I’ve been astounded recently at the sheer rockiness of life.
It’s incredible to me how fast things change. It’s unbelievable how scary and wild and unstable the world feels- leaving us pinging and sliding around in it like a pinball in a machine.
We’re deep in a moment, perfectly content in our ‘okay-ness’ when all of a sudden something changes. Something shakes the ground, leaving us sliding and grasping for something to hold onto- completely incapable of maintaining the balance that had us feeling so secure.
And the worst part is when we see it coming.
Like the perfect storm, swirling and crashing towards the shore, we see the damage looming. We see the feelings building that are so much more than friendly- we see the heartbreak on the horizon- we see ourselves slipping out of control of our thoughts and our hearts and the way we respond to the world around us.
And in response, we brace ourselves.
We pray stiff, desperate prayers begging God to protect us- begging him to take away those thoughts, those feelings, or the awful reality that we may end up walking out of this thing so much more broken than we went in.
This week, we’ve gotten to see the most striking and horrendous physical example of the shakiness of our world.
We watched helplessly as a storm, huge and perfect and horrible, approached our homes.
And all we could do was sit and wait.
We couldn’t stop it- we could only prepare so much- and then we just had to pray and watch it happen.
And that’s the way that so many things in life feel.
We watch intimacy grow – watching our hearts slip past the place where we can keep it safely locked up. Watching destruction swirl towards our lives and our homes, we begin to understand that we’re just not going to come out of this unscathed.
So many times in my life I’ve prayed these kinds of prayers-
“God, your will be done!” or “God, if this isn’t your will, take it away!”
-thinking that maybe if I pray hard enough, God will just Hoover the fear and uncertainty and potential for hurt away from me. But it’s just never worked.
And sometimes the ‘your will be done’ prayer doesn’t turn out the way I was hoping it would.
Sometimes I think we trick ourselves into thinking that those words are the foolproof way to ensure that we get our way. It becomes this ‘catch all’ to go after our real request… an insurance policy to point back to when our prayers don’t come out the way we wanted them to.
We say, “God, I’m going to go ahead with this, but your will be done.” And then we’re surprised when we lose the job or when that relationship ends. We’re surprised when He actually takes the control and sovereignty we surrender to Him.
We’re surprised when He exercises His fatherly control, but even more surprised when that doesn’t come with a complete removal of all hurt and fear.
Last night I was at a Bible study with some pretty spectacular women.
As 20 of us crowded into this perfect little apartment, we began to talk about the giants in our lives- the giants that loom above us, tall, blocking out the sun. We began drawing out the problems that we beg God to take away from us- the hurts that we try to avoid and then our leader Caroline pointed out something that changed everything.
Maybe God allows giants in our lives so that we can be filled with whatever it’s going to take to defeat them.
When little David faced and defeated the giant Goliath, he was filled with courage and total confidence in the power of his God- and it was those things that enabled him to be a mighty leader for the kingdom.
As weird as it is to say- and as hard as it is to swallow- maybe those giants are in our lives for a reason.
I’m not saying that God wants us to hurt or that He delights in watching us cry with searing confused hearts.
But rather, that God wants to replace those hurts and that confusion with something new.
Instead of taking away our insecurity, He wants us to be filled with an unshakable confidence of who we are because of whose we are.
Instead of just taking away our pain, He wants to replace it with a much deeper healing- more than a Band-Aid or a Hoover could ever hope to accomplish.
There are so many things to be afraid of in this life. Storms swirl towards us, destructive and menacing, wrecking the things that are most precious to us- and that’s true and that’s real. It’s part of living in a fallen world- a place where people are hurt and where weather isn’t always kind. And that is something to grieve and grieve deeply.
But as we’re still living in such imperfection- a world full of storms and hurt and feelings that betray us- I want us to pray for eyes to see past the giant.
Because when we do- we can see the hurt and pain and fear that God wants to replace with love and hope and joy. And we can begin to allow those giants to help us into the things we need to lead the Kingdom.
Today, I’m praying for tender hearts and for the giants and for the storms- and praying that God will replace pain with healing, brokenness with wholeness and despair with pure, sweet joy.
Let this scripture soothe your soul. Let God’s Word soak into your heart- reminding you of who He is, and what He’s doing in even your messiest circumstances. Look for the things He’s replacing- and what He’s replacing them with.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.
Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.
Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.
“For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”
I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.”