The Church is good. GOD knows they try.
But some things that echo from well-intentioned pulpits and mouths fluent in “Christian-ese” can warp some pretty heavy things into some nasty half-truths.
Let me just tell you now: WAITING SUCKS.
Anticipation of good things can be exciting and thrilling! The arrival of something good like a baby or Christmas fills one with a rush of wonder and awe, marveling at each thing along the way. I remember when Doug and I brewed beer with a kit we received as a gift. Each step filled us with a new understanding and appreciation for the craft of brewing and the end product was not perfect, but it was a culmination of joys and answered questions : What is this going to taste like? THAT’S how hops are used! Is it supposed to have this weird layer on the bottom?
Waiting for something to end, however, is different.
Particularly, waiting for suffering to end.
Sometimes we are called into periods of useful suffering. Seasons that refine us, equip us, make soft our hard hearts, and ultimately bring us into a closer relationship with GOD.
I can’t begin to relate to you how difficult the last two years have been; how many idols have fallen, things sown in tears, and how little has been reaped from hard, dry ground.
Last night, I prayed for encouragement and today I was let down again.
Some of you may be in the middle of a season like this. Where nothing seems to be going right. You feel as if you have left everything on the alter before GOD and He has flippantly cast aside what you painstakingly arranged and every sacrifice that brought you to that point. Some of you may feel the way I will admit I sometimes feel;
GOD HAS ABANDONED YOU.
It isn’t wrong to feel this way. But, it is wrong to believe it and if you do, pray that GOD would remind you why it isn’t true. It isn’t the end of the world. We live under GRACE. That means if we make a mistake, GOD forgives AND will HELP us fix it.
Often in healing, GOD calls us to remove ourselves from myriad things. He calls for a time away, with Him. Healing is supposed to bring us NEARER to GOD, so why, then, does it so often feel when we are healing that we are steadily moving AWAY from GOD?
Here is a secret: HEALING HURTS.
Another secret: JUST BECAUSE YOU HURT, IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT GOD HAS ABANDONED YOU.
One more secret: IF YOU ARE HURTING AND FEEL ALONE, IT IS OKAY TO FEEL CRAPPY.
I love The Church. There are congregations inside The Church that I could do without, but I genuinely LOVE The Church as a whole.
When it comes to seasons of wait, one frequently encounters some of the following phrases:
(Feel free to add in the comments any I may have missed)
1.You just need to rejoice in the LORD!
2.Read this scripture! [insert scripture]
3.Spend this time in WORSHIP!
4.There are blessings ahead! (I like to imagine this one as a road sign)
5.Have you ever read the poem “Footprints”?
6.I just want to encourage you to press on!
7.Don’t worry, it will be over soon!
8.You are in GOOD COMPANY!
These generally come from the most well meaning individuals who want merely to encourage you. Below, are how these phrases will go through your bitter mind and reach your aching, calloused, heart:
1.If you loved GOD more this would be easier!
2.Read this scripture! [insert scripture] Because you obviously aren’t reading your Bible enough to glean REAL comfort!
3.(Healing is an act of worship, you already are WORSHIPING but…) If you loved GOD more this would be easier!
4.GOD is withholding blessings because YOU SUCK!
6.THIS WOULD BE EASIER IF YOU LOVED GOD MORE!
7.THIS WOULD BE EASIER IF YOU LOVED GOD MORE!
8.It was easier for PEOPLE WHO LOVED GOD MORE!
Can I express in earnest how little these people are intending to hurt you? But this is what we hear:
“If waiting sucks, you’re doing it wrong.”
I have been waiting almost ten years at the feet of Jesus (and away from) to be healed. Every day I feel either intense emotional or physical pain. Someone told me, “I don’t want to call people with my problems because what if I ruin their good day?” to which I replied, “You can always call me! If I catch that kind of lightning in a bottle, I’ll tell you if you don’t have something awesome to say, hang up, because I’m having a good day.”
“Good Days” to me are just on a sliding scale that goes from really crappy to less crappy.
Has GOD abandoned me? No.
Does GOD still love me? YES. A THOUSAND TIMES YES.
Am I a bad person because sometimes I’m in so much pain I can’t pray? NO.
I know an Anglican priest who has built a ministry on healing. One of the first questions he asks of people for whom he is praying is, “Can you pray?”.
It is true that sometimes we can be so blinded by pain that we can’t even speak to GOD. That’s okay.
Currently, I’m reading the same verse over and over again because I can’t read anything else. I wrote it on a card and stuck it to the mirror in the bathroom. Am I a sinner because I’m not reading a chapter a day or in the middle of a read-the-Bible-in-a-year plan? NO. A THOUSAND TIMES NO.
Healing is hard. It will cost you more than you could have ever dreamed. I have left friends, family, home, jobs, habits, talents, and interests all in the pursuit of healing. I spend money, time, energy, patience, tears, and even blood to get better. And guess what?
I am getting better. It sucks and it hurts and I struggle to believe that it will ever ever end, but IT WILL.
I’ve said before that every believer knows what it looks like to walk away from GOD, to abandon His plan. Have you done that?
YES? : It’s okay, just start over, you’re not as far behind as you think.
NO? : Good. You may not be doing everything right, (Who is? I want to meet them, touch their clothes or something…) but you aren’t failing as miserably as it can feel. You know what to do. DO IT.
I really do pray that everyone who reads this would remember that GOD loves them, that His Son died for them, and that He will NEVER abandon you, even when you abandon Him.
WAITING SUCKS, you have permission to feel crummy, it’s not forever.
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