If you know me at all, you know I love music. God gave us such an incredible gift when He gave us music, and He wired me to respond and engage with it. That’s why I love listening to, singing, and making music that glorifies His name, and draws our attention away from ourselves and toward His glory. My heart fills with joy whenever I can… “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, [and] burst into jubilant song with music…” (Psalm 98).
But, this last year and half has not been the most joy-filled time of my life. Sure, I experienced a lot of great times, but also deep sorrow, the deepest sorrow I have ever experienced. In October of 2015, my sister died in an extremely tragic way. It was sudden, unexpected, and it completely rocked my family.
When I was at one of the deepest points of mourning, I had a conversation with Pastor Ed. After talking for a while, he suggested I read the first three chapters of Ephesians over and over and over again. He told me not to move on to the later chapters, but to just stick to the first three. Here’s what God revealed:
In the first three books of Ephesians, the apostle Paul writes out, in detail, what our identity is as Christ followers. He says…
- we are chosen (1:4) (1:11)
- we are holy and blameless in His sight (1:4-5)
- we are adopted to sonship through Jesus Christ (1:5)
- we have redemption – the forgiveness of our sins (1:7)
- we have the Holy Spirit Who guarantees our inheritance (1:13-14)
- we are made alive in Christ (2:4-5)
I read these statements of God’s amazing love, and all He offers over and over again. For the first couple days, it was simply therapeutic, offering a little lift from the fog surrounding me. After a week, it started sinking in. Then, during the second week, God made a passage stand out that impacted me deeply. It was a prayer the apostle Paul was praying over the Ephesians. I decided to claim it and pray it over my family and me. Here it is:
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:18-21)
That was it. That’s what I had lost sight of—hope. In my sorrow, in the fog that surrounded me, all hope seemed lost, and my joy went with it. The eyes of my heart had been shut. It wasn’t something I did intentionally; it just slowly happened as I was struggling to just navigate my way through the fog. But then, through His Word and His Holy Spirit, God spoke to me. He offered me a prayer the apostle Paul prayed almost 2,000 years ago. I saw that the eyes of my heart had to be opened so I could know the hope to which He called me. This hope is filled with a glorious inheritance, and His incomparably great power—a power so great, it raised Christ from the dead. It was, is, and always will be greater than any authority, power and dominion, now and yet to come.
Okay, so now I have a goal, a target on the wall; I need to open the eyes of my heart so I can know the hope God offers. How do I do that? Is there some special prayer I need to pray? Or, do I just “will” myself to make it happen? The answer is simply that I can’t do it—I can’t open the eyes of heart. It’s outside of my abilities, and it always will be. The good news is it’s not impossible for God. In fact, He is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine (Eph 3:20). All I had to do in order for the eyes of my heart to be opened so I could see and know the hope God wanted for me was let Him do it. I didn’t have to navigate the fog any longer, God would direct my steps. I didn’t have to crawl and scrape my way out of the pit, God was lifting me out. The fog was clearing, and the pit was behind me, and God did it all.
When I was in the trenches of the deepest sorrow I have ever felt, I discovered there was nothing I could do to scrape my way out of it, no matter how hard I tried. It was the Holy Spirit, working through the power of Scripture and prayer, that helped me see the truth—the truth that I am chosen and adopted. I am holy and blameless in His sight. I have been redeemed through the blood of Jesus, and I have been and am continually being made alive in Christ.
Are you in the depths of sorrow right now? If you are, I would like to encourage you to read the first three chapters of Ephesians over and over and over again. Let the Holy Spirit open the eyes of your heart so you too may know the hope to which God has called you.