How a Person Can Praise God When Things Fall Apart…

July 8, 2012 | 46 comments

 

We wake to gray clouds piled on the morning horizon. Before I put a single toe on the carpet, I pray for a holy wringing of that gray sky. We need rain.

But only a few sprinkles fall; the cracked farmfields groan. Under the covers, I groan, too. My stomach knots.

And the clouds evaporate.

I shower, dry my hair, wake the girls.

It’s Sunday. Soon, our country-church sanctuary will beat with the hearts of  farmers, with their tanned arms and white foreheads from years of wearing seed-corn caps. We will pray in unison for God’s mercy, all faced toward that wooden cross above the altar.

And Pastor Rich will surely pray for rain to soak the fields that border our tiny church.

But I get a head-start on prayer here at home, singing Healing Rain softly. It feels like a sort of prayer, to lift up whispered words swollen with hope toward heavenly storehouses.

But no rain comes. 

It can feel hopeless. It really can. When the prayers go unanswered. How many weeks did the people of Colorado pray for rain? How much more fervently did they pray as flames cartwheeled into their neighborhoods?

And the people of Indiana, whose crops are even worse than ours? Surely they prayed hard? Or our friends in Illinois whose corn doesn’t stand a chance? They emailed us two days ago with their bad news.

But there’s more: The mother at the side of her own child’s hospice bed. The husband, who is handed the divorce papers. The lonely. The sick. The betrayed.

But people really do praise anyway. In full defiance of the human condition, a hurting mortal can praise.

It’s the believer’s response: hope. That in a world reeking with pain and ash and death cracking the Earth straight through the middle, that there is this sacred knowledge of redemption coming.

That there is still a God,
and that He is still good,
And He is worthy of praise.

The broken, dry voices — shaking with grief — can worship anyway. It’s true. It can happen: When it’s all falling apart, everything cracking right up the middle, real people do lift their hands and open their mouths. For they thirst for our only Hope.  

I roll the mascara brush across my eyelashes and run a blush-brush across my cheekbones. Words eek out, past the lump in my throat.

Lord, we praise you.

I don’t do this to trick Him into giving me what I want on this farm and in this life filled with its own daily hurts … but I do this because I honestly know of no other thing for a parched soul to do other than this: open wide the window with praise, and let the voice sing louder than the screech of pain.

I walk into the kitchen, pour juice into cups.

My husband, the farmer on this farm, creaks open the back door. He’s home from chores.

I ask him if the forecast shows any rain at all.

“No, not at all,” but he adds: “God’s got it.” This is my man’s three-word theology for farming … and for life in general. Why worry, he says, when worry won’t make anything grow? Worry won’t bring rain, or relief, or any real hope at all. Only God can do any of it.

We finish breakfast. I tame the girls’ hair with water, tie bows on the back of sundresses, and search for the one lost shoe before we back out of the garage.

And I just keep singing my prayers: the insistent response of a parched soul who will choose worship over worry.

 

 

I do know what happens to the corn leaves when they begin to suffer from drought. They roll. They curl right in on themselves like they’re hoarding with little they have. It looks like a self-protective measure.

I look out the window on the way to church, at these thirsty, curling fields. People are like that, I think to myself. When we hurt, what are we inclined to do? We curl right in on ourselves. We stay under the covers, behind the drawn shades. We replay old hurts, new worry and insistent fear.

Our human default is to hide, to roll into the self. It’s one of the enemy’s oldest tricks–to keep a believer to herself.

I think of the verse right then, as we’re driving along the asphalt to the church. It’s that verse in Psalm 63 that says, “… in a dry and weary land.”

What does it say next? I can’t remember for sure but …

We walk through the front door of the church, and I grab a pew Bible, flipping to Psalm 63:1. David is lamenting right there, laying out his pain before the Lord with those words: “In a dry and weary land…”

But what then? Does he curl into his own drought? I run my finger along the words, moving to the next verse.

“I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.”

No, he doesn’t curl in at all! He remembers!  

The children of God remember.We remember how we’ve seen God’s power and glory. We remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness. We remember that whatever befalls us, our God is much greater.

I keep running my finger down the verses, and this comes next:

“Your love is better than life. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.”

Corn leaves curl. But as gospel people, we unfurl — like flags of praise. 

Rather than fold in on ourselves, we really can open our mouths expectantly, lifting up the shaking voice to the heavens. We can unclench our hands, and raise them higher, and whisper songs like prayers, straight through our own brokenness.

I take a seat, third row on the left, next to two girls in sundresses, and a farmer with tanned arms and a hope-filled heart.

The pastor asks us to stand for our first song. And as we face the cross, expectantly with open hands, the worship leader cues up our first song:

Healing Rain.  

 

 

Writing in community with Michelle DeRusha today…

by | July 8, 2012 | 46 comments

46 Comments

    • dukeslee

      Bless you, Holly Michael. So glad you’ve come by tonight.

