This is the week.
The week the Savior of the world rode into Jerusalem on a colt. The crowds spread out their clothing and palm leaves, welcoming him, shouting Hosanna!
But, in one short week, these shouts of Praise God in the highest! Hosanna! became Crucify Him!
What a difference a week makes in the hearts and minds of man.
The human heart can be swayed and steered so easily. We stand strongly one day and fall weakly the next.
And as a result of this humanness, falling seems inevitable. Beliefs we once proclaimed loudly and held tightly become whispered and slippery as we find ourselves influenced by the crowds and circumstances.
We live in a broken, sinful world, hurting one another all too easily. Shouting Crucify him! when we should be shouting Hosanna!
It’s not IF we will fail Him and hurt others, but WHEN. It’s not IF we will suffer or experience trials – it’s WHEN. In fact, throughout God’s word we are warned that trials ARE coming…
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2
6 So be truly glad.There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 1 Peter 1:6
22They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. Acts 14:22
I’ve suffered in this life; I bet you have too. I’ve also stood alongside friends and family as they’ve endured hardship and heartbreak. In these times, conversations with God often sound like this…
What now? How do I move forward out of or away from this heartache? Lord, I feel stuck – unable to move from this spot. Yes, I love you. Yes, I know you’re working all things together for good. I know your promises. Still…my heart and life seem paralyzed. I want to move, but I can’t. I am simply too broken to serve you or proclaim your name or lead again.
Does any of that sound familiar? You’re in the midst of or recovering from life-altering suffering. You feel God is in your heart, but He’s just not showing up; He’s not moving you, directing you out of or away from the pain. You’re still mourning your sin, your failure, a loss. Some days smiling; other days weeping.
What in the world do you do?
You weep forward. Away from what is or was and toward God.
I wish I could take credit for this idea of weeping forward. I can’t. I am participating in a Bible study on Ruth, and my thoughts on being “stuck” in or after suffering were forever altered when I read this in Kelly Minter’s study this week:
My friend wept, but she wept forward… It’s possible to cry and walk.
Naomi’s husband and sons had died. She was left with two Moabite daughters-in-law: Ruth and Orpah. When Naomi decided to return to her home in Bethlehem, she didn’t expect these gals to go with her. She thought they’d remain and try to marry a Moabite. Besides, an Israelite arriving in the Promised Land with two Moabite women in tow wasn’t all that appealing since God forbade intermarriage between the two groups.
8 But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may the Lord reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord bless you with the security of another marriage.” Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept.
10 “No,” they said. “We want to go with you to your people.”
11 But Naomi replied, “Why should you go on with me? Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands? 12 No, my daughters, return to your parents’ homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what? 13 Would you wait for them to grow up and refuse to marry someone else? No, of course not, my daughters! Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord himself has raised his fist against me.”
14 And again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi. 15 “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.” Ruth 1: 8-15
Orpah wept and turned back.
Ruth wept and moved forward.
Both experienced great grief – loss of a husband and family. Both were clinging to their mother-in-law as all they had left. Gut-wrenching weeping.
One wept forward into the new, and one gave in, returning to the old.
Ruth promised Naomi: Where you go, I’ll go. Where you stay, I’ll stay (verse 16)
We can see evidence of weeping forward toward Kingdom gain and backward toward Kingdom loss throughout God’s word.
In Acts 20, Paul weeps with the church when it’s time for his departure. He must go; he’ll never see them again. But, God’s called him away for Kingdom work. Paul weeps forward. In the pain and heartache of goodbye, Paul recognizes God’s call and honors it, crying as he walked away from what he knew and loved in route to fulfilling God’s plan.
In Mark 10, we meet a rich man who asks Jesus, What must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus responds, Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Either way – selling and following OR keeping and walking away – caused weeping. The grief could either move him toward Jesus – or away from Him. This man chose not to weep forward.
In your tears, sorrow, grief, and loss, I pray you decide to weep forward – toward Jesus, seeking His face and doing His work. Whether the suffering occurred yesterday or years ago, it’s time to move forward.
Act. Take a step forward toward Him.
Don’t stop. Don’t turn around. Don’t give up. By all means, cry. Mourn. Weep. Hurt.
But, weep forward toward the only One that makes all things new. The only One who gives joy – Christ Jesus our Lord.