There are a few of my very closest friends out there who are suffering this morning, staggering under the weight of burdens that seem unfairly disproportionate to their abilities to cope. My heart is breaking with and for them. I don’t know what to do. I can call, do lunch, and sit on the ash heap when I’m allowed to. I can love, and intercede, and cry my tears of frustration out to my Father. But the unfathomable and unbearable heartache remains. The bent backs and slumped shoulders, the swollen eyes and gut-punch sorrow isn’t going away.
As I was praying this morning, this verse jumped in my head. It had been a while since I’d read it, so I looked it up. This has long been one of Oak Hills’ go-to verses.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
Behold, at that time I will deal
with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
Zephaniah 3:17-19 (ESV)
It gave me hope today, a hope that I will hold onto for my friends who can’t feel it now. It’s okay that they can’t. That’s part of what taking little pieces of the daily manna God is giving me and throwing it into the hole in my brother’s heart means. I can believe it for you right now.
He is with you. In the middle of the darkness, He is with you. He is able and willing to save you. But He will not do so out of a sense of duty or obligation. He will do so with rejoicing and with love. He will be ecstatic, express jubilation, be rapturously thrilled about the opportunity to rescue His beloved. He will sing over you, and He will do so loudly. I thought immediately of the Father in the story of the Prodigal, who ran down the road in such an undignified manner, driven beyond thoughts of propriety by His love for His cherished son.
He will gather those who mourn for a party. He will take away your shame and reproach. He will deal with the unfairness of life, the brokenness. He will bring the lame, the hurting, the outcast, and the chronic failure into an embrace that will never end, and He will turn your shame into praise and renown. He will do this.
There’s one line in there that’s always so comforting. “He will quiet you by His love.” I always get this sense of God listening to my protests about how bad I am and how much I don’t deserve to be His son, and how He should really just let me sleep in the bunk house with the servants, and then interrupting me and saying “Shhh.” Then I feel the ring slipped on my finger, and his robe around my shoulders. It speaks of acceptance and love that I can’t understand.
But this morning, I saw something that took that line to a whole new level for me. The quiet comfort of my understanding of it is there, but the real language used takes it much farther. Here’s how the Amplified Bible renders it: He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them].
I started to cry. This is more than just emotional and hyper-spiritualized nonsense. This is more than just “It’s okay. Everything’s going to be all right.” It’s more than a band-aid for a grieving heart.
This is the gospel in the Old Testament, saying that God will rest in silent, insistent, burning love for you, satisfied, accepting you, and will not even remember your sin as He takes a deep, divine breath to sing loudly about you, His beloved child.
I pray that gives you rest like it did me this morning.