I’m currently wading in the most difficult season of my life. Waves the size of all my hopes, dreams, and fears threaten to drown me everyday. Every day, I am reminded of the safety in not trying and in the predictable comfort of a life that requires no lifeguard’s watch, no fear, and little excitement. Sometimes, I think it might have been better if I had chosen a safer path, something that required less of me. I could have stood on the shoreline and looked out at the people who dared to swim. After all, it’s pretty hard to drown when you’re standing on the sand.
If you have never dealt with depression this analogy may sound pretty dramatic, but it really can be that overwhelming. If you are someone who struggles to keep her head above water, I urge you to keep reading and let’s swim together.
I’ve spent a considerable amount of time over the years waiting for the next phase of my life. I couldn’t wait to be out of high school… I couldn’t wait to move out of this freshman dorm… I couldn’t wait to have a job I like… I couldn’t wait to live on my own… I can’t wait to be married… I can’t wait to have children… I can’t wait for a promotion… I’m sure you relate. If we aren’t careful, we waste our limited time on earth willing today to be tomorrow. The tomorrow we create in our minds, however, isn’t real and will never exist.
Dreaming isn’t bad and neither is waiting or longing. We were created with the God-like ability to imagine and create, to bring things into existence that weren’t there before. We were made by, like, and for the Lord who is the creator. He thought of everything good and beautiful and spoke it into being. Ann Voskamp puts it this way, “You are made of the dust of this earth, and you are made of the happiness of heaven. You are flesh, and you are spirit. You are of two worlds longing for the home of forever and Him.” Of course we long, dream, and wait for something else! We are made for perfect union and harmony with God – and yet we live in a fallen world.
We should be waiting, but let’s make sure we are waiting for the right thing.
When we wait for the Lord, we will not be disappointed. When we wait for what the Lord has promised us through the scriptures we will not be put to shame. If what you are longing for is perfect love or justice, you are not alone. The Lord waits patiently for wrongs to be righted, for love to reign over selfishness and hate, and for us all to see Him, this world, each other, and ourselves the way He does (Revelations 22:1-5, Revelations 21:3-5, Ezekiel 28:24, 2 Peter 3:9). We can wait for these things with full assurance that they are close to the heart of our Father, and that He Himself will be the one to bring them about.
There is a wearing away that occurs when we face disappointment after disappointment, longing after longing. Just like crashing waves beating against a rock face slowly expand the territory of the ocean, the heartbreaks we face erode the walls of our hearts if we let them. When CS Lewis’ wife died, he wrote, “Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’”
I too am tempted to believe some terrible things about the Lord. When I judge Him through the lens of my own life, my experiences, my feelings, my knowledge, my pain… He often comes up short. He doesn’t seem loving to me. He doesn’t seem kind or benevolent. He doesn’t seem…good. This is hard to say out loud, but it is true. If He isn’t good then this way of life, this relationship, and this religion fall apart. But the Lord is good. I could write another 5,000 words about His goodness and do it little justice, but let me say this: Jesus Christ was and was with God before the world began, He spoke it into existence, He made man whom He loved greatly, and when that man turned on Him, He didn’t follow suit and leave the man to suffer. He became a man Himself, and “for the joy that was set before Him” died a humiliating and torturous death so that we would never know true death. (Hebrews 12:2b) He loves us, and He is the very definition of good.
Solomon warns us in Proverbs 3:5 not to lean on our own understanding because he knew the truth about the world and about us. We only see in part and most of what we see is darkened by the shadow of a fallen world.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
Let us be willing to admit that we don’t often have the understanding or perspective to understand why He does what he does, but we know He is still good. It is easier to look at the world and think that the Lord doesn’t care, but the truth is, we serve a Lord, Friend, and Father who knows exactly what He is doing and would rather die than to live without us. Let us be women who are humble enough to choose to believe the truth about the Lord.
The point of this blog is not to encourage you to sweep your broken hearts under the rug. It isn’t to minimize your pain or what hurts you face. God grieves with and is near the brokenhearted. He tells us to “cast all our anxieties on Him because He cares for us”. The goal isn’t to dismiss our heartbreak, but to see past it to purpose. Once we accept that God is good even in our pain, then we can accept that there may be a good reason for it.
“Count it all joy, my brothers (or sisters), when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
“Occasionally, weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life you have.” These wise words from John Piper register with me on every level. This past year has been a testimony to the fact that the world is a dark place and a good weeping is often called for. But this is not the end of our story, friends. We have an eternity in front of us, and we won’t spend that time wishing that things were different on earth. There will be no pain, no regret, no broken hearts, and no waiting. Let us live in that truth.