Life wounds….. there is no getting around it. It isn’t always tragic, it sometimes just pricks like a thorn. But it’s those little tears that can add up the most. Life lets you down.
I want to thank Bill Delvaux for opening a window to explore this, because it is these hurts that point us eventually toward heaven and it is pain that inexplicably keeps the heart alive.
Life is often a series of disappointment: Robert Frost correctly asserted that ‘nothing Gold can stay’- even the good moments are fleeting and drift away in slivers. I always thought it was appropriate that Pip experienced all the shock of seeing his world collapse in “Great Expectations”.
“All the truths of my position came flashing on me; and its disappointments, dangers, disgraces, consequences of all kinds, rushed in in such a multitude that I was borne down by them and had to struggle for every breath I drew.”
But it was the subtle letdowns that he noticed first:
My (new) clothes were rather a disappointment, of course. Probably every new and eagerly expected garment ever put on since clothes came in, fell a trifle short of the wearer's expectation.
A big part of Christian maturity is accepting the ‘beautiful letdown’ as a reality that does not dampen joy or hope.
The apostle Paul makes this point vividly clear in Roman 8:18 “ For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because  the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good…”
But it is not an easy lesson to learn. It must be experienced by faith over time. It means silent suffering and patient endurance. It really is like birth pangs that ebb and flow with variations of intensity.
I have had my share of deep hurts.. including the loss of my mom.
But it is the subtle wounds that can exasperate, partly because they send mixed messages. Is God angry with me? Is this deserved discipline? Is He protecting me?
I look back over old notes regarding a time in my life where I sought a head coaching job. I ended up being the runner up four times in a row! My reactions were all over the place… sometimes anger, sometimes laughter.
Look at some of my former journal entries:
There has always been a cry inside of me. It’s hard to describe exactly, something akin to a hunger. It throbs and fluctuates, groaning to be born. But it always stops. I am somewhat afraid of it…is this the evil part of me? Is it an unquenchable thirst for pleasure and self-satisfaction that wants to destroy all the good intentions of my creator?
I am afraid because I know it is tied to my ego- that part of me that wants to matter, to be noticed, to be applauded as the winner of whatever race I am in. Is it evil? Does it miss the mark- what the English termed a sin?
I am also afraid because it may turn out to be a sham. Some wild excuse to sound pseudo-philosophical and be nodded to by the brilliant. It is so funny, I am a roller coaster between self-assertion and self-denial, self-confidence and self-condemnation…. and now I chastise myself for self-absorption.
I have lived long enough now to have more questions than answers. I have read the great writers and realized that I can’t even read, much less write. I have heard the great preachers, and realized I can’t hear. I have mulled over the great thinkers and realized I can’t think. The only really good thing I do is forget.
Then I soothe myself by finding someone lower than me, only to realize that I perceive him to be lower, I can see no farther into him than he can into me. So what is my premise?
I am glad I am not a mathematician or a scientist. I am glad I am not a lawyer or a doctor. Lord knows we need all of these. I am glad I am not a mechanic, or a plumber, or an accountant, but I am glad my wife is an accountant.
I am glad to be me. I enjoy appreciating the dull things. I do love life and all in all it is an easy one. There is a part of me afraid of God. Afraid that He will look down at me one day and say, “suffer”. I know there is pain a comin’- death of loved ones (update mom passed away in Jan 2004, brother in drug rehab 2004). I feel a knee twinge now, or get a gas pain in my side, or have heart burn and I pause..”is this cancer? A heart attack? Arthritis? Lou Gherig’s disease?” Then I pause again and say, “What a poor view of my Father I have”. God design is not zapping people out of their mirth; it is getting me to trust Him enough to ascend the mountain of His pleasure.
But I’m writing today to say that I fell trapped. I am a gold fish swimming so hard against the edge of the bowl that I am fagged out- (thanks for letting me reclaim the term). I am punching against golden puppet threads and am tangled. I see the air on my gauge at critical, but am too far under the surface to survive. And so I am crying out.
I do not want to be cut loose from my wife or my girls. I do not want away from my Lord. But I need to get away from this sanctuary. I have been too safe for too long. It feels so good to lie here and soak, but I’m afraid that if I stay too long I will lose my desire to ever move again. I’m too young to pull in my reins and rest. Will I then find I have saved all I have, risked nothing, but never gained anything?
So how do I approach this? How does God’s sovereignty fit in with my knack for manipulation and coercion? Can I push so hard that I go where God cannot bless me? Do I sit back and find I never arrived where He could use me? One has faith to sit and wait – am I showing faith by swatting every gnat in my eye?
I am discovering that the truth of God that states that He put eternity in my heart (Ecclesiastes) can feel sometimes like a curse- it is a madness that tortures me. So I am crying to you- Oh my Father- get me out or take me out or take out that part that wants out….just please help…. I am not demanding…. I am begging and it probably sounds like a whimper.
It is now more than 6 years later… and I see God’s purposes more clearly. But I am still a man who hurts… cut me and I still bleed.
Losses still hurt…. Arguments still frustrate…. Rejection still wounds me.
But I am more able to at least say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord”.
I see that the granting of tears, teaches compassion. Ravi Z is right, I will feel no passion to change until I feel the pressure in my own soul. There are seasons- A time to laugh and a time to cry- My prayer is that we always show compassion and love first- it is actually more important that the truth that comes later?
The question will come: Why?
There are a lot of wrong answers to the question of wounds and a few wrong responses to these happenings. I don’t have time to go into it in detail- but there is a growing Heresy within the evangelical church that is a new spin in age old unbiblical answers to these issues.
These heretics are not bad people- but unfortunately are giving advice that sounds good to the human ear, but really offers no real hope- in fact, in the end it robs them of a path to true recovery.
So hear me very clearly-God is great and God is good/ Great in that He is in control- He ordains these dark times and will use them to His glory. The very second you say that God is not in control, you began to rob Him of His Godness and you begin to believe that He is not trustworthy.
A surprising help to me is Psalm 107
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so- what is the so? Oh Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His steadfast Lord endures forever. Whom He has redeemed from trouble.
4-9 Some wandered- became hungry and thirsty- He led to straight way satisfies the longing. All of us are wanderers.
10-16 Some sat as prisoners- shadows of death- for they rebelled- example of substance abuse - you cannot escape- there are all kinds of dependency- the heart of the addict.
17-22 Some foolish- sowing and reaping-
23-32 Some just experienced storms of life- not making the team/ injury/ sickness
33-42- The general providence of God- divorce/bankruptcy/cancer/crime/ school authority and decisions of those in authority
Hear the promises in this Psalm:
Cry to the Lord and He delivered
Thank Him for His steadfast love
He satisfies- He fills the hungry
He brings them out of the shadow of death
He breaks the bonds- shatters iron and bronze bars
He delivers from distress
He sends His word and heals them
He delivers from destruction
He controls nature
He shuts the mouth of the wicked
43- Attend to these things- consider the steadfast love- and SAY SO
TELL OTHERS OF HIS GOODNESS- EVEN IN THE MIDST OF PAIN.
IF YOU CAN HURT AND STILL PRAISE THE LORD…. YOU ARE REALLY LIVING!
IF YOU CAN HURT AND SERVE OTHERS… YOU ARE REALLY CARING!
IF LIFE CAN LET YOU DOWN AND YOU STILL FEEL JOY AND HOPE… YOU ARE REALLY READY FOR HEAVEN!