When I don’t know what to say and I can’t understand why God is allowing or isn’t allowing things, it’s a knee jerk sort of response to turn it on myself for a minute. Do I, or do I not deserve this? Have I not done enough right things? Have I done too many wrong things? Do I deserve reward or punishment? Too many of us wonder this when tires blow out or things fail. Me. What could I have done? How do I measure up?
But speaking the gospel into the broken places of my life means turning the focus from me to Jesus. It’s asking myself, how is Jesus already better than what I want? How am I not allowing Jesus to meet all of my needs? Do I have to have this, or is Jesus more than sufficient in what He’s already done for me and is doing in and through me? How does the presence of this hardship only magnify Him and minimize me and my felt need?
Ever wonder what type of person you’d be like if you never faced any pain or hardship? If we always got what we thought we needed? Probably not a person who loves, gives or is grateful very much.
The last two months have been an emotional roller coaster for our family. Twice something we have been pleading with God for for years was given and then quickly taken away. It seems to be a no brainer- of course this is good and what God would want, it would increase so many God glorifying things in our lives. It’s something I think we need, and dare I say I think I even deserve. In the last few weeks, I’ve just been waiting. Waiting for the next little step leading to what will finally remedy many problems, then we’d receive it, and today it was taken back again. And so we continue to wait.
In the waiting and in the absence of what I thought I needed, today I was struck with the greatness of Jesus in my lack. It was like standing in an empty room with a giant gift I hadn’t given enough attention to in the moments before the shock wave hit. I expected to be rejoicing over a new blessing, but in the void- He was the only thing that remained, True and Better. I get to see Jesus and his sustaining power stay brighter in this waiting even longer. I get to be grateful for the many, many things we do have, and larger problems we don’t have to deal with right now. I get to continue to steward well what He has given and called me to, even though it’s not easy.
The good news is, that in Jesus I can rest knowing that life is not a game of weighing out the good and the bad in my life, hoping God might reward the good I do or the right beliefs I hold or my earnest faith- or punish the lack thereof- I’m so thankful God doesn’t work like a smug behavior police officer, ticketing people in the game of try-harder religion. “Do not pass go, do not collect $200.” NO!
God doesn’t love or value certain people because of their better beliefs or better behaviors, He loves us and blesses us because of Jesus. God is pleased with me because of what Jesus did on my behalf, there’s nothing I can do to add or take away from that. He is the biggest gift that I could ever behold- who He is, what He has done for me, and who I am now that I’m in Him. I can rest in that, and He gives peace and strength in the waiting’s and the not understandings of life. I’ve never been disappointed in His plan, and so I trust Him, even if I never get to understand, I get to have Him.
I’m so thankful for the gift of faith; it’s certainly nothing I can conjure up or maintain, because my faith is not in myself or things, it’s in Jesus, and it’s a gift from God. My job is to continually receive his gift of grace through repentance and faith, turning away from myself, towards Jesus, and resting in his finished work for me on the cross. He is the greatest gift. We certainly aren’t promised an easy life, and I wonder what sort of people we’d be if we got that, anyway.
Hope my process encourages someone tonight. I know I’m not alone in the waiting.