What do you do when the going gets tough? When the proverbial poop hits the fan, and emotions are strained from staying on high alert for days on end, and your steady spirit wanes, and the promised fountain appears to peter out? What happens when you can barely muster the energy to open your eyes—let alone crawl out of bed, suit up, and “once more into the fray…”
I haven’t deadened yet, but I’m stumbling through dark corridors. Arms in front, hands raised just in case. The wall is there somewhere, and I’d rather not meet it with my face.
I’m tired and scared.
And it’s a wacked out place to be. Think of the juxtaposition of two images. One picture is of a dimpled boy, appearing the picture of health as he sits outside with friends beneath a shade tree. And one picture is of a mom, gazing out the window at the boy as she calculates his electrolyte intake, his symptoms, amount of calories ingested that morning, and just how long she can leave him outside with his friends in the daunting summer heat of Nebraska before it begins to adversely affect him. No offense intended against those with more tender Christian sensibilities, but this sucks. Sucks. SUCKS!
Everyone suffers. The banner of Christ is no shield against the hardships of life. After all, we live together in a fallen world.
But what are my options as a believer when faced with pain or trauma or tragedy? If I believe in God and I believe in His promises, shall I dismiss James’s admonition to consider trials of every kind “pure joy” (James 1:2-4)? When faced with trouble, or distress, or persecution, or danger, or famine, or death, do I trust Paul when he promises that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39)? And dare I take faith a step further, and recognize that my suffering may feel like crap, but out of that crap good things can germinate and grow: endurance, character, hope (Romans 5:3-4).
There are days that I wail like Job, cry out like David, and doubt like Thomas. There are times that I’m bitter like Naomi, crushed like Elijah, and fearful as the eleven hidden in the inner room. And all of those responses are normal. Let me say it again, every single one of those feelings are normal responses to adverse stimuli. And, listen to this: Every single one of those people was acceptable to God—despite their less-than-stellar, not-so-spiritualgiantlike moments.
So, on days where the hot breath of fear warms my neck, or nights when tears are a constant threat, or whole seasons in which I stagger, punch-drunk with the weight of “what might be” on my shoulders—I will strive to find joy in my God as I lean into the strength of his love. And on days when I fail to get there, I’ll remember that a broken Chaka coated in crap is still acceptable to my Father in heaven.