A friend shared this on facebook (thanks Connie!): from my In Touch devotional: ‘God’s primary goal is our ultimate good, not our comfort or short-term happiness–He wants what is best for us in light of eternity. At times this means He’ll lay us flat on our backs for a season.’
Whatever it may be, I’m sure we’ve all had such a season. Sometimes it is something as obvious as illness, even a simple virus that can knock everything out of us and force us to slow down and rest (or some of us moms might relate to such a season when we think of pregnancy). Dave’s uncle, whose life was changed after he had a heart attack, says that he is now so grateful for everything–even the hard things–that come his way. He specifically mentioned sickness to me and said he now looks at it as an opportunity to rest and spend more time reading the Word. How often do we look at life’s “setbacks” or “knockouts” in such way? I confess that I rarely do. I usually just feel defeated and discouraged.
I think I might be in for a “flat on my back season”, but I know that I am not alone. Those few of you who are currently reading this probably know that I’ve been struggling the last few weeks with not feeling well and feeling a bit depressed. To be honest, day to day or even hour to hour can be a struggle…..one minute I’m feeling fine and then the next minute I can hardly muster up the motivation or energy to do anything. Yet in the midst of feeling lost, angry, or feeling nearly nothing, I am reminded that I am not alone in my struggles.
At the end of some of my most difficult days, God lays the pain of someone else at the doorstep of my heart. I don’t think He does that to burden me, but I also don’t think He does that to make me buck up…you know, the unsympathetic word of “Someone else has it harder than you.” I believe He does it to remind me that I am not alone. Because, honestly, in those most bleak moments, I feel so very, very alone! Henri Nouwen, one of my most beloved and favorite authors, speaks to this very thing……in most of Nouwen’s work, you’ll see the theme of God’s intention for us to share our pain and suffering with one another, not for bearing it alone.
And yet that is exactly what I do–try to bear it alone! Why am I so ashamed to admit that I’m flat on my back–knocked out by pain, sadness, fear, or lack of energy? Why am I afraid to be the voice that tells someone else, “I am hurting right now, too”? I feel like Dave and I have been faced with a fair amount of challenges and struggles over the last four months and yet somehow I feel like such a failure confessing that whatever God is walking us through, whatever He is allowing us to be refined by…..HURTS. It’s HARD. Not that I should ever forget Paul’s exhortation to “Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS!” We need to be reminded and encouraged to do this, so needy are we (and the Philippians that he was writing to) that he says it again, “I will say it again: Rejoice!” Paul knew it was hard and that we needed to be encouraged to do exactly what we felt we couldn’t do: rejoice!
In light of eternity, these struggles are light and momentary, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians. In regards to troubles or obstacles or challenges, I think Paul was pretty well informed in these areas. I love that we are offered perspective….2 Corinthians 4:17 says specifically, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” What burdens me and is painful today is exactly what God knows will be best for me in light of eternity.
And with that, consider me flat on my back, obediently trusting the eternal worth of it all!