Hear My Cry, Oh Lord! {Team Journal}

Our team journal today is written by Mindy Braun, DWITW's Administrator and Tech and Design Coordinator. 

Pruning: trimming by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, especially to increase fruitfulness and growth. It’s cutting away the branches that aren’t falling off on their own. In order to get the dead, unwanted branches, a sharp tool is used. The branches are forced off the plant because they won’t go away on their own; without pruning, they will remain there and keep the plant from flourishing. 

This past year has been a year of pruning in my life. The Lord removed a church that I held so dearly, He cleared away the overgrown sins in my marriage, and He revealed to me many fruitless branches in my life.  And even though 2017 just started, there have been numerous times this year when I have asked the Lord, “Why? Why are you taking this from me?” It’s been really hard. There have been a lot of hurts, and there sure have been tears. Like puddles everywhere. 

Last Sunday at my current church, we were led through a time of lamenting through prayer. We shared our hearts with God. We grieved the injustices of our city, we cried out for God to heal the hearts of the oppressed and we pleaded for racial reconciliation. In those few moments, I was reminded that we can bring our hurts to God and He cares to hear them. He is a safe place where I can be vulnerable. He knows the inwards parts of my heart and he delights when I choose to come to him.

Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!
— Psalm 61:1-4

The Lord has to prune us. He has to force us to release the dead things in our lives, so that we can flourish. He wants us to live lives full of eternal fruit and growth. It’s not usually an easy process and it can be very painful. There are a lot of questions and tears shed along the way. I know that in the end there is fruit; good, sweet fruit, but I have also learned that throughout the process it is okay to for us to cry out to God, to share our pains with him, to share the sorrows we are feeling. He is with us through that process every step of the way. Find comfort in that. Just the other day, I was sitting in my kitchen, praying through my tears. “Lord, I am just so sad!” It felt like I was sitting in the lap of my heavenly Father. I was able to simply rest in His arms, be comforted by His love and pour out my sadness. Though we are hurt and hearts are crushed, though we may even use sharp words towards our Lord, He still draws us near.  (Psalm 34:17-18)

Even though limbs are being cut away and even though it’s not an easy process, we can look to our Jesus to carry us through that heartache and suffering, and He will give us rest (Matthew 11:28). We still remain in the Vine. He is our source of life. (John 15:5) And remember, God's hand is never closer to you than when you are being pruned. I don't know about you, but that truth right there gives me such peace. 

Ladies, I share this with you so we can be reminded of the promises in His Word and His steadfast love. He is ever so faithful and we can take him at His Word. The work he is doing in us, the pruning that is happening in our lives, the heartache we feel, no matter how hard or how messy it may seem, it is all done in perfect love to make us strong, beautiful, bearers of fruit, to bring true joy into our lives, and to bring our Father glory. (James 1:2-4, 2 Cor. 12:9-10, John 15: 11, Romans 5:3-5) 

This [pruning] of you will be the making of you. A new you. A stronger you. Strengthened not with the pride of perfection, but with the sweet grace of one who knows an intimate closeness with her Lord.
— Lysa TerKeurst

Mindy Braun is an Ohio-born-and-raised, small town girl who has grown to love the city of Dayton. While she's not being mama to her two kids, she and her husband run a photography business out of their home in East Dayton. Mindy has a love for deep friendships, fried chicken, sleeping in, the outdoors, serving the Church, and Oreos after bedtime.