When Will It End?

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John 16:33, “I [Jesus] 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.”

I find it ironic how my last blog post was about a storm. I live in North Carolina, and we are recovering from the recent Hurricane Florence. SO. MUCH. RAIN. We are very fortunate that there was no damage to where we live and no flooding. The power was out for about three days, but that was all. Still, after Hurricane Irma last year (I was in Florida at the time and the eye went over my hometown) I was not about this hurricane. During the basically week-long storm, the most common phrase that flashed through my mind and my grumbles (yes, I was not a happy camper!) was, “When will it end?”. The week prior Florence, due to my chronic pain issue, the pain in my legs and hips began intensifying as the air pressure began to change. I was very, very uncomfortable and just could not wait for the storm to come so that it would be over.

But then Florence did show up, and Florence just decided to hang out for awhile as it turned from a hurricane into a tropical storm, into a thunderstorm, into grey and showers, into clear skies. (Again, about a week-long storm process.) The seemingly constant rain, and intensity of my pain, made me into a less than pleasant camper. Mumbling under my breath again and again, “When will it end?”.

Maybe that’s you too. Maybe it’s not a hurricane, but maybe it’s a sickness, a job loss, the death of a family member… fill in your blank. Maybe it’s just one thing piled onto another, and you feel like if one more thing goes wrong, you’re gonna break. “When will it end?”

I know I’ve been there – a lot, actually. I have had the one thing after another, after another happen to the point where I just want to be done. I’ve known the exhaustion and the long, long tunnel where I didn’t know the end. I’ve had well meaning people give me a hug and say “tomorrow will be a better day” or “things will get better soon”, and I look at them, and it takes every ounce of my being to stay calm, cool and collected. Because they don’t know what will happen. How could they? So, as a writer, I will never promise you that things will get better. I will never promise you that you’ve already had enough trouble, so you’re going to have a break from suffering. Because I can’t do that. That would be lying. But what I can tell you is better than that.

What can be better?

At the beginning of this post, I shared a verse from John 16. Jesus clearly doesn’t tell us hope-1804595_1920that after one or two bad things, everything will smooth out. No! He basically promises us that we will have tribulation. We WILL have trials, hardships, suffering, pain…. But that’s not the highlight of the verse. Like an Oreo, the tribulation is sandwiched between Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and Jesus the Overcomer of the whole entire world!

Friend, please hear me. Do not loose heart, because the Savior of the world is on your side. Abiding in Christ means we have all the peace we could possibly ask for, because Jesus Himself is our peace. Drawing near to Jesus is trusting that because He has overcome the world, He is capable of handling anything that gets thrown our way. In fact, He already has. He did that at the cross….

As someone once told me, ‘life is not for the faint of heart’. Basically, at some point, things will be hard. For people like me who live in chronic pain, we automatically have something that is always hard. Friend, I am sorry. I am sorry for the storms happening right now in your life. I wish life was easier. Oh, how wonderful that sounds! But while it is not, we have to cling to the promises of God and that He IS GOOD, no matter if our circumstances do not appear that way. God is for you, His son, His daughter. He loves you with an everlasting love.

light-1551386_1920One day, Jesus will return and claim the victory, and death and pain will be no more. But as I recently heard in a sermon (shout out, Tim Rice!) ‘during this window of time where we have God’s mercy of bringing people to Himself, there is room for evil and destruction.’ (I’m paraphrasing.) But as believers, we know there IS an END, and we know that the end is when Jesus will take his rightful reign.

Oh, my friend. As believers, we have SO MUCH HOPE, because our life rests in the hands of Jesus, not in the pain, the trials, the storms.

Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!”

 

Rocks & Sand

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“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” ~ Matthew 7:24-27

Last weekend Jarrett and I went hiking. The trails we took were relatively easy (I can’t do hard-core hiking with my legs) but one of them lead to a really pretty waterfall. I LOVE waterfalls. I love them so much that I’ve always said that when I get to Heaven, I really hope there will be waterfalls so that I can slide down them. Anyway, enough about my odd obsession with falling water…. We walked through some woods on a dirt path to the beautiful sight of the falls. Once arrived we walked a little further out onto some of the more slippery rocks to take a picture. (Don’t worry, friend, we were in no harm!) After snapping a couple pics, we turned around and headed back onto the path from which we came. Going back would be easier, right? Hahaha, nope.

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Holding Jarrett’s hand, on we our merry way we went. He’s super good at hiking and doesn’t even have to look down to see where he’s going. He just hikes flawlessly. So, here I am, a klutz with leg problems, hanging tightly to his hand. Holding Jarrett’s hand gave me a false confidence that the hike would be easier and that his tight grasp would keep me from falling. On I hiked, hand in hand, looking towards my leader – and not at the rocks, and roots at my feet. So, what happened? I fell. Hard. It hurt pretty bad plus I was embarrassed because I was accompanied by an “expert hiker”.

After I got up and was able to continue down the path, I immediately thought of the analogy above that Jesus shares. Because of the fallen world we are in, the rains will fall, the floods will come, and the winds will blow against us – our faith. Throughout my life, I have seen many great people wonder from their faith, or turn away from it all-together. The interesting thing is, these people attended church, sat under pastors and even studied in school under doctors in theology. They were immersed in the Bible, they heard the words of Jesus over and over again. Every story is different, and I’m not about to make a blanket-statement for everyone, just FYI. But an observation is that many times people who are raised in the church have their parents, pastors or teachers’ faith to hold onto. Therefore, they go through life as long as possible hanging onto something that is not actually theirs. The betrayal, the sickness, the injustice does come. Then what?

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On our hike I was holding onto something for my foundation and my guidance that was not actually mine. And I fell, badly. I was so distracted by this false sense of security that I forgot to look down at the path I was on, and plant my feet on firm rocks. Oh, friend, the same is all too easily true with our spiritual orientation. Learning from parents, pastors and teachers is a wonderful thing. But are we really taking the lessons and hiding them in our hearts, and applying them in our daily lives? Or are we listening and learning just enough to get by, but forgetting to continually look down the path God has set before us, and placing our feet firmly on our Rock?

Oh, friend, my prayer is that you will take the words of Jesus as building blocks to create an ever deepening faith in order to stay strong in this stormy world of ours. Non of us will be able to 100% stay firmly planted because no one is perfect. The temptations to look for our way apart from God’s plans are very, very real. You will fall, and so will I – I know I have already. But even when we fall and we miss an opportunity to firmly plant our feet, our God is a God of second, third, fourth etc, etc, etc chances. His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!