Life is deep. And sometimes we get lost in the darkness of these depths. Every so often, I find myself feeling life so deeply, I don’t know what to do. Yesterday was another one of those days.
From discovering the return of Baba’s tumor just a week post-removal, to leading the food meeting at work, to being stretched thin from too little sleep, to the exhaustion of time going by too quickly, to heavy conversations and equally heavy burdens, to sorrow, thousands of ‘what if’s?’, glistening eyes, far too many words, and leaving in just four short days and one night. Ufda.
And how does one even pray with all that going on? Honestly, I still don’t know. All I know is that Jesus is fully present whether I am or not. Also, he is still sympathetic, loving, trustworthy, faithful, and gentle even when my present situation tells me otherwise. Even when the suffocation is so tight, I can’t breathe; the darkness is so thick, I can’t see; and the space is so constricting, I need to run—Jesus is still there.
Yesterday evening, we prayer walked the neighborhoods surrounding the park for our community event this weekend. The darkness in my own soul coupled with the depression in the streets was nearly unbearable. The devil wants these people and he is not going to let them come to Jesus without a fight. He delights in keeping souls in bondage to addiction, abuse, and demonic oppression. He laughs when people try to end their lives or others’ lives, and he fairly dances when people continue to choose him over Jesus. Every time.
He holds a massive hand over their eyes to keep them from seeing the blazing beauty of our reigning King Jesus. He plugs their ears with the noises of fear, anger, shame, and regret; and reminds them that they are his. And he cackles when they can’t hear the tender voice of Jesus calling to them. Then he proceeds to yank their chains so they remember who owns them. And these people are so weary, sick, and depressed in their spirits, they are unable to even feel the gentle hands of Jesus drawing them to himself.
We walked into this darkness and plunged forward into the woods of harsh voices, drowning music, and long shadows. House upon house all but cried out from the pain that has happened behind their painted walls and shuttered windows.
There were far too many words, too loud of voices, too many stories…I needed to run, to just escape the madness in my head.
But I didn’t. I just prayed like crazy.
I looked at all the beautiful faces of my team members and wondered if I would see them after Saturday. Conversations flowed like water. Ice bumped the edge of cups. Arms around each other. Prayers and blessings from Pastor Kaleb that reached to the soul’s depths. A train. More words. Sand and concrete. Fields of grass. Wild flowers. Water’s edge. Depths of sorrow in hearts. Questions. Fear. Pain. Masks.
Once home, whispered and written words to Father God in my journal led to reading Philippians 1.
– Verse 2: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
It is rather like a greeting in the form of blessing—may Father God and Jesus Christ give you their grace and peace. Beauty right there. And a sunburst of hope.
– Verse 6: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
God always finishes what he starts. Completely. There are no projects that are left as an “incomplete” because he ran out of resources or patience. Even when everything else around us tells us that God is finished with us, he isn’t. He will finish the good works he has begun in us—completely and perfectly.
– Verse 29: “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.”
No matter how we feel at the end of the night, it is an honor to suffer and sorrow because of and for Jesus. It is not for us to wallow in the pain and questions, but rather to endure hardships “as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3), recognizing that these present trials “are not even worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:8).
Someday, we will finally see Jesus and he will be more than worth it. While we love and treasure him now, we will love him far more then. We will know him to the depths of our souls, even as he fully knows us now (1 Cor. 13:12).
It is a comforting thing to know that not only are we deeply known by God, but we are also deeply loved. Nothing will ever be able to separate us from his great love for us. On those days we feel life far too deeply for comfort, it is reassuring to know that Jesus stretches out his hands over the overwhelming waves of our circumstances and says, “Peace. Be still. Take heart, I have overcome the world.”