a few weekends ago, as some friends came together to celebrate one of our own getting engaged, i did what i always do… ask questions. usually they are random, sometimes deep. in this particular instance, it was the latter: “what has been the hardest thing about this past year and what is the best thing that has come from it?” as i listened to my dear friends answer and wondered what i would share, i was reminded that much of my last year has been shaped by difficulty. there aren’t many good things that haven’t been overshadowed by sorrow. it is as if there has been a cloud over the past few years — dark and ominous, spitting rain and lightning and thunder — never stopping to take stock of the damage already done. what was held in my one sentence answer… “pretty much everything about my last year has been hard but it’s taught me a deeper dependence on the lord,” was far more than i could verbalize without crying. it’s held uncertainty, paralyzing fear, a sense that i’m still in that place mostly.
the story of my year tells of heartbreak, heartache and heart problems. it’s been disappointing diagnoses, the death of dreams, the depth of despair. it has held the hell that a loss of hope produces. the reality is, this year has challenged my allegiance to god and belief of his promises to me more than all my other 25 years combined. the culmination of so many hard things jam-packed into one singular year means that i’ve been unable to pretend that i can have even the slightest grip of control in what happens in my life. i have doggedly chased after job leads, determinedly attempted to pull myself up by my own boot straps, decided without a doubt that i won’t be in this place even a day longer. the sum of my efforts is the truth that without god, i am and can do nothing. apart from him, i have NO GOOD THING. when times are good, this truth seems obscure, dramatic. with the circumstances i have been in and through over the last year, i can assure you that it is no cute mantra on the inside of a fortune cookie.
“though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen,
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet i will rejoice in the lord,
i will be joyful in god my savior.” (habakkuk 3:17-18)
this year it has certainly felt like there are no figs, grapes, olive, food, sheep, cattle (or their equal) in my life. i have had to fight to be joyful in the lord. i KNOW that god is for and with us. he never leaves nor forsakes us. he is for our good. he loves us, carries us. these truths have never been more real to me than over this past year. it’s been the truth countless friends have recited back to me in my darkest, most vulnerable moments. they have been the truths i hated to bear, hated to find were absolute.
i’m learning more every day to count EVERYTHING a loss compared to the SURPASSING worth of knowing Christ. if i have Him and nothing else (as it so oft seems to be), i have enough. i lack no good thing. i hope that in whatever suffering you have or will endure (as is promised), that it would do nothing less that radically transform you into one who is in constant dependence on the lord — that nary a day will go by that you don’t grapple with your need for him. this is no small prayer. may we all rest in his abundant grace today.