I’m having another one of those dark days in France. Maybe it’s the rain pouring down on the tiled roof. Sometimes I wonder why God rains sorrow on our already-pitiful parade. I feel sorry for poor Job, enduring all that downpour. In the past several months, I’ve wondered WHY. Why has church planting been so difficult? There have been more days than I can count when I’ve wanted to give up. And then I get upset, wondering, Is this just how it goes? Do we face heartache and stress upon stress for nothing? Why does God bring us through far more than we can bear?
Frankly, I’m tired of the platitudes. I’m tired of hearing that God doesn’t bring more than we can handle. I don’t think that’s actually true. I think He deliberately brings us more than we can fathom or face. At times in that darkness, I’ve railed against Him. Yelled sometimes. Wondered. Cried. Got more angry than I can recount in words.
So today, with that lament as the backdrop, imagine my surprise when I read these words in Isaiah:
“The Lord will strike Egypt in a way that will bring healing. For the Egyptians will turn to the Lord, and He will listen to their pleas and heal them” (Isaiah 19:22, NLT).
Maybe I’m being struck for the sake of more healing. To be honest, I don’t like it very much. Healing hurts. I pretty much hate it. And in the midst of it, I don’t always run to Jesus. Often I blame. Or sulk. Or cower. Or stew. Or fume.
I feel as if I’m living Psalm 13:
How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.
But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
Right now, I’m in the first part of that psalm, crawling around in the mud of it all. Slimy, gritty, tired. I’m not to the “But” yet. Even as I write this, I worry that folks will send me happy-clappy emails about lifting my head and “just trust and obey.” I’d rather opt for empathy. Does anyone else feel this sometimes? Am I the only one who has struggled with the pelting of life?
I want to say the second part of the psalm, but the words feel sandy on my tongue. I want to sing, but all I can do is mutter. And yet, in the word “bountifully,” I feel a tinge of hope. Isn’t that the word God has given me this year? Bounty? Abundance? Will it really come? Or is that a sad mirage?
I don’t like being broken. I don’t like being stricken in a way that brings healing. I’d rather healing just come like the sunshine after rain. I guess that’s the point, though, isn’t it? The sunshine is all the sweeter after downpours. The sun seems happier in the elusive blue of a Seattle sky than the sameness of a San Diego expanse.
So it rains. In France and in my soul. I pray I’m climbing my way out of this two-year battle with church-planting in France. I hope so. I want to sing again.