We had an awful weekend. It discouraged us. Sometimes it just feels as if life is a series of struggle and heartbreak, and we get weary. I asked God for encouragement, and it came, and my spirit was strengthened.
Not long ago, a friend on a forum shared a difficult situation he was going through, and I told him what I learned through a similar situation in an attempt to encourage and help him. After hearing his story, I thought, “Wow, next to his suffering, I’ve hardly suffered at all.” Then he wrote that after hearing my story, he felt that next to my suffering, he had hardly suffered at all. We laughed about that.
Yesterday I went with EJ to the doctor. She ordered him an MRI and more blood work (which we will get done today). She gave him exercises to do for his back, and prescribed more pain medication and something to help him sleep. EJ asked her about going on disability, which many people have encouraged him to look into. It took him a long time to even consider going on disability because he wants to be able to work, not be an invalid. The doctor said that since EJ hasn’t yet had back surgery, etc., it would be probably be difficult for him to get disability, and then he might not get the full amount, so we’d struggle financially–and it might work against him if he sought work in the future.
A lot of Christians say that Christians should always be joyful, and I also believe that Christians experience increasing joy. However, I think some believe “joy” means “paint an artificial smile on my face and pretend everything is ok, even though my life is falling apart and my heart is breaking.” I don’t think it means this, and neither do I think it’s always a bouncy, trouncy, Tigger type of joy. I think there are times of bright and dancing joy, but I think it’s usually more of an authentic deepness, a settled foundation, so that even when life is difficult and our hearts are breaking, there’s a light in the darkness, hope in despair, a knowing that we are always loved and never abandoned by God sort of joy. It’s like a line in a children’s song: “Real joy is mine, even if the teardrops start.”
About ten years ago or so, a 40-something year old man in our church got cancer. He had wife who loved him and two children. SS was well-liked in the church. Many people desperately prayed for his healing–individually and in Sunday school classes, small groups, prayer meetings, and 24-hour prayer vigils were held for him. Despite all this prayer, the cancer continued to ravage this him. One guy, a close friend of this SS, used to visit Sunday school classes and passionately plead with people to pray for him. He declared that SS wasn’t healed because people didn’t have enough faith. He said that the prayer, “God’s will be done” was a cop-out, prayed by people with weak faith. (Please don’t judge this man too harshly, he was feeling grief over his friend’s illness, and struggling with his own faith.) In just a few months, SS succumbed to his illness and died.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I used to try to trust God for my WHOLE life, all at once. I’d think of various trials and sufferings and “what ifs,” such as “What is JJ got killed? How would I survive?” Or “What if EJ lost his job?” Or “What if I got cancer?” You know, that sort of thing. I didn’t know if my faith would be strong enough to survive those terrible things. But gradually God taught me that I don’t really need to worry about trusting Him for my WHOLE life, I just have to trust Him through NOW. No matter how bad or scary circumstances got, I could always manage to trust Him for today. And if today is too long a time, I can trust Him for the next hour. And if I can’t manage to trust Him for an hour, I can trust Him for the next five minutes. If five minutes is too long, I can trust Him for THIS MOMENT. If I trust Him this moment, and this moment, and this moment, soon I will be trusting Him for five minutes, and an hour, and a day, and a life-time. Because that’s all life is: a series of moments and steps.
Several summers ago I began to walk longer and longer distances with my dogs. I started out walking one mile, then two mile, then five…At that point, my husband said, “See how far you can walk. Walk as far as you can and I will pick you up when you get tired.” So I walked to my church (at the time) which was 9.1 miles from home, and then I walked to the next town which was about 10 miles, and then I walked 6 miles out and turned around and walked home, for a total of 12 miles.