Things have been, well, hard.
Yesterday I texted a friend, which forced me to put it into words, "I feel hard hit on every side." Which reminded me of another place I heard those words, "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." Paul writes this to the Corinthian church normalizing their experience. But he doesn't stop there (the gospel never stops there) rather he offers kingdom perspective.
Do you hear the H O P E in Paul's words?
6For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"[a]made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken."[b]With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
He's letting us know, "Yes, yes, this IS kingdom life. Not easy, the same 'life' experiences everyone else has...BUT Jesus, his life, his good news, his hope, his vision, his presence, THAT, that carries you through. His life will come...do you believe?"
And you know what? In times like this I'm not sure I really do.
Two years ago when I said "Yes Lord" to leaving full-time ministry, my home, community, and life as I knew it in Orange County, I had NO IDEA what i was signing up for? I knew a couple things: 1) I needed to know what it was like to work and get paid a wage and 2) to see if "Susie full time minister" was the same as "Susie, on her own with no one telling her what to think and believe" would be one and the same.
And that's about all I knew. I got a job with Starbucks, moved to SLO, and became a nanny "until a full time job emerged."
And then a year and a half into it the unexpected happened, not a job, rather an injury.
At 6am Thanksgiving morning I turned in bed and WHAM, my back went out. Excruciating pain and discomfort followed.
A long story short I went on disability for a month, resigned from nannying, and entered 2010 going, "WHAT?"
What just happened? What now?
Nannying made things work here?
No nannying=just getting by $
I could go on but that's not the point, it's just the backdrop.
In the midst of it all (and on my good days) I see God fighting for something beautiful in me. Like He's saying, "Susie, don't forget the greater story. Don't forget our plans together. Don't let the crisis rule but let my kingdom come."
See, I get all panicky, fearful, the "fix me, fix this mess" false gospel rules and I miss it. Rather, I miss Him.
"Honey, what's changed? I have been and always will be your provider."
And it seems these discomforts beckon me. And, well, expose me.
Who or what am I really trusting in? Who do I think I need to become to earn comfort and care? All my false narratives and lies show their ugly face... and sweet grace meets me.
"None of this is new to me. I see it all, Beloved. I just long for you to know me in this, to see me as I really am, not as your lies and distortions tell you. My life is available to you. Yes, even here."
I am hard pressed on every side, but learning the beautiful discomfort of trusting Jesus with all of me. Amidst something I deem "a mess," he perhaps sees as an invitation to trust. Trusting in a kingdom that is not like this earth, where dreams often take longer to be fulfilled but are better than we could ever hope for or imagine (Hebrews 11). Where money doesn't always feel abundant, but provision comes with unexpected graces and bounty. Where new life is being birthed amidst unforeseen difficulties and uncertainties (my niece is set for arrival this week).
And again love beckons me...trust. With eyes not of this world, but a heart that believes I AM.