“For my days have been consumed in smoke, and my bones have been scorched like a hearth. My heart has been smitten like grass and has withered away, indeed, I forget to eat my bread” (Psalm 102:3-4).
Psalm 102I had heard stories about heart attacks–how your chest tightens, how a sharp pain would seize the left side of your chest, how the underside of your arms would grow numb and tingle. But until it happens to you, you can’t fully understand the overarching mental and emotional drama that overtakes you. Death stares you in the face, and your life flashes before your eyes.
My reaction to my first heart attack wasn’t what you’d call stereotypical. Stemming from my training in “mental toughness” through years of junior high, high school, and college football, I tried to push my three “mild,” successive heart attacks aside and ignore the reality of what I knew to be true. Fortunately, they weren’t enough to throw me to the ground or take my life.
The open heart surgery was an experience of anguish and pain like this boy had never known before. Having a vein stripped out of the full length of my leg, my chest cracked open, and tubes inserted in my abdomen all worked together to bring a new level of intensity to days and nights of pain and sleeplessness. Surprisingly, my lung cavities filled with blood and suffocated my ability to breathe. Another emergency surgery, through the ribs of my back, added two more weeks to the desperation. Five tubes and 28 sleepless days and nights later, I wept tears of joy as the final tubes were removed and I was released from the hospital to begin a long road of recovery.
I’ve never been so thankful to leave a place in my life! I’ll never cease thanking God for the ability to enjoy life as I do today. Though filled with painful procedures and physical agony, the hospital stay was an experience of closeness to God and silent worship like I’ve never known. My hospital room was a sanctuary. God kept me awake so I could experience His love fully. He extended my stay so I could more deeply experience His peace. The grass in His pasture is greenest when the sky opens and heavy rain falls to the earth.
- Psalm 102:1-2 – “Hear my prayer, O Lord! And let my cry for help come to You. Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my distress; incline Your ear to me; in the day when I call answer me quickly.”
- Describe the day in your life when the clouds were the deepest gray, the pain was the most intense, and the lightning crashed to the earth. If you could have written out your prayers that day, what would they have said?
- John 15:1-2 – “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”
- What is God’s principle for “pruning” a Christ-follower?
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, The Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”
- The Greek word for comfort is paraklete, which means “encouragement, consolation, to call or beseech.” In Barclay’s commentary, he compares the term comfort to a general who “speaks a word of bravery” to a defeated army, giving a word of motivation to take his soldiers back into battle. How have you seen God use your afflictions to enable you to “speak a word of bravery” to someone who is going through the same brokenness you’ve experienced?
- Why is it necessary to be broken in order to fully lift up another in his or her brokenness?
- Psalm 147:3 – “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
- It has been said that God gives us 20/20 vision looking backward to see His hand in everything. How have you experienced God’s healing in your brokenness?
- Psalm 51:16-17 – “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
- Why does a humble, broken spirit bring God’s blessing to a believer?
John 13:15 – “For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”
From today’s scripture, how does THE Shepherd inspire you to shepherd your flock?
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication