Work was a long slog. I trudged out to my car in grimy scrubs, thankful the day was over. Fished my keys out of my fanny pack, clicked the button, slid into the tiny black oven on wheels (welcome to summer). Started the ignition, reversed, then drove until city turns to country turns to driveway.
I’d spent the night before crying and pounding on the door of heaven. I feel like I’ve spent a lifetime crying, even though I really haven’t. It hasn’t been that bad. I have my health, my family, a roof over my head. Lots of material for thanksgiving, yet somehow I usually find myself head down in sorrow when no one is looking.
After over two decades of being inundated with good theology, I find myself at a loss for how to suffer and still believe. I’ve asked myself many times, “Why is believing so hard? Why must trusting God be such a battle for me while so many other Christians walk around chirping sermon quotes and Bible verses?”
As a Christian, I have one primary job in life: Trust God. Do what’s next.
I’m tremendously bad at it.
What I do know and am thankful for:
- These trials have exposed just how sinful I really am. I’ve realized in the last seven years how quick I am to turn to idols and not the living and true God. I’ve heard it said that the sinfulness of sin is that it’s believing that it will satisfy you more than God, and that is exactly what I’ve found. Running after broken cisterns (Jeremiah 2:13) brings only more emptiness.
- It has shown me how desperately I need God to take the first step toward me, both in regards to my initial salvation and every day, every hour after that. Heck, I need him to carry me because in my own strength I’ve got nothing.
- It has made the gospel even more precious to me. Without it, there is no hope or purpose to living.
- The only love I can or should stake my hope on is God’s. At the cross I can lay down my foolishly high opinion of myself, exchange it for the truth that I’m a sinful wretch undeserving of affection of any kind… and then find a heavenly Father’s incomprehensible love, which sees me exactly as I am yet still chose to save me, at great cost to himself, when I was dead in sin so that I could be his child. When I fully embrace that, the losses become small details on the horizon. I can lose my friends, my family, my health, even my life, but there is absolutely nothing that can separate me the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:38-39).
I rolled the windows down that day, driving home. I watched the green rolling hills, felt the breeze possess my hair and the sunshine warm my arm.
No, this isn’t Home. If the purpose in all this was to get my eyes off this world and its empty promises, it’s slowly working. Maybe the hard things were to make me mean the words, “thy kingdom come”. Maybe they happened to make me long for eternity in heaven, where everything sad will come untrue and I’ll fall at my Father’s feet in worship.
Today isn’t what I would have chosen. Yet it was given to me by the Giver of good and perfect gifts (James 1:17). I don’t understand the gifts, but I know their Giver. He’s good. It would stand to reason that there is a goodness in the gift too.
Might as well crank the music and enjoy the scenery.
My mom and Elisabeth Elliot have each been instrumental in engraining the “trust God and do the next thing” mentality into my brain. They’ve each served me well by living this out, whether that’s via books or in real time. I hope and pray that I’ll grow to be as faithful and fearless as they have been.
N.D. Wilson’s nonfiction books, Death by Living and Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl, both somewhat revolve around this topic. They’re stellar– Death by Living is quite possibly my favorite book of all time, and I can only aspire to write as well as its author. Those books have made me think, laugh, and fall in love with the world and the God who made it. Worth every penny.