Portion Control for the Soul

As you may have recently read in my previous blog, my furry best friend Maya unexpectedly and tragically passed away last week, leaving me totally alone – just God and myself. Those first days that followed, I found that a few of the only moments that spared me from my own tears were a handful of moments when I could hold my hand on my heart and sing softly along to worship music. One song in particular– Healer by Kari Jobe – hit home with me in particular two days after the traumatic loss of my loved little companion.  The phrase that stuck out the most –

I believe You’re my Portion. I believe You’re more than enough for me. Jesus you’re all I need.” And, forgive the temporary disregard for the seriousness of the lyrics, but at that moment – I had to chuckle.

Where do I start? I am infamously known for lack of portion control. When I buy a plate, I buy 42 of them because you never know when you might throw a huge shindig (which has happened 1 time in 8 years by the way, and hand washing them all made me understand that in those times – disposable is better!!) When I eat chocolate, I would really like to eat enough to make me not want anymore, but I have yet to find that this happens!! If there are sauces to choose from, I’d prefer a little of all of them with a meal. My husband tells me I should not need a paper towel to dry hands after hand sanitizer. He drops his jaw when he sees my idea of adequate amounts of toothpaste, lotion, and shampoo. He sometimes even asks which dinner plate is his if I was hungry while cooking. I just always think more is better. It is better than not enough.

So when I lost Maya, it is only natural that I searched for as much comfort as I could find. MORE IS BETTER. But I did not exactly have the luxury with Bryan gone and family and friends physically in a separate country. Two days later, I heard this phrase and began thinking about it. He is my Portion.  I began looking up verses talking about God as our Portion. The one that stuck out to me happened to be in Lamentations 3. Lamentations – how appropriate. As I read it in context, it was extremely odd for what I was hoping for (I mean just read chapter 3…).  However, as I began to read more on the chapter, the verses 24-29 in particular and commentary were unbelievably perfect relating to what I was experiencing in my life.  Maybe you will find it fitting for times in your life too –

“The LORD is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, the soul who seeks Him.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him;

let him put his mouth in the dust – there may yet be hope.” (Lamentations 3:24-29)

Though this wasn’t really warm or fuzzy (especially at first) to read…the more I read about this passage the more I knew its importance –

  1. God is our portion and promises He is more than enough for us. I knew this in my head and have said it with my mouth, but I needed my soul to know it… and how could I come to know this in my soul except through experiencing in a situation where He was, in fact, all I had so I might personally find Him to be all I need?
  2. The yoke is believed to refer to the suggestion that it is good for a youth to be yoked to faith early in life and to experience affliction and waiting on God our affliction… and further – it is good that we are quiet and go to God to sort out our distrustful thoughts when afflicted. Unfortunately, I can’t report that quiet was my initial response. From the moment I screamed as I plopped down beside my car at the vet, to the moment I made it onto post to begin processing what had just happened, I cannot say quiet was the appropriate word. But quietness had its place and necessary effect as I was – as I said – all alone. I had initially wanted to run and scream my heartbreaking news to my closest loved ones. While I wanted to talk to somebody, God knew that only in quietness and coming to Him could I begin to receive the help I needed. The Lord knew I’d had plenty of healthy and unhealthy emotions and thoughts to sort out. In God’s kindness, Bryan did call but we only had a brief moment, but I felt like I needed so much more. But I am almost certain that God specifically directed every phone call I initially made to go to voicemail so I could come to Him first. By the time I spoke to anyone, I believe God was able to have demanded my attention first and thus had already begun working as my comforter and present help.
  3. The verse goes on to say that it is good to wait on God and seek Him with our souls essentially bowing down to the dust in our sorrow. The commentary suggests that this is also when – if necessary – it is beneficial and important to begin recognizing sin, receiving forgiveness, mercy, strength, and correction from God. It is peculiar, but over the course of time spent seeking God in the midst of this hard time in my life, this event has caused plenty of time to reflect and I have not only been able to sort out distrustful thoughts with God regarding my grief for losing Maya, but I’ve also experienced a heightened awareness of totally unrelated sin I have needed to confess and accept grace for even from years ago. It is a mystery to me how this situation brought other things to mind, but I believe God works in a broken person to rebuild and restore whatever He can if a person is willing to let Him.
  4. This same commentary by Matthew Henry said that this yoke is part of being weaned from the world. I believe God wants to change the habits of his children. Instead of running to the people I have always gone to first, God wants to be my Portion. Instead of spewing my emotionally healthy and unhealthy thoughts all at one or a few poor souls trying to help me sort my wholesome and harmful emotions and thoughts out and bear the weight of trying to encourage me solo, He wants to sort them and help me see straight again when I have been knocked dizzy by life’s most difficult moments. People and comforts here on Earth can be so sweet. I cannot begin to explain to you the overwhelming blessing I have in my husband and parents-in-law in particular who have not hesitated to shower empathy and the most treasured forms of love and encouragement on me because they know the heartbreak of even deeper loss of Bryan’s precious sister. Family and friends that ache, mourn and cry with you and speak encouragement and prayers for you are priceless! But even so, no matter how much comfort we seek, earthly comfort will always pale in comparison to the compassion of God. He can comfort us when we are betrayed because Jesus knew how it was when Judas betrayed him. He can comfort us when we feel deserted or alone because he remembers well his heart when the disciples deserted him in fear. He can comfort us when we are brought harm because Christ has been there and done that too. And He is the all-time most wonderful comforter when we suffer loss because God remembers the sacrifice of His own beloved Son. Where is He when bad things happen? On His throne hoping desperately that we’ll come to Him so He can cover us with the compassion He has from His own understanding and to heal us and shape us to the image of Christ. Weaning from the world is His want for us because a part of maturing includes becoming less dependent on people and more dependent on the loving and more than capable God who gives perfect comfort, lasting restoration and love to rebuild us if we’d just run to him.
  5. Then there is the part where it says “there may yet be hope.” Perhaps the most wonderful notation in that commentary to me was what I am experiencing at the moment…it says “Those who are truly humbled for sin will be glad to obtain a good hope, through grace, upon any terms, though they put their mouth in the dust for it…” This is where He’s brought me. Though I have had such sorrow for this little but precious loss in my life…whatever the cost, I remain grateful that God is using such a hurt in my life for correction, restoration, and weaning in my heart. I praise Him for the gift of my precious dog to our family, and I praise Him that even when He had to take her – He did not have her die in vain, but He has continued to use that sweet little dog for shaping my heart. In life she filled me with joy; in death that sweet little dog so earned my broken heart and buckets of tears that He is able to teach me still through the grief of losing her.

What a hard but important life lesson in faith. As I find myself figuratively wiping the dust off my lips, I am filled with wonder and thanks to the mercies, compassion and correction from a loving Father to never let my brokenness be wasted if we’d seek Him through it. I haven’t always sought Him (especially in difficult times), but I am assured now more than ever of the power He is capable of showing through our weaknesses. My Portion. Your Portion. Wait For Him. May your soul seek Him.  May you find Him to be as He promises – more than enough – and may you find yourself glad that you searched and waited even if you have had to put your mouth to the dust from time to time.

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