If you are anything like me, you are probably familiar with the idea of being in a certain “season of life”. A busy season at work. The Christmas Season. Maybe even “buck” season if you are a hunter. Maybe you are in a season with a newborn, or toddler? Our seasonal calendar allows for 3 months per season, give or take. Our human concept of time revolves around the changing seasons, and there is hope in that. The very concept of the word season suggests that it comes and then it goes. It ends. We know that even tho things are a certain way now, they will soon change.
But the struggle I am wrestling with at the moment, and maybe you are too, is what if they don’t? What do we do when the season we are in seems to last forever? How do we hold out hope when month after month, and for me at the moment year after year, despite our very best efforts, things remain hard. We do all we know to do, talk to all the people, believe all the right things, trust and hope and PRAY, and yet, God remains silent. What then?
This has been the genuine struggle of my life over the past few years. Life was clicking along one way, until it wasn’t, and ever since that moment in time, I have been on a rollercoaster of faith wanting to believe all the things I know to be true, but genuinely unsure of how they CAN be true when things look the way they look now. How can a good God allow this?? How can He be using this train-wreck for good?? What good am I to the kingdom or the world if I cant even clean up the mess that is my own life?? What have I been working so hard for my whole life if in a split second it can ALL become rubble?? These were and sometimes still are the painful questions that roll thru my mind… And if you are reading this to find the answer, feel free to stop reading now. I don’t have one. I am just a sister on the road towards heaven with many of you, wrestling with the pain of this life and trying to make sense of how to be faithful while God is at work seemingly behind the scenes.
Maybe this is you. Or maybe its someone you love dearly? I think as a Christ follower we all know how to bear down and survive the hard seasons of life when the hard part is a manageable amount of time. You know, like 3-6 months? (Thank you Shannan Martin for quantifying this for me.) We all know we can do hard things for a reasonable amount of time. We gather our support system around us, make the necessary lifestyle changes we need to make, and hunker down to ride out the storm. This, we know how to do.
What I did not know how to do, and still struggle with if I am being fully transparent, is what to do when the “season” lasts MUCH longer than I am ok with? In my personal life, I am over 2.5 years into this time of my life that I did not ask for nor expect, and as far as I can tell, there is no end in sight. (I would like to add here that “Lord, I do hope I am wrong about this last sentence!” ;) ) I continue to do all the things I know to do, and yet, as far as I can tell, God STILL remains silent. This is a kind of pain and frustration I had never in my life experienced before, and I sure do not love it. But it has given me a perspective I did not have before, and I am sure that at some point in my future I will find this information valuable, because I believe God does not waste pain, but that is much easier to believe for other people than for yourself while you are in the midst of the storm.
If I can share anything with you that may bring comfort or encouragement, let it be this.
1- If you yourself are in the midst of a long stormy season of unknowns and frustration, you are not alone. You are not the first or the last person who is feeling this way or experiencing this pain. I know it feels you like you are. Trust ME I know. But you aren’t, and feelings lie loudly and all the time. So cling to the TRUTH with both hands, and surround yourself with people who will point you to and remind you of that truth.
If you are the friend or loved one of someone in a season like this, PLEASE keep showing up! We know it gets old. We feel like the burden who cant seem to get it together. We feel like this should be resolved already. Your friendship and support, your PRESENCE, your smiles, encouragement, gift cards, written notes, calls, invitations, and so on… they MATTER. Please know you are being the hands and feet of Jesus as you are loving us through this season. You mean more to us than we will ever be able to articulate, I promise you.
2- Stay IN the Word. I know this is hard. I know you are tempted to give up. I know you think ‘what difference does it make?’ But, ask the Lord to lead you to the passage He needs you to know, and then listen for His voice in it… Study it, memorize it, listen to pastors you respect teach on it… God’s word is living and active, and it WILL help you through 1 more day. Sometimes thats all we can ask for… Surviving today. And, clinging to and studying God’s love letter to you WILL HELP.
3- Take care of you. Do things you love. Build in time and space to be alone, and feel all the feelings. And also take care and love on others. There is a balance between focusing solely on ourselves, and spending time loving on and caring for those around you. Invite your neighbors over for dinner. Get to know someone who has less than you do, or someone who is hurting. Be the hands and feet of Jesus for someone else as you cling to and long for Jesus to show up in a big way in your life, and I promise you, you will see Him.
I wish I could end this post with the answer to how to wrap up or end this time in your life. I wish I could say "What I have learned is... and thats how you get out!" Sadly, that is not the case. However, I am learning in the long and stormy, dark nights of the soul, God does still show up. He has shown me that it isn't until He is literally ALL I have, that I learned that is enough. Not because the Bible tells me so, but also because I have lived it, experienced it, see it with my own two eyes... And thats not nothing.
I will leave you with this song. One that I recently learned but has spoken deeply to my heart. Perhaps it will bless you also.