      Reply
  1. Shaunie Friday

    Praying for those thirsty corn fields, Jennifer! Praise during a drought takes the same kind of “crazy” hope you’d need to walk around with an open umbrella in a drought! Not crazy at all, but it sure looks like faith!! I love your farmer’s theology!
    {{{Hugs}}} and cool, drippy thoughts and prayers headed your way!!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I love how you say that … walking around with an open umbrella in a drought. That image is going to stick today.

      Reply
  2. S. Etole

    This reminds me so much of Habakkuk 3:17-19. What timely thoughts you’ve shared for some many across the country. I hope that healing rain comes your way soon.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh my, yes. Susan… Thank you for sharing those verses. What a blessed soul you are:

      Though the fig tree does not bud
      and there are no grapes on the vines,
      though the olive crop fails
      and the fields produce no food,
      though there are no sheep in the pen
      and no cattle in the stalls,
      yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
      I will be joyful in God my Savior.

      Reply
  3. Elizabeth Stewart

    Praying with you for rain.
    Beautiful post. I could so relate to your words about curling up and withdrawing in adversity, but oh, the victory in my own soul when I’ve done just as you said, worshipped my way out of the pit.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hi Elizabeth … Me, too, friend. I want to curl into the inside. And I’ve done it. Often. When I do curl, I can only focus on myself, and can’t focus on the Savior. Sometimes, I need a good friend to pry me out of myself, if that makes sense.

      Thankful for you being here.

      Reply
  4. Wendy @ E1A

    The Lord most definitely knows this situation Jennifer. It stirred my soul when I read what you wrote re: Psalm 63: “… in a dry and weary land.”

    Send your healing rain Father and minister not only to the earth but to those who come from the dust of the earth because many hearts are parched and in need of Your healing rain and touch in their lives also.
    Amen

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Yes … and Amen. Thank you Wendy.

      Reply
  5. Lyla Lindquist

    How long ago was it we were checking in with each other about when the rain would stop, or the snow would melt? This farmer faith, the daily waiting and trusting that God’s really got it… Still the thing I look to and know it can be done.

    Praying with you and Scott, and others, while you wait.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Yes. Daily. … And not only on the farm, but life in general. We don’t know what’s around any corner, but we can trust the One who does. Always love having you here, Lyla.

      Reply
  6. Nancy Franson

    Love this: “I don’t do this to trick Him into giving me what I want on this farm and in this life filled with its own daily hurts … ”

    Joining you and others in prayer for rain. Entrusting you, your farmer husband, and so many others into the hands of the One who does all things well.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Nancy,

      We so appreciate those prayers.

      Much love to you …

      Reply
  7. ro.ellott

    “ Corn leaves curl. But as gospel people, we unfurl — like flags of praise.” Love this…my 16yr. is into little house right now…being the youngest in a much older family she missed this treasure somehow. So we are working our way through the series…she often comments…wow we are wimps…or I can’t imagine having to live with such trust…and as I watch I am amazed at farmers faith…just like your husband…God’s got this…I think maybe more than anyone…farmers know they are not in control…they are not god. Maybe this comes from spending hours in His creation…hands busy…mind free to communicate to God. In some ways…the way of the farmer can be envied…not envied for the back breaking work…or long, long hours…the 24/7 work schedule…but envied for what really matters…faith…an abiding faith…that God really does have it all. Lifting voices of praise with you…and also prayers for rain.

    Reply
  8. Kory Graham

    Every one before me has said everything I would say and said it even better than I would say:) Truly amazing words. As always thanks for sharing. Prayers out to all those farmers out there waiting for rain.

    Reply
  9. Jillie

    From waaay up here in Ontario, Canada…praying for rain for you waaay down there in the States. We’ve been watching your weather patterns here, and going through our own extremely hot, muggy weather…our hearts go out to you. “God’s got it!” It’s just a matter of “How long, O Lord?”

    Reply
  10. Michele-Lyn

    I love this… “Why worry, he says, when worry won’t make anything grow?”

    What a wonderful, encouraging, faith-building post. It is so full of nuggets of wisdom.

    Praying for rain — right now!

    Reply
  11. Lori Poppinga

    Amen and Amen! Let it be!
    Keep up the God work.

    Reply
  12. Shelly Miller

    I’m praying believing with you and this reflection is just gorgeous Jennifer. Love the analogy of the corn leaves curling like our curling up under the heaviness of life. May we wave like a banner today for Him.

    Reply
  13. Lisa

    And I was just reading A Thousand Blessings last night before bed and couldn’t get this out of my head… To stress or worry is a form of atheism. And then I wake up and read your awesome blog today. Thank you! I think God is trying to tell me something…he’s got it.

    Reply
  14. Brenda Holtrop

    Thanks for your beautiful words. Bob and I just had that conversation this morning – are we going to trust God as far as we can provide for ourselves or are we going to TRUST our loving Papa regardless of what we see?

