Brought Back Empty?!

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The day after New Years I met some friends at the Glen to spend a half day in prayer.  We come together to encourage each other to get started (often the hardest part of doing this!) and to pray together – then head off on our own for four hours alone with God.  It is wonderful!!!

It was a super cold day, but I piled on the layers and hiked up to the top of a mountain where I have a special spot for spending time with the Lord.  Did He ever meet me in a powerful way!

We were using the format Lorne Sanny outlines in his article “How to spend a day in Prayer” so I began my time focusing on three verses related to waiting on God.  Usually this is just a small intro to the time but not this day.  I spent the next two hours camping out in Isaiah 40:31, Psalm 27:14 and Psalm 62:5 and as I did, the Lord convicted me on how I haven’t been trusting Him, about my unbelief.  As I confessed each thing He brought to mind, oh the sweetness as He exposed the lies I’ve been wrestling with and gave me His truth to replace them.  With each revelation I couldn’t help but rejoice and sing!

Then I skipped ahead to where Lorne advises you pick a book of the Bible to read.  Immediately the book of Ruth came to mind so I dove in – but abruptly stopped when I came to Naomi’s words in Ruth 1:20, “Do not call me naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.  I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty.”

Could I ever relate!  My life use to be so full and now because of my hearing loss it can feel so empty.  Yet the Lord laid on my heart, she lost her husband and her sons and all hope – but the story wasn’t over!  In fact, the best was yet to come!

Oh did that ever encourage my heart!

Now some friends are diving into the book of Ruth with me and we’re beginning to study it inductively.  To get started, we read through the book together then art journaled a page to further process what stood out to us.

For me, it was the irony of her words, “the LORD has brought me back empty” spoken as she’s accompanied by an amazing daughter in law!  I sure wouldn’t call that empty!

Yet in her grief, she can’t see even this.  And I felt like the Lord was encouraging my heart, “Your hearing loss hasn’t left you as empty as you think!”

Got to love how He directs our steps (and our reading!) to rekindle hope!

So close…

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When you have a progressive hearing loss periodically you go through times of grieving, where you come face to face with the reality of the things you can no longer do and mourn their loss.  These can be challenging times, not just wrestling with the loss of abilities but also deeper issues – what do you really believe about God, life, your future…  and you don’t get to pick when you deal with all of this!

This year the grief descended right after Christmas.  It’s hard to sit at a table when your son and his fiance are visiting and you can’t hear what they are sharing.  It’s hard to not be able to talk on the phone and even when you Facetime to only catch bits and pieces.  And then there are holiday parties…

On the way home from Jim’s Christmas work party he asked me, “How much could you hear?”  And I responded, “Maybe 10% of what was said the entire evening.  I don’t even know why I go!”  But then he replied, “You know how when people are hurting they say it’s not your words that make a difference, but your presence?  What if it’s your presence that’s making a difference Deb?”  Talk about an encouraging thought!

But still, God has created me to be a relational communicator and both are seriously impacted by my hearing loss.  No getting around that.

For whatever reason, grief came and it wasn’t pretty.  The night before New Years I couldn’t sleep so went into my art room, took out my black paint and painted a sheet of paper black.  But then the Lord brought to mind Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, ” declares the Lord, “Plans to comfort you (some versions say “prosper” – I’ll take both!) and not to harm you.  Plans to give you a hope and a future.”  And I sensed him asking, “Do you believe this Deb?”

So I took some white paint and painted that verse on top of the black.  As I did, a glimmer of hope entered my heart and I was able to go to sleep feeling much more peace than I’d felt all day.

How true it is the Lord is close to the broken hearted, even in our darkest times of struggle.