We know that tough stuff is going to hit us periodically. It’s just part of life. But we have this assumption that crap is supposed to be the exception. That we get thorough it. To the good part. That trials and tribulations should only last for a while. And then be done, occasionally resurfacing to be replaced by the good life.
But what happens when the tough stuff doesn’t quit. When it just goes on and on and on. When living means going from one crisis to another crisis to another crisis with stress and hurt and fear continuing unabated with no expectation that it will end. How do you live with hope when the hard part never quits? How do you soar on wings of eagles? Run and not faint? How does your joy overflow when your heart is shredded with worry and sadness?
I’m a person of faith. I believe deeply and sincerely that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the good news for all people, and the Reconciler of God and man. I look to my faith, Scripture, and fellow believers for life answers. And I look to God for hope and healing. But right now, I’m tired. I’m not full of the assurance of things hoped for or confident of the things unseen. I’m overwhelmed, sad, and gripped by fear for someone I love. Again. Or is it still.
I can’t tell you the details, because this life I’m living is not isolated from others. My story is entangled with others and their story is not for me to tell. So I’m not going to share the gritty, unpleasant details of heartache, crisis, stress, and worry that has filled my life for a long time. But it’s what’s normal for me.
For some time, I thought I was “handling” it all pretty well. God felt close even as life morphed from one stress to another crisis to another heartache. I experienced joy, peace, and hope. I’m surrounded by a community of people who love me, support me, bring me encouragement, and pray for me. I often get to share encouragement with others who are dealing with difficulties, perhaps especially because I understand what it’s like to walk through the fire.
But right now, I’m not handling it well. My body is telling me that’s it’s been abused by too much worry. Sleep is a challenge. I’m indescribably annoyed with the crying but can’t make it stop. I really, really don’t want to be around people. And I don’t want to talk with God. I’m mad. Very, very angry with the Lord of Lords, Maker of the Universe, and Redeemer of my life. I feel betrayed, ignored and alone. He answers trivial prayers – the small stuff. But on things that really matter – life and death, wellness and wholeness, about people I love so deeply I’d give my life for them without hesitation – He’s silent and nothing changes. At least not the way I want it to change.
So why am I writing. To complain about God. No. I’m writing to declare that I still have faith. Sometimes, I’m not sure why my faith remains. But it does. And I trust. I trust Him. I’m mad and I’m hurt, but I believe. This is not about theology. I can share with you the good news and preach a sermon about perseverance, endurance, and hope. This is about truth. His truth and my truth.
When I have to be around people, I will zip up my heart and press on a smile. But not because I want to pretend everything is hunky dory. Simply because there’s life in being around people I love and who love me. But if I walk around with my raw heart exposed and uncovered, then every encounter with other people is about me and my crap. And that’s exhausting. And I’m so pathetically sick of tears. So I cover my heart and get on with the busyiness and business of life. But I have no patience for lies.
So here is truth. He is God. He is good. And He is Lord. But I’m still angry. And I still feel hurt. And that’s my truth.
I believe that the feelings I have at the moment will morph into hope, peace, and joy again. Eventually. I trust that He is at work in my life and the lives of those I love. I believe that someday I’ll see the good in all of this. But today. I’m tired. And I want the fan to turn off and the shit to quit flying.
Am I looking down at the waves, allowing their power and instability to pull me under? Probably. Do I know who is master of the wind and the waves? Absolutely. So that’s the dilemma when you’re living in a perpetual storm. What rules my heart? My feelings or His truth. My feelings don’t change by ignoring them or faking them or judging them. So I wait for the truth of my feelings to be transformed by the truth of His love.
I don’t feel hope, but I put my hope in Him. I don’t feel peace, yet I cling to my Peace. I don’t have assurance, yet I trust Him. And I don’t understand, but I believe.
Lamentations 3:21,22 (NLT)
Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.