I have been trying to write this post for a month now. And every time that I’ve sat down to finally finish this thing, I only get through about a paragraph. I credited it to lack of inspiration, or that I needed to do something else more important. But then I realized that no, I’m just afraid to put my mess into the world. I was afraid of portraying myself as hypocritical and naive, when really, in this post, I’ll just be portraying myself as human. A human that is in desperate need of a savior.
This post is about my year. Twenty-sixteen has been a hell of a ride with extremes on all spectrums. I felt extreme joy and extreme sadness, a whole lot of extreme confusion and mostly a whole lot of extreme love (even if it didn’t feel like what I thought love should feel like.) I know that a lot of people, at least in my life, have had kind of a sucky year as well. With the election, the current events, and (within my circles), plenty of financial and relational difficulty, twenty-sixteen just hasn’t lived up to its expectations.
Personally, I had quite a few opportunities to do some awesome things. I got to go to Tijuana, where I met God in his miraculous joy. I went to the 18InchJourney, where I met God in his pursuant joy, I worked at a day camp where I couldn’t escape God in his gleeful joy if I tried, and then in October, when I was able to see the love of my life after a long separation, and I met God in his merciful joy. Those have been the highlights, and those have been wonderful times. I learned an incredible amount this year. A large part of that being how little I really know.
So, throughout and around these wonderful events of joy, I experienced a lot of heartache. Some of it caused by my own mistakes and naivety, some seemed to come just blow by blow. Sickness, hurt, bitterness, and canceled dreams showed up around every turn. By the end of the year I just became tired. There are still many good things in my life. My family is still in tact and in love. Though I’ve lost some friends, the people who are really important in my life became closer. And I am able to do nothing but lean on God. He is my refuge and my strength. It took a long time to learn that, and I’ll probably be learning that for the rest of my life.
Ultimately, the emotion I felt the most would be confusion. For the first time, I asked God why he would let things like this happen. Why would he let sickness gain control and heartache take over? There was a while where I believed that he ordered our every situation. As my parents discussed in church this morning, they used to believe that if their child ran into the street and was hit by a vehicle and killed, that was a part of God’s plan. As if God played us like puppets and we had to learn how to love our master. But that can’t be. Yes, God is sovereign. Yes, God is in control. He is our creator and our father and He protects us from what will destroy us. But he does not cause circumstances. He never decided that sickness, financial strain, or heartbreak was a good idea. What kind of parent would inflict pain on their child? A tyrant. Our God is a good, good father. And he is love, he is joy, he is peace. The evil and hurt and wrong things that happen in our fallen world were caused by distrust and an idea that maybe he doesn’t love us as much as he says he does. Of course, this isn’t true, but when you believe it and operate from a place of distrust, you will do hurtful things to yourself in others in attempt to protect your own heart. Our world is fallen and sickness, accidents, and untruth lives but doesn’t prevail. He prevails as king and lord.
Its not a question of power either. He has the power to make time stand still, defy physics, and change hearts. But he has graciously and lovingly given us the gift of free will. He won’t ever break that. Our will is ours and ours alone. And its when we choose to love him back that we flourish and can be at peace with where we are. Being at peace with where we are in our life is a side-effect of knowing you’re loved. Its an act of trust.
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
There is a lot left I have to say. So far, this is more of a set up for the point I’m trying to make. So I’ll make another part to this. But for now, read the above scripture from John 16 (starting on verse 13) and try to see how Jesus is pleading you to ask of him. Ask for help. Ask for joy. Ask for him. It his desire and his delight to give it to you.