    Reply
  15. Duane Scott

    Jennifer,

    We are in this same dry and weary land over here and your reflection on the drought just warms my heart today as I stare at the corn out my window.

    I will remember how we do this too, this curling into ourselves when we’re hurt.

    Blessings,

    DS

    Reply
  16. Theresa@HeavenlyGlimpses

    “Corn leaves curl. But as gospel people, we unfurl — like flags of praise.” This is beautiful!

    Reply
  17. Glynn

    You and Scott have been on my mind — I see the reports out of Iowa all the time. And it’s about as bad in Missouri in Illinois. St. Louis received a half inch of rain on Sunday, and we were out dancing in it. Good post, Jennifer.

    Reply
  18. Jenn

    This is so beautiful. When tempted to curl to remember.

    Reply
  19. Gramma T

    Hesling Rains pour down on our hearts and our fields indeed. And then: Be Still and Know that He is God. Scott our favorite farmer, is right “Gods Got It!” so happy He does too, cause we all mess up.

    Reply
  20. Genevieve @ Turquoise Gates

    I read a book, “Monuments of Faith”, that wasn’t particularly well written or catchy in phrase, but it was written all around this one thing – that we remember instead of curling in. That all through our lives God gives us these great moments of faith and if we return to those monuments when we are in a season of drought, our faith will grow bigger and stronger against all odds, and we will be people who overcome, because we will really understand God like never before. That’s what REMEMBERING is – returning to those monument moments when He did come through for us, and knowing, deep in our bones, that He can and He will, when the time is right.

    Reply
  21. Linda

    This is precious truth Jennifer. During one of the darkest seasons of my life I cried out to God not even really knowing how to pray the right words for the deep need. The answer came back, “Praise.” It is like a miracle what praise can do in a heart that is crying out for help. It is reminded of who God is and what He has done and promised to do.
    I am praying for rain for you Jennifer.

    Reply
  22. SimplyDarlene

    sounds like you got yourself a smart farmer dude…

    God’s got it.

    Blessings.

    Reply
  23. Megan Willome

    “but I do this because I honestly know of no other thing for a parched soul to do other than this”–love that!

    Reply
  24. Lore Ferguson

    I am here today. This is me and I am here. Dry and parched. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for your words.

    Reply
  25. Sebastian

    Healing Rain…Wow! What a wonderful post…thank you for sharing it! May God bless you and yours with an abundance of rain! –Sebastian

    Reply
  26. Diana Trautwein

    So lovely – and so powerfully true. Joining others in praying for you all, for rain to come and crops to survive. But maybe even more importantly, for flags of praise to unfurl, no.matter.what. The ‘hard hallelujah’ as Ann says. Holding hands high for you all.

    Reply
  27. Diane Bailey

    Its about 2:30 in the morning, I am listening to Healing Rain by Michael W Smith and reading your blog. You have ministered so much to this weary dry soul this morning.

    Bless you Jennifer, I’m praying for your corn fields; And speaking blessings over you.

    Reply
  28. Abby

    Jennifer, this was beautifully said. I’m sorry you, your family, community, and so many others are going through this hard time right now. Joining you in your prayer for rain, and the faith and strength you need to get through this. ~ Abby

    Reply
  29. michelle derusha

    Been praying rain for your curling corn every day as I look up at this cloudless Nebraska sky.

    Reply
  30. floyd

    An amazing post of hope and wisdom. Thanks for the reminder of how to live in our own times of drought.

    ‘God’s got it.” I love a simple man with amazing wisdom; a gift from God.

    I’m praying for you and yours and the rain.

    Reply
  31. Deb Weaver

    You’ve stated such life-essential truths in such a beautiful way. Thank you.

    Deb Weaver
    thewordweaver.com

    Reply
  32. Amanda Jones

    Thanks Jennifer for this post. I really needed to hear it today. I was feeling hopeless and angry but you reminded me that God is greater than all of this and I do have hope because He loves me and my precious boys and He will take care of it all.

    Reply
  33. Christina

    I’m listening to M. W. Smith’s Healing Rain on Pandora as I read this. This post is applicable to all our lives. I too often curl in. I love the image of us as gospel believers unfurling. Wish I could send you some of our afternoon thunder storms! Blessings!

    Reply
  34. Kelly

    Yes, yes, yes. I needed this today! Praising God always!

    Reply
  35. Elizabeth

    Jennifer, I grieve your dryspell. I pray for the rain to wash down on your farm. This post, these words are so beautiful. What a gift your words here are. Just wonderful writing from your heart.

    Reply
  36. Dolly@Soulstops

    Thank you for sharing so beautifully how God hears your prayers for healing rain, and for how your husband trusts, and you hope and praise Him even when it is hard…praying for rain…blessings, dear Jennifer 🙂

    Reply
  37. Sandra Heska King

    I’ve been having these same curling thoughts, Jennifer. Praying for healing rain with you. And so grateful for your husband’s words and wisdom.

    Reply

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