In the midst of all these upbeat blog posts, I have to be truthful. I’ve been having a rough few weeks. I suppose that is why I’ve not shared a lot lately. Who wants to hear the bummer thing, stressing about decisions, finances, family, work, grief…
Yeah, you caught that last one. In August Rich was gone for 3 years. At the end of October (just a few days ago), my maid of honor and very dearest friend, Judy, likewise has been gone for 3 years. She died just a little over a month after Rich did. I remember her telling me that she never thought she would live longer than Rich did. She too was deeply grieved at Rich’s death. When Rich had first heard about Judy from me, when we were corresponding by email, he had programmed his cell phone alarm with the text, “Pray for Judy,” so that he would remember to pray for her fight against cancer every day. And that he did, until his stroke in July of 2007. Then, of course, he didn’t need his alarm.
I miss them both so much.
But it is also struggles with life, and then I realized, if I don’t share these things, how will you know? And how can there be any encouragement in Christ if we are not all in this together?
I have some friends who have been looking for work for too long now. Others are struggling with finances. Yet others are overworked or struggling with terrible health problems and family problems. And for all the prayers that God has answered for me so wonderfully, there a dozen other prayers that I weep over.
All of us have those sore spots in our soul that we never talk about. Like grief, we dance around the hole of our pain. We see in each other’s eyes that the pain is there, but we deny it with vehemence.
“How are you? Your eyes look a bit red, are you OK?” Someone asks me, and I shut her out by answering, “No, I’m fine, just tired.”
How am I supposed to share in a crowded room that I spent the morning weeping over a thousand losses great and small?
How am I supposed to share when there are Job’s comforters out there. The ones who say, “You should never have left Israel to begin with.” The ones who say, “If you were really in God’s will, this never would have happened.” The ones who claim to have an inside ear to God’s seeming silence. The asker isn’t one of them, but one of them might overhear…
But if I don’t share, then how can I be an encouragement to my friends who are also struggling? How can anyone encourage me? How can we encourage one another while it is still day, for the night is coming?
How can I encourage when I have not gotten “there” yet? But the truth is none of us has arrived. We are all on a journey on the straight and narrow road, and Jesus did not promise easy pain-free, or questions free.
He did promise, “I am with you always, even to the end of the earth.”
I am learning that His presence is enough. I don’t need, and probably wouldn’t understand, the answers. But I must have HIM.
Perhaps we are learning, and oh yes, it is hard, but just maybe we are learning to live that old hymn, “You can have all the world—but give me Jesus.”
I pray for myself, and all my friends who are struggling, “Give us Jesus.”
“Where is God when it hurts?” He is always there, even when His presence seems to be veiled, even through the dark night of the soul. Sometimes it seems as if the pain is unbearable, but in the worst of times, remember that “underneath are the everlasting arms.” The Lord will bring you through, and one day “there will no longer be death or mourning or crying or pain” and He will wipe every tear from our eyes! Love you, Debbie!
Commit your way to ADONAI; trust in him, and he will act.
He will make your vindication shine forth like light, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
That’s being honest, Debbie. We need to be. The “stiff upper lip” doesn’t lead to real fellowship, does it?
Hang in there Debbie. May His arms of love surround and strengthen you.
One thing that seems paradoxical — but, then, much in the life in the Lord turns out to be so — is that our witness is most effective when we think we are in the depths of despair and the dark night of the soul will never have a dawn. A sister in my fellowship once said that a non-believing neighbor brought her some food when she was recuperating from a debilitating illness and thought she looked like she had gone through 42 levels of hell and was still descending — when her neighbor asked, “How can you remain so relentlessly upbeat through all this!?” Upbeat was the last thing she was feeling at the time; but holding onto her inner peace made an impression on her neighbor. Of course, we have the witness of St. Paul, who said that when he is weakest, God is strongest. This is why we boast of our afflictions. Our fellowship once studied a book called “The Truth about Troubles.” And I’ve said countless times since then that for my money, the truth about troubles is that I hate them, and they tend to push me away from their source. I still have a hard time wrapping my head (to say nothing of my spirit) around the notion that the Lord uses troubles to draw us toward him. And lately the only thing I find myself doing is yelling at him. But even in yelling at him, I recognize that the only source of deliverance, the only source of strength, the only source of victory is him. Thanks be to God!
Thanks, I needed that.
We hear your cry to the living God who is able to keep you from falling. We get so much of our encouragement from the Psalms of David.
In Psa. 59:17 we read “O my Strength, I sing praise to You; You, O God, are my FORTRESS, my LOVING GOD. David went through so many hardships but he knew who to turn to in time of trouble. Of course we have troubles BUT the living God who is our Savior AND Redeemer does carry us through.
Look at Psa. 23:4 it says “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” We walk THROUGH i.e. in the tunnel of trial there is light at the end and we walk OUT on the other side. PTL. John Salinger 17.48
I’m hearing you, Debbie. God continues to be our strength.