These words from Deuteronomy 7 were like balm on my tired heart this morning:
“God wasn’t attracted to you and didn’t choose you because you were big and important—the fact is, there was almost nothing to you. He did it out of sheer love, keeping the promise he made to your ancestors. God stepped in and mightily bought you back out of that world of slavery, freed you from the iron grip of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know this: God, your God, is God indeed, a God you can depend upon. He keeps his covenant of loyal love with those who love him and observe his commandments for a thousand generations.“
If we’ve talked at all over the last couple of weeks, you know that its been a rough month for me. I found out that I was losing my job right before I left for vacation last month (my last day of work is tomorrow); my dad had a pretty bad motorcyle accident; my car started giving me problems (like the i”m-scared-to-even-drive-it kind of problems); and getting my school stuff nailed down for this semester was as dramatic as a bad soap opera. On the up side, I get to do CollegeLife again at Brentwood this semester; I’ll be leading a serving team for the evening services; Dad is home and resting well- we’re all adjusting to the ‘new normal’ pretty well I think!; my kids and my girls are all getting back and I freakin can’t wait to see them all; and God’s still good.
I recognize that there are times life is rough because God is getting ready to do something big. And while Satan knows he can’t have me, he is still going to do all he can to keep me from being ready to go or recognizing God’s hand moving. I told my small group a couple of years ago that I wanted us to be the kind of women who, when we woke up, Satan cursed “Oh no! She’s awake! I gotta get back to work now.” I know that I struggle with dependency on the Lord and humility for when I need to ask others for help. The situations happening recently in my life are working on those areas, and Satan is fighting back pretty hard- throwing all the forms of discouragement he can muster straight at me. I had a couple of days where I was ‘too busy’ to spend time in the Word, or ‘too something‘ whatever it may be …. and I felt myself drifting into a funk where I didn’t see God working or ask for His help/guidance/perspective etc. on anything going on. I tried to blame it on the weather, or on PMS, or the fact that my new hairdo didn’t turn out the way I pictured it in my head. We are so blind when we don’t look through truth.
The truth is, I’m having a rough month. I won’t sugarcoat it- and its ok for me to have rough times. If anything, I should have more of them! Christ said over and over, and Paul taught over and over, that we would know hardship- that we would be intimately acquainted with pain and sorrow. But the presence of hardship or sorrow doesn’t equate with an absence of Christ- if anything, it magnifies it! CS Lewis once said that “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world”. My roommate gave me a ride to work this morning, and we were talking about how we get in funks, and how our hearts long for more of the presence of God, but we are too stubborn and sometimes too near-sighted to ask or even know what to ask for. But then we rejoiced in Romans 8, where Paul teaches:
” … God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (Romans 8:26-28)
Not only does the Spirit understand our heart’s groanings, he translates them to the Father- ‘he does our praying for us … and keeps us present before God’. I’m actually crying as I write this- the thought that my groanings are understood, and that I am kept present before God is too much for me. But those facts are ‘why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good’.
I can’t write anymore, other than to say that I’m choosing to consider my present stress in light of what God is up to. When that is revealed, the stress will seem like nothing. And I would rather have the stress than not have it, because the presence of rough stuff in life is indicative of the presence and working of God. I’d rather have Jesus in my stress than an a string of easy, happy but not joyful years.