I know a lot of people going through difficult situations right now…tragedy, loss, pain, recovery and uncertainty. It’s tough to hear about and think about sometimes because there’s just so much brokenness in the world. It almost feels like I’m in a vast field of land mines, and they’re exploding all around me, so close I can feel the heat.
It’s easy to let my mind wonder: Why didn’t God fix this? Why didn’t He prevent that? Why didn’t He heal immediately? Why does He wait? Why is He letting all of this just fall apart?
As someone who believes deeply in God, you would think it would be easy for me to know what to say or how to answer these questions. But sometimes, these situations cause more questioning in my own heart than anything else, so I sit uncomfortably silent, wondering how to comfort someone when I myself doubt the goodness of God because of the tragedy at hand.
So I’ve been thinking. And praying. And wondering. How do I know?
How do I know God is real and He loves me? How do I read the Bible in perfect peace, trusting its words of guidance and love? How do we do that when we don’t know what the next minute will bring, when we bare scars from what’s already been done to us?
I’ve been very fortunate in this life (so far). Yes, there have been heartbreak and sadness and disappointment and tears…so many tears. However, I’ve yet to walk through the valley of loss caused by the death of a very close loved one. I’ve yet to hear the words of a terminal diagnosis. I have never experienced starvation, abuse, abandonment or terror.
What I once may have called luck, I have matured enough to realize God swooped into my life when I needed Him most around the tender age of twelve, guided me back to a good path, and I’ve never looked back (possible future blog about this particular personal journey, so stay tuned. Trying to be better about telling my story, including the tough parts). I may have never struggled with drinking or drugs, but other demons jumped on my back, ones that I didn’t even know at the time, that God was helping me battle.
I think sometimes we look for the sensational in our simple, practical stories. We ask for glitzy miracles and big movements. And we feel we deserve them because hey, isn’t it our turn? Our time? But when did we stop (or did we ever start?) erecting altars where He has already been faithful? Why didn’t we tell the world when He did something, big or small, instead of telling them what He hasn’t been doing? What if we looked back and looked around, took note of His gifts and faithfulness in big and small ways, and were overwhelmed at how close He’s always been? I feel this can only aid our prayer life. We would be so assured of His love and care that we would a) pray more boldly and b) accept whatever happens with peace and trust. Bloom where we’re planted, so to speak. Let our pursuit for peace, compassion, forgiveness, and love be the meaning of our lives instead of our vocation or achievements.
I’ll be the first to admit this is difficult. In our year and a half journey of infertility trying for baby #2, I’m much more at a loss of where to go next than I anticipated. It’s easy when things are going well to boldly say, “Well, should I experience this loss or that disappointment, I’ll remain faithful and just move on.” But in the middle of it, that’s much harder to do. It’s tantalizing and it makes the heart ache and you think, just a little longer, maybe I can wait.
And I’ve realized, sometimes it’s ok to just let it be uncomfortable for awhile. Just because I’ve given it to God doesn’t mean the ache goes away. It doesn’t mean I’m completely accepting of my circumstances. It doesn’t mean I still don’t wish it to be different. It doesn’t mean I don’t get jealous, upset at God, a little bitter, and even give up some days. It simply means He comes and crouches down next to me. Waits with me. Listens. And in a world that is increasingly harsh, this is enough. He’s always there when I come back around, shoulders sagging, to dump my problems at His feet once again.
If we’ve yet to give God the small things or trust Him with the minuscule how can we expect to have faith for the mighty things? And if we have yet to acknowledge Him for how He has already provided, how can we expect and be sure He will again? Isn’t that where doubt creeps in?
I may have never known His miracles but I have known His comfort. It’s as tangible as warmth on my skin. I may have never heard His audible voice but I have heard His love spoken into my life, be it through the Bible, my family, my friends, or a perfectly-timed card in the mail. I have known His presence, if I take the time to notice, though I can’t quite describe it. It’s all as clear in my life as my reflection in the mirror.
It comes from counting the blessings and telling our story. We all have one, and it takes courage to tell it. I think once we do, we’ll find we’re not alone in more ways than one.
I hear these people asking me
How do I know what I believe?
Well, I’m not the same me, and that’s all the proof I need…
To our human nature, God’s commands are difficult. But they become divinely easy once we obey. If I am in the habit of continually holding God’s standard in front of me, my conscience will always direct me to God’s perfect law and indicate what I should do. Is my ear sensitive enough to hear even the softest whisper of the Spirit so that I know what I should do? His voice is so gentle that it is easy enough for us to ignore. And the only thing that keeps our conscience sensitive to Him is the habit of being open to God on the inside. ~Oswald Chambers