to bind our hands and crush us under its dark weight, leaving nothing more than the broken, shattered frame of the person its victim once was. Ernest Hemmingway, the great American Novelist, once wrote in his novel A Farewell to Arms “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure that it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.”

How true is that?

We speak a lot of the captivity and the breaking of political prisoners cast to dungeons or who are murdered, of young girls who are grabbed from the street, drugged, and sold for their flesh as they are made into sex slaves, devoured for the pleasure violent and perverse men. We talk a lot of ransoming of men and women who are kidnapped and held by terrorists and pirates, sold back as if they were property or murdered as if their lives weren’t anything more than a game that ended, of slaves who are made of freemen used as if nothing more than an object or a machine to toil for the wealth and the glory of others, killed when they are of no more use, their lives held worthless and then destroyed.

Though they are the disturbing and vile ways men and women are held in dark bondage, they are not the only way. Each day illness takes countless families hostage and prisoner as they find sorrow overtaking them. Spousal abuse happens all around us in places we would have never thought, as violence seems to dominate the lives of those who are held in its grip. Alcoholism and drug addiction takes so many as they seek a way out of their lives and find that it instead comes to dominate their life, holding them enslaved to their next drink or their next fix. Poverty as families sleep in cars, shelter lines seem to go on and on forever, and veterans who gave so much for our freedom are left to the streets, their hopes and dreams squashed under the weight of such harsh conditions.

Yet there is hope…

Even amidst the greatest of darkness’ that seek to overtake us, even amidst the greatest of chaos that overwhelm us, there is hope, and it’s found in the words of the Prophet.

There is a loving God, a compassionate God, a God of deliverance and of mercy who contends with the cause of His children, and regardless of the struggle, regardless of the ordeal, He is at work in this world, seeking to set them free from the captivity that now takes such hold over them.

Yes unrighteousness and iniquity, evil and sin is always around us, as the Adversary tries to assert his dominance on this world. We see it all around us as Satan never relents, using ever weapon in his arsenal to prey upon the weakness of men and women, trying to break people, to destroy them, so that his dark hold over them will be made complete. Yet, against the power of the Lord God Almighty, and the strength of His hand, all the forces of the dark prince are fleeting, soon to pass as the peace and the love of the Lord sets it to flight. Our proof? The life, the death and the resurrection of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who, for our sake, was made man.

A world held in dark bondage to the powers of sin, death and the Devil, Christ set it free. Through his encompassing sacrifice he conquered the grave, giving it no more power over us, and their he set captivity captive and ransomed us enslaved hostages to it. Freedom came through his love and his sacrifice, through God’s mercy and compassion and it guided us through the darkness to a path of redemption that we would once more be able to find ourselves amidst our heavenly home.

Yet the Devil, knowing his days were numbered, and his power gone, is always trying to reassert it in this world.

Still, if this is the power of the Lord, if this is the grace of our Heavenly Father and the firm reliance by which we place our hope on, knowing that he is the strength of our salvation, then how much more can He do now against the forces of iniquity in this world? How much more can he do for the cause and the struggle of His children whom he has promised never to fail or forsake?

Regardless of the struggle, regardless of the ordeal, regardless of the captivity, regardless of all that is waged by the dark power of the forces of iniquity and hatred, chaos and sin as evil seeks to triumph over us, put your faith and your reliance on the Lord, lifting the cause of His people to Him in humble submission to His word and know that the Your Heavenly Father will hear the cries, will hear the calls, and shall see the plight, working through all things to set all people free that they will once more, in justice, be able to abide in liberty.

This is the hope and faith of the broken and the wounded, healed by the miraculous touch of the Lord God Almighty.

Lord, grant this unto us all.

In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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