In The Midst
I know that I said I'd be posting about National Parks and traveling next, and that is still in the works, but I wanted to do a little freestyle. What does that mean? Every post you've read up to this point has gone through multiple drafts and I have done my best to edit them (not that that actually gets rid of my poor grammar and mechanics). So a freestyle is simply me going straight from head to blog. No handwritten drafts. Probably no editing. And this is likely to be much more disjointed than my previous posts.
I wanted to write this because frankly the past two weeks have really been tumultuous for a litany of reasons that would be completely inappropriate to write about. I will say this, though, what causes strife can always be boiled down to sin. Always. In a certain sense, it does not matter what exactly caused the grief. What does matter is how I respond to it.
All of my previous blog posts have been written from a general stance of reflection. Sure, I'll admit that I still struggle with some of those things that I wrote about, but those things are actually really easy to be vulnerable about because I feel on the outside of them. What happens though when I get in the midst of a whole bunch of things going absolutely sideways? When it seems like everyday brings a new form of grief and I don't know when it's going to end? What do I do and where do I run? If I'm being honest, a lot of the times my first reaction is to not go to Jesus. It's to go to myself and my understanding, then to others and their understanding, and then to my Father in heaven. In the past two weeks I have cried many tears, sought much counsel, and been encouraged by countless people. With each tear there was another, with every counseling session I left with more questions of myself, and with each encouragement I didn't want to accept or believe it. Oh yes, ya boy has been in it.
A few weeks ago a friend of mine shared the song Smile by Mikky Ekko with me. The lyrics go like this
Smile, the worst is yet to come We'll be lucky if we ever see the sun Got nowhere to go, we could be here for a while But the future is forgiven so smile
We're trying so hard to get it all right But only if you're lonely at the end of the night And I wanna be somewhere away from this place And somewhere just a little closer to grace
Well, call me loser, call me thief Tell me I'm special when you spit at me Cause I don't wanna be lonely, I wanna be loved And I want you hold me like I'm the only one
Smile Time will eventually knock on my door And tell me I'm not needed around anymore But he'll hold me so close at the end of the day
Now, I have zero clue what the artist was going for in the song. This song could have nothing to do with the Bible, Jesus, and religion. However, I went through a mental exegesis of this song because I relate so much with the verses. With that in mind, after listening to this for a few weeks I told my friend that I kind of struggle with this song, mostly because of the first two lines.
Smile, the worst is yet to come
We'll be lucky if we ever see the sun
The worst is yet to come? What a terrible outlook on life! I started contemplating grief, pain, and suffering. I know that there will be a day when, for believers, pain is no more (Revelation 21:4). From a Biblical analysis this line can only mean two things:
Life will continue to give you tougher obstacles
Hell is worst that is yet to come and pain here is nothing in comparison to that pain (Matthew 13:41-42, wow that got real deep real quick)
I'll speak to first one. I resolved that life will continue to give you tougher obstacles to overcome. I have notice that my progression through forgiveness is that the cause grief and hurt has been less and less about a particular things and more about the perceived positioning of the griever's heart. When words and actions don't line up I find more truth in the actions and it hurts. Grief will come more frequently from those who say they want to be close to you; I think this is especially true to people who pursue Christ. We are called to pursue unity (Ephesians 4:1-5) and to constantly forgive (Matthew 18:21-22) . It is easy for me to get inundated with trying so hard to get it all right, and then get so upset with circumstances. Yet the closer I get with someone, the deeper that grief can potentially be because there is expectation of them knowing me and how I tick. Oof. That can be incredibly arrogant and be incredibly true.
Okay okay okay. Now that I've taken you through the way I think through songs, you'll probably never ask for my opinion on music. Musical exegesis and hypothesis on grief were not the purposes of this blog. The purpose of this freestyle is that hope I was reminded of throughout the week.
Firstly, there is a time to weep and mourn (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Being hurt is real and God doesn't make light of our pain-He recognizes it. Grief is different for every person and God is the best counselor. I don't like mourning, I think I'm too strong for that. Yet, the Bible challenges this position and states that my strength comes from my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:10). I shouldn't immediately flee from mourning and think that I shouldn't be upset when someone is hurtful. That only stifles healing, reconciliation, and peace.
Secondly, the mission still exists even though my emotions are not in the most joyful posture (Psalm 126:5-6). God is faithful to our obedience to His mission and His work. If I go out and be faithful in the pain I will reap the harvest with joy. For there can be no harvest if there is no sowing. I can be upset, I can be hurt, and I can feel pain yet if at all possible I need to continue the work as soon as I can -- even if I am still upset, still hurt, and still feeling pain.
Thirdly, me being absolutely befuddled by life and people is not new and is not an excuse (2 Corinthians 4:7-18). The last part of this passage of scripture ties back to point number two. Paul writes, that even though he and his brethren are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down that there is still hope. While there is hope, there is a reason to press on.
Fourthly, prayer works (Matthew 18:19-20). I've had my brothers in my community group prayer for some pretty direct moves from the Lord over the past weeks and boy did He move.
Fifthly, I have to continuously challenge the idea in my head that God ought to reward me now for my faithfulness (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:19-23, Matthew 5:12). It is easy to feel like I am doing things right. Even when I screw up, I do my best to accept my shortcoming with humility. The danger is that when I treat my faith like a task or task list I expect to receive a reward. When I don't, I get impatient. I got good at masking frustration with God by continuing to tell myself the the truths the Bible has instead of challenging my mentality with the truths the Bible has.
Lastly, God loves me, He is enough, and He will always be enough (Isaiah 43:1-7). To make this complete, He loves you too friend.
A Crooked Stick