Deep Joy, Deep Pain, and Audacious Claims of Faith | Guest Post
I often spend moments wondering to myself, “How did I get here? How did this happen? What is going on? Why am I right here, right now, in this moment, in this place, and for what purpose?” Sometimes I am asking these questions because I’m sitting on the side of a dirt road in a rural area of Southeast Asia, somewhere near the border of Thailand and Cambodia, with one French man, one Cambodian woman, and one motorcycle with a flat tire, and no cell phone. And of those three people, only two of them speak English, and the closest motorcycle repair shop is at least 15 miles away, and we don’t have another car, and the last time I saw another human being or building was a good three hours before.
In those moments, I laugh, because the absurdity is so profound that only sweet Jesus can rescue me. (And don’t worry, Mom! I did survive. I’m sitting at my desk in America as I type this; I didn’t randomly get on a plane abroad and forget to tell you, again. I'll tell you that motorcycle story later. #sorrymom)
Other times, I am asking these questions because I feel and know and am so profoundly aware that I am exactly, exactly, exactly where God would have me be. I see evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in my church, my work, and my friends; I have purpose and serenity and joy in my community, and I’m thankful at the end of the day for the deep joy that life has brought to me that day, and on so many days and weeks before.
And finally, and far, far less often, I am asking these questions because I am in pain, confusion, and sorrow. Because I am completely out of control of my circumstances. Because I don’t have any signs whatsoever of why God is doing what He is doing, and because I have no way to alter, or to at least make a small change in what is going on in my life.
As I said, those times are far, far, far less often than the two previous scenarios I painted above.
And as much as I don’t like to admit it, one of those times is right now.
I generally live in the truth and freedom of knowing that God has given me a special gift of the spirit - to infuse my life and others' lives with joy - and I almost daily can look at my life and see first and foremost an overwhelming truth that God is good, God is joyful, and God has shared that joy with me.
But for reasons only sweet Jesus knows, my life has been deeply, deeply affected by pain for the last three weeks or so, and that joy - while it's still there in dance parties with my roommates or in good conversations with my co-workers - it is much less present as I acknowledge and digest and deal with pain in this season.
I feel that the mere knowledge of someone else’s pain, that sin exists in the world, and that this world is broken and needs to be redeemed has weighed so, so heavily on me for reasons that I absolutely cannot control.
I generally dislike and distrust blog posts like this, and if I were you six months ago, I probably would have stopped reading it by now. “Oh, yadda yadda,” I would have said. “I don’t want to hear about pain.” And rightfully so, Dear Reader! Because I don’t have any pretty conclusions here except for the verses and truths below.
If nothing else, I simply know that God has allowed pain in my life to refine me, mold me, grow me, love me, and teach me. Do I believe these things? Yes. Do I grasp onto these truths right now? Yes. Do I still feel a lot of pain right now? Yes.
And that is absolutely and completely okay.
It is sweet and true and I so very deeply believe that God cares for you and loves you and will, absolutely will, bring you back to joy in His timing and with His truth, with you being far closer to Him than you were before.
Before I ramble more and more into nothingness, here is some truth for you below from the Word of God itself. Read it and know it is true. Sit in it and know that God loves you deeply. Stay in it, here and now, hoping and praying for God’s peace, but believing that even if there is not peace in the foreseeable future, that is absolutely and completely okay.
And if you so desire, click here to listen to Oceans, by Hillsong, while you read.
Some audacious confessions of faith*:
I am fully forgiven and free from all shame and condemnation.
(Romans 8:1-2, Ephesians 1:7-8, 1 John 1:9)
I have no fear or anxiety; I trust in the Lord with all of my heart.
(Proverbs 3:5-6, Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7)
I am able to fulfill the calling God has placed on my life.
(Exodus 3:9-12, Psalm 57:2, Colossians 1:24-29)
I am fully resourced to do everything God has called me to do.
(Deuteronomy 8:18, Luke 6:38, Philippians 4:13)
I have no insecurity, because I see myself the way God sees me.
(Genesis 1:26-27, Psalm 139:13-16, Ephesians 5:25-27)
I am completely whole - physically, mentally and emotionally.
(Psalm 103:1-5, Matthew 8:16-17, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 Peter 2:24)
I am enabled to walk in the sacrificial love of Christ.
(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, 1 John 3:16; 4:9-12)
*I found these verses in another blog. They were adapted from a book called Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick. While I’ve never read the book, and thus cannot attest to whether the book itself is true, I believe the Bible is true and thus feel comfortable sharing these verses and true phrases from the book above.
Thank you once again, Jessica, for sharing your heart! Please catch up with Jess and read some more of her stories on her Instagram feed.