His Plan For My Tears

by DanWolgemuth on May 27, 2022

Buffalo. Mariupol. And now… Uvalde.

The pain. The sorrow. The uncontained evil.

An 18-year-old with toxic racial hatred. A 69-year-old with tanks and an army. Another 18-year-old with the means to kill.

Tears… Unimaginable grief.

You have kept count of my tossings;

put my tears in your bottle.

Are they not in your book? (Psalm 56:8, ESV)

These incredible words from King David are an invitation into authenticity. David’s pain is real. He’s lost in the agony of defeat. His hope has taken a blow. He’s reeling. Much like communities across our country and cities around the world.

Eugene Peterson puts it this way in The Message:

You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn

through the sleepless nights,

Each tear entered in your ledger,

each ache written in your book.

Sleepless nights. Each ache recorded.

Faith in God does not insulate us from pain. In fact, we’re told that the very tears we cry have been stored in a bottle… but this bottle contains more than just my tears.

Our tears have company, companionship… and amazingly, not just with other saints, but with the tears of Jesus.

Jesus wept. (John 11:35)

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it. (Luke 19:41)

Not a polite sniffle, He wept. Over personal loss. Over the grief of His treasured friends. Over the brokenness and systemic evil of a city He loved.

Real tears. Real lament.

Notice Jesus doesn’t say… “suck it up”, “get over it”, “it’s not that bad”, “it will all work out”…

No, He weeps. And over the very things that His faithful ones should weep about. Like Buffalo. Like Mariupol. Like Uvalde. Like…

The Apostle Paul’s instruction to followers of Jesus is this…

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. (Romans 12:14-15)

Harmony. Music with our grief. Our tears in a choir. With Jesus.

When we weep… when the tears come… it is the hand of Jesus holding the bottle. He welcomes our tears. He greets them with His own.

Our pain is not a solo journey. Our grief is not in isolation.

There is a bottle… with tears. Tears from Texas. Tears from Ukraine. Tears from New York. My tears. Your tears. And yes, the tears of our Savior.

Hope does not dismiss the tears, it collects them. It invests them. It embraces the reality of a broken world, and a Gospel of grace.

He was despised and rejected by men,

a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; (Isaiah 53:3)

Emmanuel. God with us. Jesus. The collector of our tears. Until that day. The day…

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

Come Lord Jesus, come.

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Pomp & Circumstance

by DanWolgemuth on May 20, 2022

Ah, yes… graduation. Achievement celebrated. Transition initiated. The future anticipated.

And, of course, cards and gifts purchased.

For those biblically-minded gift givers, a laser etching of Jeremiah 29:11 is always a favorite.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.“

As God communicates with His chosen people (who are now in exile in godless Babylon), He makes a robust and hope-inspiring promise. A promise that looks wonderful in walnut, barnwood or in a plexiglass frame.

God has plans for us. Good plans, not evil. “Hope and a future!” What graduate doesn’t want this kind of promise?

Yet, I fear that by isolating a verse, any verse, and imputing meaning without context, we venture into dangerous territory. Potentially, heretical.

In fact, this promise in Jeremiah 29 is the hand, over which the glove of Babylonian captivity fit snuggly. 70 more years of captivity. Eugene Peterson, in his paraphrase of this passage puts it this way…

“As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”

The glorious promise of God through Jeremiah had a 70-year incubation period. 70 years.

I don’t see many graduation gifts being etched with that reality, but that’s what happened. 70 years in exile… and yet, God directed something profound and beautiful before verse 11. Something that informs and amplifies the promise. He commanded His people, the exiles, to bring “shalom” to the hostile environment that they were captive to. Don’t wait for Jerusalem. Be peacemakers. Here. Now.

God told His people to put down roots, to plant gardens, to have babies and raise families… in Babylon. Long before the return trip to Jerusalem. He proclaimed to His people that they should be exporters of peace before they became importers of the promise (see Jeremiah 29:4-7).

God put it this way… “And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away as captives, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.” (Jeremiah 29:7, NKJV)

In the face of Babylonian exile. Against the timeline of decades of limitations and loss. We seek the peace. We bring peace. We cultivate peace.

Not by Tweeting or posting or ranting… but by moving into neighborhoods, and opening up our tables, and loving our enemies, and listening, and dispensing compassion, and by living and loving the truth… and yes, by praying to the Lord on behalf of our cities.

Consider this a graduation challenge. A calling for every Christ-following, gown-wearing, tassel-donning diploma recipient. Be what God calls you to be. His agents and ambassadors of Shalom in the middle of the chaos, confusion and hatred. Even in exile. Especially in exile.

Only He knows the plans. But He promises good, not evil. For eternity.

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Grace in the Bleachers

May 6, 2022

I was a freshman at Wheaton Central High School. A newly minted Tiger, and a member of the wrestling team. More specifically, an 80-pound member of the team, with high school weight classes starting at 98 pounds. Midway through the season, I was elevated to the sophomore team, which meant an inaugural match against our […]

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“Follow Me”

April 29, 2022

As I journeyed through the concluding pages of “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry”, John Mark Comer, the author of the book, invoked these words from the Apostle Paul… “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business…” (1 Thessalonians 4:11, NLT) A quiet life. After Comer spends pages and pages highlighting […]

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First…

April 22, 2022

Youth For Christ is a ministry that I love. It reaches 11 to 19-year-old young people through the conduit of relationship with the timeless message of hope in Christ. Part of what I love about the mission is who God uses to share the message. Rescued and redeemed sinners. Self-conscious and underqualified. Those who could […]

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What if…

April 15, 2022

Over the years as Mary and I reflect on another anniversary, we are drawn to a question that illuminates gratitude and humility in our souls. It’s not an easy question, but worthwhile. It started with something like… “What would my life be like today if I had not married you?”  This question fuels the engine […]

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Forty-four Year Ago Today

April 8, 2022

April 8th. The year was 1978. I was two weeks away from turning 23, and Mary was a couple months from being 22. Kids. Especially in today’s math. Franklin, Michigan. A small, but classic church with a center aisle. In anticipation of this day, I had written a small tribute that I planned to recite […]

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Breaking News

April 1, 2022

Have you noticed? Nearly every newscast starts with some variation on this “Breaking News” theme. Do you remember when “Breaking News” meant… well, breaking news? In an atmosphere that is cluttered with stories, and headlines, and Tweets, and Posts, and Podcasts, something has to push to the front of the line. “Breaking News” is that […]

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Study this Book of Instruction continually…

March 18, 2022

Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” “See that no one leads you […]

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Dear Mr. Putin – It’s me again…

March 11, 2022

Since my last letter, I’ve thought often of you. Not surprisingly, so has the rest of the world. And with good reason. Your thirst for power, and your willingness to put the planet on edge has propelled you to the front page of every newspaper in the world.  Most of us are wondering what motivates […]

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