This morning I talked to God about the state of our union, his and mine. My faith in him is constant, but my feelings are so erratic. Often, these days, I suffer from vague feelings of guilt, confusion and despair, even though I know, deep in my soul, that all is well with Him.
Why is that?
I'm not sure. But I'm holding on to the verses I feel he's drawn my attention to during this strange time of ambivalence.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him (as Lord!) and he will direct your paths.
So after I talked to God, he spoke to me, in two very specific ways:
My morning's reading in the Daily Light was about Jesus suffering in the garden. He trusted his Father completely, yet, in the garden, as he was awaiting the arrival of the soldiers who would take him to his death, he told his disciples, "My soul is deeply grieved."
He cried out for mercy from God. "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me."
God didn't grant his request. He sent an angel to strengthen the Son he loved more than life, and then he let the soldiers come.
I left my quiet time and came to the computer, where I found this blog from Open Doors, an organization that ministers to people who suffer persecution for their faith in Christ. This is a quote from a Chinese man who was imprisoned for his faith. It helped shed some light on the predicament--this strange dichotomy between trust and despair.
When we suffer for Christ, what actually happens? I mean, what really goes on spiritually within us when we are going through suffering?
I ask the question because a young sister was listening to me recently recount my experience of being in jail for three weeks last year. She said, “You talked of having constant diarrhea, of being kicked and punched painfully, and you even feared that God was punishing you…yet you talked also of feeling joy and experiencing peace.” She said to me, “I don’t understand how these things go together.”
My reply to her, and I give it also as an instruction to you all (for you will all suffer at some point for His Name), is that when we suffer, three spiritual experiences happen to us all at once: angelic strengthening, superhuman forgiveness, and human incomprehension. These three things appear contradictory, but if you suffer, you will find they come together as they did in the life of Christ.
An old Christian used to say to me, “When they lead you away to jail, tell yourself you are merely going with Christ to the Garden of Gethsemane, and to the Cross.” To the Garden, and to the Cross. I liked that. I tested it. It’s true…
"Angelic strengthening, superhuman forgiveness, and human incomprehension." I'm not suffering as this dear brother suffered, but his description of the feelings he experienced help me understand that joy and human incomprehension can co-exist.
My feelings will still come and go, but I'm honing in on the key purpose--our purpose in our walk with him. It's just to trust. To grow in our trust. He doesn't ask us to understand. He doesn't ask us to know the right path to take. All we have to do is trust and he will arrange the rest.