What's Consuming You?

1:06 PMHeather

We've all been consumed.  In fact, I think the majority of us would have to say we are currently feeling consumed.  Consumed by worry about the future or about our kids.  Consumed by the obligations and demands of each day and the people around us.  (Can I hear an Amen from every mother of preschoolers juggling it all through every single day?)  Consumed by grief, facing life without a loved one.  Consumed by fear as someone you love is consumed by cancer or other diseases ravaging their body.  Consumed by financial concerns.  Consumed by anger at the way you've been wronged.  Consumed by fatigue.  Consumed by jealousy of what you wish you had.  Consumed by comparisons.  Consumed by addictions that have taken you over.  Consumed by tasks lists and busy calendars.  

Totally, completely consumed.  Taken over.  Filled to the brim with emotions and junk and stuff that feels rotten.  Overwhelmed.  Drowning.

What to do?  What to do?  What's the answer to the frenzy that makes you feel like a caged animal?  

For years, one of my favorite verses to pray for others has been Lamentations 3:22:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.

In times of intense grief, I have prayed this verse. When I can't find the words to pray over a tough situation.  Like when a loved one faced the loss of a child.  I prayed fervently that God's love would be so great that she would not be consumed by her grief.  Of course, I knew, she would feel grief.  But, I was praying it wouldn't consume her.  

I have long fallen on the words of Lamentations 3.  It's one of my favorite chapters of the Bible.  This is where I've long dwelled.  Referring to this chapter for hope time and again since about 1988.

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.  I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Yes, I've read this and thought--Amen. I can relate to Jeremiah's pouring out of emotions.  Preach it, Jeremiah.  I remember my affliction and wandering and bitterness!  How can you forget?  When you in the midst of such a season?  Oh, yes.  My soul is downcast.  Shattered.  Broken.  Bruised.  Amen and amen.  
Then, that one little three-letter word that changes it all for the author, as he laments in the pit of despair.


I'm drowning here!  Consumed.  YET.  THIS I call to mind.  And therefore, I have hope. A lifeline.  A ray of sunshine amidst the darkness.

What is this? It's God's great love and compassion and new mercies for every day and faithfulness.
If you're hitting rock bottom, know that you are in good company.  Because Jeremiah was too.  Yet, he chose to turn his thoughts, call to mind, God's great love.  God's compassion.  God's new mercies for each day.  God's faithfulness. I believe this was a discipline of forcing his mind to consider how God had shown up before so that he could have hope that God would show up again.  

It's a sacrifice of praise.  It's a sacrifice of worship.  It's one of the most difficult things to do when you are drowning in sorrows or worry or fear or circumstances.  To force your mind to turn from those things and to remember what God has done before.  What He can do.  How God reached in to the day before.  Some days, you may have to look long and hard to see it.  To discern God's handwriting on the wall.  But, it was there.  When we choose to "YET."  When we decide that I will force myself to call to mind.  What has He done for me lately?  What did He do before?  Not just for me, but for His people.  What's His track records?  Where are His fingerprints of love, mercy, faithfulness, compassion? 

It is, indeed, a spiritual practice that can turn the tide.  Ever so slowly.  Because it turns your focus from your turmoil and storm to the One who made the oceans and wind and skies.  It's turning your eyes from the plane that is crashing to the nearest exit.  He is the escape.  He is the deliverer.  He is the Sustainer.

 Oh, yes.  I have long loved this passage.  Shared it too many times to count.  Prayed it over so many people.  And it came to mind this morning again, as my Bible study directed me through an exercise about worry.  I realized that I have been consumed with worry.  

Consumed?  Hmmm.  Yes, that word led my mind right back to Lamentations 3:22.  It was like muscle memory.  I instinctively began to pray, as I have so many times, that God's love would be so great that I would not be consumed.  

Then, He spoke a fresh revelation.

"My love would be so great?  That you would not be consumed?  Would be?  As in future tense?  As in become so great?  Oh, dear child.  There is the problem.  You see, My love could not become greater than it already is.  Than it always has been.  You are consumed not because My love isn't great enough.  But because you doubt my love.  Because your eyes see concerns and emotions and circumstances and stack them up to My love.  And after all these years, you still cannot grasp that My love is bigger and greater than anything else.  THAT is what that Scripure's promise is all about.  Not asking that My love be greater, great enough.  But seeing only My love.  Resting in My love.  Concentrating and meditating on My love.  Asking Me to help you grasp My love.  That is the goal.  That is the end.  Transform your focus to only ONE THING.  My love.  Then nothing else can consume you."

Oh, Lord.  Remove my distractions.  Help me let the plates that I'm juggling drop and crash to the floor.  Help me to let go of the wheel here of the many things I try to control.  Help me to just sit at your feet.  Help me to understand your love.  Help me to wade out deeper still and swim in that love.  That this would be my sole focus.  Then, I will be safe guarded from being consumed by anything else.  Move my eyes away from the things that consume me.  Help me train my eyes to see only Your heart for me.  There, I will find what I need.  Rest.  All else will have faded away in the light of my focus on Your great love.

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