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Making Space

[5 minutes]
Mindsetter Moment: You have made it 6 days into your 30 for 30 journey! This is cause for celebration! If you have been encouraged through your daily reading and prayer, don’t keep it to yourself. Write down the names of 2 or 3 friends you would like to encourage. Don’t get distracted now! Text them after your thirty minutes with Jesus.

[15 minutes]
Scripture reading:

Ezra 3:1-4:23
1 Corinthians 2:6-3:4
Psalm 28:1-9
Proverbs 20:24-25

Devotional thought
When Babylon fell to Persia, it ushered in not just the end of the Jewish exile, but the beginning of a new form of government. Previous empires conquered via killing, plundering, enslaving, and carting people off to their own territory, leaving destruction in their wake.

The Persian empire was different. Influenced by the Greeks, they recognized the waste of leaving whole nations destroyed. Rather than traditional conquest, Persia chose to conquer by bringing nations into the empire, building them up, and charging them taxes. Thus, the Jews exiled to Babylon were sent back to rebuild with the understanding that they would remain part of the Persian empire, following its laws and, most importantly, paying its taxes.

Ezra was leading the group of exiles returning to Judah, and he had begun a massive undertaking. Ezra was moving a group of people “home” when many of the people in this group had only known Babylon as home. In Ezra 3:8-13 the people have begun their temple rebuild, and it is emotional. There are people shouting for joy and people weeping!

The text tells us that, “no one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.” Ezra 3:13

The author captures the image in a powerful and poignant manner. For those who grew up without a temple, this is a beautiful, exhilarating moment! They have heard the stories of the old temple passed down through the generations. For those who knew the original temple, this is a bitter-sweet moment. It is a time of joy for the new laced with loss of the old. Can you see it? Can you feel it? Do you know it?

What applies to me?
This is a moment most of us know well. It’s captured in the shimmering eyes of a grandmother, who holds the newest family member at the bedside of the oldest. This moment when new is created within the shadow of loss is the moment we see in Ezra.

What does this mean for us? In our western culture, we don’t have a great process for dealing with emotion. We are the kings and queens of “fake it til’ we make it.” The author of Ezra doesn’t quote Scripture to those who are sad, nor do they judge the emotions of the happy ones. They simply live it,  write it down and make space for it in the story.

Maybe you are walking through disappointment right now. Perhaps you've lost someone important in your life, lost a dream, or been given some crushing news. Today would be a good day to stop telling yourself all the things you’ve been saying to silence your grief. Today would be a good day to simply live it, write it down, and make space for it in your story.

[10 minutes]
Write it out: Whatever you are grieving right now, make some literal space in your journal for it. Write everything that you can and need to right now.

Pray it out: Psalm 34:18 says; “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” If you can pray about your grief, take some time to invite God into the situation. If you don’t have words for it yet, turn on some worship music and invite God to just “be near” you for the next few minutes.

Live it out: Grief is a natural part of life, make space for it and invite God to be near you through it.