A few months ago, I was overjoyed with the newness that was about to be planted at my feet. My mind was rooted in a place of, “I can do this because I am a christian and because I am in contact with the Lord, things will work out beautifully, perfectly and it will be difficult but so, so, good.” It was a mindset flooded by pride and ego in a sense, believing that life would look a valley but feel like a mountain because I was who I was in that moment, not so much because of God is who He is steadily. I was wrong. It looked and looks and will continue to like and feel like a valley because often times our obedience to His call is not a guarantee that we will be led to comfortability or happiness but that we will be led near to Him.
Within the last three months the Lord has stripped me of that pride, that alone, I can do anything, that I am unstoppable and all things good. Because alone, I can do nothing, my life can easily be ceased and alone, I am all things ugly and impure. I have been continuously angry at God asking Him why He intentionally led me to failure, to pain, to a heart with nothing but confusion and awareness of brokenness. “Isn’t that the antithesis of God?” I thought, isn’t He supposed to be, “good to all; (as) He has compassion on all he has made.” (Psalm 145:9) Because the anger and confusion in my heart has not felt like there is a God who loves me immensely. It has felt like there was an inactive God who doesn’t have connection to my pain and sorrow.
It has felt like the social media lies that I submit to in believing everyone’s life is far more put together and lovely than mine. It has felt like pure confusion in not being able to make a steady decision without wondering if I will ruin all that has been prayed for. It has felt and looked like sitting in a valley having extreme anger towards the God who promises to love me and holds “plans to prosper and not to harm me.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
And I don’t think there is wrongness in questioning God’s plan or even being angry with Him in general. I think He encourages us to question Him. This is not new. This is not wrong to do. The faithful followers in the bible had identical feelings of uncertainty of pure love, even the only perfect human to walk the earth had a moment of questioing the Lord. Matthew 27:46 reads, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
What I forget in times of drought is that Jesus is far more familiar with the pain my heart feels than I will ever be with it. He is not far from it or distanced from our brokenness. He knows it first hand because He not only took it on to begin with, but also the weight of that pain. 1 Peter 3:18 reminds us, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous.” And this once was not a mere suffering. It was not a pinch of hurt or heartbreak. Imagine all the pain you have felt in your life. Think up all the jealousy, anger, fear, discomfort and misery you have taken on. Now, add the weight and burden you have carried allowing that pain to exist while multiplying it by the rest of the overall hurt of every being, past, present and to come. That was the pain of Jesus so it is foolish for us to go on living our lives as if our grief is solely our own, as if it is far from relatable, as if God could not comprehend or comfort our deep sorrow.
When I read the book Love Does by Bob Goff, I hated, absolutely hated the line he wrote saying, “Sometimes God leads us into failure so we’ll experience more of His grace, not less of His love.” I wondered how he could truly believe this while simultaneously believing the Lord loves Him with His whole being, with His entirety of His infinity. Why would Someone who loves us lead us into failure? In our broken hearts, success, the antonym of failure, is our goal. It is what we place high upon our heart shelf, seeing it as the end all be all. But the truth is, the Lord knows the Jesus is the end all be all. He knows that in our desperation within failure, we will crave Him in the same way a deer pants for water. Because He knows He is the true, endless well that provides and for us to come closer to His heart, He is willing for us to experience failure. And is not because He is punishing us or hating us. It is because He loves us enough to allow the rain to pour while He is aware we have no umbrella just so we run back home, just so He can throw our clothes in the dryer and allow us to rest in true, heavenly, comfort.
My friend Tori always reminds me, “Jesus doesn’t waste things.” He doesn’t. He truly, truly does not waste what we are going through. There is purpose in all of it and the purpose is continually for us to come in closer contact to Him, meeting Him each day as both a friend and Father, meeting Him in submission saying, “Lead me. Even if it hurts me, lead me because I want to sit closer to you each day than the morning prior.”
I have struggled with reading in 2 Timothy about the last few days on earth for some time now. I have lost hope in reading, “In the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” I have found the absence of assurance in knowing what the last days on earth will look like. I didn’t know why I would have any reason to pick up the cross each day, to be kind, to love, if this world was just going to end in pure destruction.
If the world was going to end in this manner regardless of what I did, what would be the point of putting forth any effort? This week I realized that the point of our love is not to lead others to the goodness of this world but to the promise of eternity. That sounded like a weird sermon. Yuck. But you get the picture. This world is only a preview but when we treat it as if this world is it, we will never be satisfied because there is an eternity to come and it will be far more beautiful than we can ever imagine. Our job here on earth is to come as close as we can to the One awaiting our arrival, not because it is simple or because our hearts always naturally trust that He is all we need but because without Him, our lives are as meaningless as leading simply to lead to the goodness of this world.
So because there is far more than our earthly eyes can see, we have to trust that this pain has purpose even if it hurts more than we can put into words. There is pain but it is not a hopeless pain because we are not a hopeless creation. He is present and jealous and wants you more than any sign of earth ever could. He is a God who is with you in your pain and can say, “I understand that hurt, more than you ever will be able to.” He knows and even in all the mess you feel, it is Him. It is Him working not for your earthly happiness but for your heavenly joy, calling you closer to the only reality there ever will be.