2020 turned into an unexpected, unwanted mishmash of uncertainty, anxiety, cancellations, frustration, fatigue, exasperation, anger, exhaustion, disappointment, a kind of seeming unending ethos of dashed hopes, spiraling fears, sadness and grief.
Now I have an enhanced appreciation of the Psalms that so eloquently express the same range and depth of emotion we are experiencing. The writers honestly pour out their hearts to God, and in the process of persistently calling out to Him, they come around to see and experience God as our refuge and strength, our rock, fortress, deliverer, a very present help in time of trouble. I’m so thankful for God’s redemptive work in the midst of the miry mishmash. God takes us to deeper levels of resilience, resourcefulness and refinement.
The above photos taken on one of my recent walks in the neighborhood resonate with Psalm 77 that I read and reflected on in my quiet time with the Lord. Lots of dark clouds and doubts, but some slivers of light and hope.
The psalmist honestly pours out his heart to the Lord as he wonders where God in in the midst of darkness and distress. He even suffers from insomnia as he is so disturbed by what he is seeing and sensing in his life and times. However, as he begins to remember and reflect on God's character and God's deeds, the darkness gives way to light.
Here's a sampling of the powerful and profound Psalm 77.
1 I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted.
6 I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
7 “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
13 Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.
(Psalm 77:1-2, 6-9, 10-12, 13-14)
Though there are many unknowns in terms of what will happen going forward, I have confidence and joy that God’s purposes, plans and providence will prevail. I praise our awesome God and trust in Him to accomplish His will.
Ministry Continues Through it All
I had been eagerly looking forward to returning to Japan for a short-term mission trip the spring or autumn of this year; but of course, it didn’t happen due to COVID.
Yet, I do have the privilege of sharing that good news with Japanese ladies living near my home church in Wisconsin. Though the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, requiring the wearing of masks and other precautions, by God’s grace and mercy, in September it was possible at Elmbrook Church to resume meeting with a group of Japanese ladies to introduce them to God and His Word. Amazingly, we’ve had perfect attendance all Fall!
People Who Met Jesus
In November we studied the story of the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at a well. In a life-changing conversation she had with Jesus about being thirsty, the woman’s understanding of being thirsty went beyond getting water day after day from a well for physical survival to receiving living water that springs up to eternal life. It’s a great joy to see the Japanese ladies in our group also becoming aware of their need for that water and expressing interest in receiving it. I sense that they are growing in faith, and I’m looking forward to helping them get to know Jesus as their personal Savior.
Advent: A Time to Hope
Despite the disappointments and delays from COVID, at Advent, we can look forward to the coming of the Savior. I’m grateful that we can celebrate His coming. I hope that even while we are in this season of coronavirus stress, the peace and joy of our Savior’s coming will fill your hearts and homes. Have a blessed Christmas and New Year.
With faith, hope, and love,
Dolores "Dee" Wirz
Dolores "Dee" Wirz is the longest-serving missionary to Japan through Asian Access/SIM. Dee first went to Japan in 1975 as a short-termer and just retired last year after serving 44 years! She faithfully shared Christ through countless relationships she developed over that time. Among her enormous contributions, Dee wrote evangelistic bible study materials that have touched thousands of people over the past 35+ years.