Friday, January 13, 2017

Faith Doesn't Mean You're Fine


    So, I know for a few people who are close to me that the things that I said about 2017 not necessarily being the antidote to the woes of 2016 has proven true in some really awful ways. We are only a couple of weeks into the first month of the new year and yet so many things have already gone so wrong. The things that have happened will for certain leave this year etched in their memories and it isn't even 5% of the way over yet, so there are still plenty of opportunities for the other 95% to hold its fair share of unexpected, sometimes life-changing, and very possible negative, events.

     Personally, our family is still dealing with the aftermath of things that happened in 2016 and didn't magically disappear when the clock struck midnight on January 1st. My husband was seriously injured at work and can't really begin to heal or even recover until he has extensive knee surgery. Which still isn't scheduled, even though he was injured in November. We are just waiting while he lives every day in pain. And it is so hard. We don't know when he will be able to return to work, or if the promised recovery period will be as arduous as we have been told. We are on "hold"-not knowing what the next few months will bring.

   And it is seems like the right thing to say is that we are okay. We believe that the Lord holds the future, that He hasn't overlooked any of these things that have completely turned our every day routines on their heads and cut up our future plans to ribbons. We know He has a plan, and better yet, a purpose.

  But it still hurts. Some days, fear or worry, or both, rob us of sleep. We get up in the morning not knowing what the day holds, trying to convince ourselves things will get better, holding our breath without daring to think that they might possibly get worse. That maybe the events that have crushed us yesterday, last week, last month, will be something that we would gladly suffer again in order to avoid the devastation that lies just out of sight. Because, as my dear husband loves to say, "the only easy day was yesterday".

    So where does the hope come in? What good does faith do in these circumstances? Aren't we supposed to "grin and bear it"? When "sorrows like sea billows roll", aren't we supposed to say, "it is well with my soul"?  Doesn't it seem that our response should be, when hearing of our troubles well-meaning friends inquire as to our well-being, that we are, "fine"? Just, fine, thank you. And be sure to follow up with the certainty that this is the Lord's will, that we are confident that better days lie just ahead? We are fine, just fine. But is that really what faith requires of us? To profess, in the worst of times that we are "fine"?

     "Be gracious to me, Lord,

because I am in distress;
my eyes are worn out from angry sorrow
my whole being as well. 
Indeed, my life is consumed with grief
and my years with groaning;
my strength has failed
because of my sinfulness,
and my bones waste away." 

Psalm 31:8-9 HCSB
 And it wasn't just David...

"Why did I come out of the womb

to see only struggle and sorrow,
to end my life in shame?"

Jeremiah 20:18 HCSB

Figuring this is just an Old Testament condition? How about Paul?

"I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience is testifying to me with the Holy Spirit that I have intense sorrow and continual anguish in my heart." Romans 9:1-2 HCSB

What? Faith doesn't mean that you're fine? Nope. Sometimes, life is just hard. And the Lord doesn't expect us to paste on a smile when crappy things happen and pretend that we don't care, that we aren't shaken, that we are immune to the sorrows of this broken, fallen world. See, in saying that we shouldn't wallow in our grief, which is true, that we shouldn't mourn as those that have no hope, which is also true, we have somehow translated those things to mean that we can't stop for two seconds and say, "This is hard. I don't want to do this! I am not sure what to do. " That we can't shed tears of anger, or sorrow, or just being profoundly overwhelmed.

  Life is hard. Sin is real and it means that bad things will happen-both to good people and bad people. That sometimes we will bring difficult consequences down on ourselves, but sometimes we will truly be the victim of troubles that we had no hand in creating. And it is okay to not be okay with that.

  Just because we have eternal hope in Jesus doesn't mean we must pretend that we live on a different planet when the world is falling apart. As a believer I DO have faith that God is working, even in the most awful of times. But it doesn't mean that I can never say that something is hard.

    The difference is, that I know the One who wants to hear my complaints, the One who wants to bear my burdens, the One who wants to ease my sorrows. And in the midst of my hard times, I can say,

"I must tell Jesus all of my trials,
I cannot bear these burdens alone;
In my distress He kindly will help me,
He ever loves and cares for His own.

  • I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
    I cannot bear my burdens alone;
    I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
    Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.
  • Tempted and tried I need a great Savior,
    One who can help my burdens to bear;
    I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus:
    He all my cares and sorrows will share." -Elisha Hoffman
  •   So, feel free to stop saying you are fine when your dreams are burning to ashes. The Lord doesn't ask you to say that you're okay when you couldn't possibly be. He just asks that we remember that He is always there, that He loves us more than we could possibly fathom, and that He will make a way-though the reality is that it may take far longer than we want, and there may be more tragedies than triumphs as you go.
  • "Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,

        who daily bears our burdens.
    Our God is a God who saves;
        from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death." Psalm 68:19-20 NIV
  • The escape from death may not come this side of heaven, but we are promised eternal life through Christ. So even though your faith doesn't necessarily mean you are fine, it does mean you have a future. And it is pretty darn glorious...

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