Sometimes, it is hard to understand why God lets things happen and doesn't seem to answer our prayers. Our hearts can get hard, our heads can try to figure it all out, and our bodies can grow weary. Our own personal world can crumble into unrecognizable pieces that seem too impossibly small to put back together. I know what that looks like. I understand the doubt and hurt. I've let some ugly words of resentment escape my lips during hardhearted, lukewarm prayers. And you know what? It didn't wound the Lord. It is part of the process of my 'growing up'...my season of being pressed deep.
The last few years have been some of the hardest of my life. However, I'm not very old, so this isn't saying much. Even so, God has systematically stripped me and my husband of ever earthly security: fiances, jobs and shelter. Every dream and future plan has been stalled. To the world and our peers, we should appear as absolute failures. What have we done? What have we accomplished? Why won't anything go right?
But it was never in our hands to begin with. God has had complete control. He has set things into motion. He had gently pried open our hands, sometimes ripping them open. Pain and trails have been poured upon unwilling heads. Tears have run and He has not put a stop to them. Instead, He has gently caught them up, counting them, promising they will only reach a certain number (and I have a feeling that I've not come close to that number). He has let us taste of fear (not of Him AT ALL, but something He has allowed, perhaps because there is a lesson to be learned).
Through the pain and storms, storms that still brew, He is teaching us the heart of true worship. Because, you see, true worship demands a sacrifice. Most times, true worship is painful. Through my heartache, my pain, my inability to see what God is doing in my life or when the path will smooth out a bit, I can worship and praise Him anyway. Because let's face it, these are NOT the worst things that could possibly happen. Even if my God did not do a single thing for me, He still deserves my praise. That isn't an easy place to come to. Not easy place at all.
There have been mothers that have had to kiss their child goodbye, never to hold them again.
There have been crowds of people affected by tragedy, losing precious ones in a blink of an eye.
Children go hungry, abused and murdered.
Races of people suffer at the hand of extreme prejudice.
The innocent pay for the blood taken from evil ones...
Injustice prevails at every corner, never relenting.
It is easy to get angry and hurt, sometimes blaming the Lord for not being a God who can save us all and shelter us beneath His protective hand. After all, He hung the moon and the stars; He fashioned us from dust and His breath; He created everything in six short days. Certainly, He can save us/me from pain, from my tears, from the heartache that threatens to overwhelm me. He can make things right. And if He doesn't, then He isn't worth my praise. I owe Him nothing.
But true worship is a sacrifice.
In my pain, He is teaching me more than He ever could if not a single bad thing ever came my way. I am broken, and He is using that vulnerable moment to point my eyes to the greater, more important things in life. Even when I am filled with shame, wondering what other must think of us and our 'failures', He is whispering in my ear, "I did this. This was not you." He assures me there is a purpose and a plan, and what lies ahead will make the storm well worth it.
Think of Mary Magdalene. I am sure it was not easy for her to walk into the rich man's home where a crowd of people stood around Jesus. Countless eyes would have looked upon her with accusation and scorn, repulsed by her boldness to enter a respectful place. She was a prostitute; a woman of the night. What right did she have amongst these fine, educated, spiritual people? But she kept her eyes focused, sought out His face, and knelt down at His feet. With a crowd judging her, she broke an alabaster jar at His feet, pouring out the sweet contents of a year's worth of wages. She unbound her hair, dipping it in the perfume, and wiped the dust from her Lord's feet...
It cost her something. And who had the Savior's eyes upon her? Not the rich and 'spiritual'. Not the people that had it all together. Not those that had never tasted of true pain or had never navigated their way through a storm. It was Mary. Sweet, Mary...the Lady of The Night.
It cost her something. It cost her financially. It cost her her pride. It cost her courage...
So even though I still do not see where God is taking me...and still do not see His provision on the horizon, I will learn to possess a true heart of worship. Not only that, I will stand behind my husband, supporting him as he tries to reveal what a heart of worship looks like to anyone that will listen and follow his lead. Because a people that can praise and shout for their King, even when the ugliness rains down upon their heads...well, it will be those people that have His eyes upon them.
Rest assured, my friend...if you are hurting, lift your voice to Him and feel His eyes upon you.