I turned thirty this week. For me, birthdays come with an increase in introspection, but this birthday came unexpectedly with some grief. This year, rather than rejoicing over another year and a new decade of life, my thoughts swam with I-wish-I-could-have's and I-thought-by-now-I-would-have's. I thought by now we would have a family, my arms filled with littles. I wish I could be living overseas. I'd hoped we could settle and buy a house. I thought by now we'd have a little more figured out.
This rhythm of hope and grief, hope and grief, hope and grief... it is growing a callous of trust in my heart. The skin is getting thicker. My spiritual muscles toughen as again I am invited to hope, again I am invited to lament, again I am invited to trust God more this month than I did last month.
I didn't intend to take the whole summer off of writing, but that's what happened. This summer has been filled with change (both good and bad). God has been doing so much lately, and it hasn't all been easy. He has been changing plans and pausing dreams, revealing idols and misplaced identities, asking for surrender and deeper trust. But for some reason, even though so much has been happening, month after month, I have found myself without words.
Someone asked me yesterday if I had any resolutions for the new year. I hesitated a bit before I told them "no." But, I told them, it’s not because I haven’t thought about it.
You know that feeling when something so deeply resonates and you feel this unexplainable sense of rightness? That deep deep conviction that God is real and true and good and faithful. And sometimes you can't even tell if that deep conviction is your own or if it's the faith of the people around you upholding yours. All I can think to describe it is the deep encouragement and sustaining of faith that comes from community. And it is beautiful.
It seems that it is more difficult for me to praise God when I don’t have an abundance of good things happening in my life. My mind does not often go to thanksgiving when I don’t see all those little (and big) things to be thankful for.
...We are therefore able to have immense joy in the time of suffering because Christ Himself is our present joy and our future hope.
Let us not be thankless and praiseless because we are in a season of sorrow or trial.
Instead, may our pain and loss bring praise to our lips as we are reminded that our Savior is our only true comfort and our only true rest.
What do you do when you so heavily feel the weight of the brokenness of the world bearing down on you? When you are so overwhelmed with the pain caused by sin that you feel suffocated? When your heart aches with the hurt and grief of the people around you?
How do you let it more deeply root yourself in the goodness and love and sovereignty of the Lord?
To be honest, this has been one of the hardest semesters of my life.
I've been overwhelmed at times with loneliness, confusion, fear, insecurity, and inadequacy. I've had quite a few moments where I've doubted everything.
So many negative thoughts have plagued my mind:
“What in the world are you doing?”
“You aren't smart enough for seminary.”
“How do you expect this all to work out?”
Hope is not just faith for today…it is faith for every single day on earth until our hope becomes a reality at the coming of Christ. It is faith in the future tense. True, life-giving hope brings us a deep sense of joy. Even through the darkness and struggles we know that the victory has already been won and we will not be overcome if we hold fast to our hope in Christ.
So now, instead of just feeling excitement when I drive through those amazing fall-colored tree tunnels on the winding back roads or cuddle up in a super soft blanket, I see an opportunity to practice eucharisteo.
It's opened my mind and my heart to a whole new depth of joy.
One week ago a tornado tore through the city of Tuscaloosa, and many other cities in the southeast. It flattened buildings, it tore roofs off of houses, it took the lives of friends and loved ones, it completely devastated the city and the lives of thousands of people.
But the tornado also did something else...