Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7 KJV
Only the Holy Spirit would dare to speak of multiple distresses and jumping for joy in the same sentence. It is exactly this sense of irony and mystery that has always drawn me to His personality and Word. Especially now that I am experiencing so many points of trial and seemingly endless wars in this mortal flesh.
In the body: tired, listless, beat-down. I don’t know what’s happened to my energy these past couple of months, but I just feel like sleeping. I wake up early and go for walks or runs, or I lift weights, and I go to work and try to be as productive as possible but every bit of my day – every step, every turning of the head, every task – is taking twice the effort it used to. I crave sugar. And by two o’clock in the afternoon I just want to go to sleep. For months now, I’m too tired to even read anything substantial. I get home and watch TV until I fall asleep.
In soul: tormented at night by thoughts of failure at work, or dying an early death, or feeling like everyone will abandon me. Beleaguered by constant lies – knowing they’re lies, but having to deal with them anyway – you’re not where you should be, you’re not going to succeed, you’ve failed as a husband, you’re not a good father, your kids won’t even remember you, you haven’t achieved anything and most of your life is over.
These are wars of the soul and the mind: the spirit is well, as always, but the body just seems to go along with whatever the soul whines about. I can’t even rule over the trinity of my own being.
Count it all joy…
I go places and minister the Word of God to people and they are encouraged. They cry, they say Amen. God is known in Zion. But I go home and feel empty and sick.
Our younger daughter will turn 18 in a few days, and she has already bought a plane ticket to go to Washington State and stay with her boyfriend for two weeks, against our council, against her conscience, against all we raised her to believe, in spite of her poverty, in spite of all our efforts to help her and prevent her from sabotaging her own life. It seems like all I can think about for hours a day and it is such a source of bitterness and sadness. Sadness turns to anger. Anger turns to imaginary declarations of actions I’ll take, and dire consequences I’ll warn about with flailing arms and upraised fingers, and judgments and wrath that will surely be meted out. But I just bite my tongue and tell my mind to shut up and leave the whole thing – especially the consequences – up to her more loving Father. But on the practical side, what do you get a girl for her 18th birthday when she is quietly defying you, treating you as if she wishes she didn’t have you as her father to begin with? And how do you quell the thoughts of imagining a spiritual enemy ravage her and steal the joy of her future when you can still remember how she walked and talked and felt in your arms as a little toddler?
I look at Facebook and just about all the Christians I know have allowed themselves to become so distracted by politics and arguments that they don’t testify anymore. Where is the presence of the Church? Its conversation is an onslaught of negativity and opinions spewing like cleft rectums, everyone preaching to their side, no clarity, no glory, no inspiration in the true meaning of the word. It’s all become a distraction away from Christ. Even what’s good and interesting can distract us from what’s best and necessary.
Long story short, there are manifold trials here, and for the most part, this is a private battle. I’ve talked with the pastor and my wife and one or two others, but no one else can really know where I am or what’s going on or why this happening or what the outcome will be. You can’t talk to most people, because they are immature or stupid, or maybe God can’t trust them with any suffering or fire, I don’t know. They’ll say you’re not really saved or feel obliged to offer some ridiculous platitude or soft-serve religious falsehood like “God never gives us more than we can handle.” No, there’s not really anyone who know what’s going on — especially not me. Only Father God knows. So to Him I close my eyes and raise my hands each morning as I cry for mercy and help, and place my hope in the promises of Him who is faithful. I can’t see how right now, but I know this period will prove to be necessary someday, looking back.