The days feels longer & bleaker than usual -the weather, the viruses, getting through the art & science of medicine. Hearing others’ bad news on Facebook, in work,in church, on the news.
We know that nobody said it’d be easy- but sometimes life feels just too hard,doesn’t it?
“Life is hard, but good,” said one of the speakers at an OMF afternoon. I knew what she meant- hard in the same way climbing a mountain is difficult but enjoying the stunning view at the top makes everything feel good.
It tied in to the audiobook I’d been listening to en route- Shauna Niequist’s book Bittersweet -reflections on the intermingling of bitterness & sweetness, heartbreak & hope in life.
I woke up early yesterday thinking about suffering & sadness , healing & hope. This deep subject was in my pre-caffeinated mind as it spilled over from a tangent discussed at the ladies Bible study the night before.
But how can we ever begin understand the complex interplay of faith & prayer, healing & medicine& the rainbow of the sovereignty of God overarching it all?
Sometimes, in tough times we need verses with promises like Romans 8:28 read out loud & clear. Sometimes we need our reality to be validated, someone to draw alongside us with few words, & fewer answers.
“Life sucks sometimes,” was one of the most helpful empathetic statements our former Pastor spoke to Rob in our darkest chapters.
In the difficult times, it can be hard to stay positive & faith-filled.Life can hurt deeply. When our soul aches,it’s ok to trust yet doubt, to hope yet hurt. And it’s OK to go to God with our questions & frustrations.He knows our thoughts before we speak them. He knows our limitations:
We see tangled threads rather than the finished tapestry.
We see the messy middle rather than the finished masterpiece.
And we can’t make sense of it- any more than clay can comprehend the potter.
We can’t see the big picture.
‘Each strand of sorrow has a place
Within this tapestry of grace’
(Getty Music-The Perfect wisdom of our God)
On Sunday morning I was reading about what Celtic Mystics described as thin places. Places where heaven almost touches earth, & God meets with us. I was thinking more of moments rather than physical places- where the almost palpable presence of God touches our troubled souls.
We can experience the presence of God in the breath-taking wonder of His stunning creation.
Our quiet times can be thin places when we read with the Author.
God connects with my daily life when I truly pray. Often it’s the depth rather than the length of my prayers that matters.
Thin places also occur when we feel stretched & overwhelmed, when we experience heart-wrenching pain that comes from being as broken as this planet we live on.
‘God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world’
(CS Lewis-the problem of pain)
In the thin places, our God offers peace to our troubled souls
‘He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.’
(Psalm 147:3 NIV)
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 NIV)
We don’t have to understand.
We don’t have answers but we do have our Saviour’s presence- through it all.
Life is hard but God is always faithful & always there
‘God withholds in His wisdom what He could provide by His power. I don’t know why He does it, but I’m thankful I don’t have to’
(Dr Larry Crabb – quoted by Emily P Freeman in A Million Little Ways)
‘We commit ourselves to Him, yes; but far more important, He has committed Himself to us, & what He takes He holds,& what He holds He moulds, & what He moulds He uses’
(Norman Grubb, The Spontaneous You)
I love that image- the Potter is holding & moulding.
Even when we feel like we’re free falling & life is reeling out of control, we are held- in His hands, & He never lets go.
In this journey we call life,
‘Instead of a map, our Father offers his hand.’
(Emily P Freeman)
….’and when you can’t see His hand trust His heart’ (Anon)
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* Edited & updated- originally posted @ www.blessedme.co.uk