Tempted to Quit

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This is not a post about weight loss, though if you must know I can now brag about my ability to play give-and-take with the same 40 pounds. I can list that under my super powers along with my ability to sausage myself into a pair of spanx like it is an olympic sport! But that is not the point of this post.

Sometimes I am tempted to quit.

Do you ever feel like just giving up?

The hard space you are in never seems to end,

The doctor calls with the news that you have cancer,

You never seem to overcome that thing that seems to be destroying you, or maybe

the pain is relentless and you are weary.

And the elixir of despair roles in, blankets you and tempts you to just quit.

I have learned that some people quit showing up for their life long before they actually die.

Unable to cope, they mope and they turn to whatever can offer some whisperings of comfort.

I have been there.

It is the space of defeat and disillusionment.

9 years and roughly 70 pounds separate the woman in these 2 photos.

But the digital numerals on the scale were never the point, the storyline and the struggle can’t be tiddly summed up in a photo. Oh, photos can be so misleading, so let me peel back the curtain of what you do not see…

The photos don’t tell of the children missing, the health battles, the parenthood struggles, the marriage counseling, the parents dying, the rejection suffered, the pain continuing, and one thousand other tear dwelling spaces.

However, the photos DO silently proclaim a woman who has not quit and will not quit.

They hint of a woman who keeps showing up for her life and fighting for her freedom.

And today, dear one, that is my message to the one who is weary…surrender but don’t ever quit. In the midst of the storm Jesus is there, offering to carry you through, giving himself, and declaring His love for you.  With Jesus, surrender feels a lot like freedom. And I am slowly but surely learning that you can find freedom in the hard spaces because God never wastes a hurt. He has you.

Focus your gaze carefully, breath deeply, surrender completely, and take the next step holding onto the One Who Has Mighty Plans For You. This too shall pass.

The question is always, will you allow God to shape you through it, or the enemy to destroy you because of it? We freely choose. And I pray today that you will always choose freedom.

Share with someone you love and remind them to keep taking the next step.

 

Suffering

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Delicately pink and offendingly small.

Small enough to hold what once was two souls in their unfinished frames, and yet big enough to bury all my hope for the future.

I stared at the coffin as the numbness ran through my flesh, the numbness felt like a protective cloak that was holding in what was left of my sanity.

How do I grieve the loss of my children, God? How can I possibly keep going?

I looked down at the ground, carefully covered in that fake plastic grass carpet that attempts to pretty up a dying scene and hide the newly hewed out hole of earth that will welcome the latest to their return to dust, and I kept picturing my flesh falling forth into the hole.

I thought, just fall into the freshly turned dirt, heavy with the dust of those who came before. Fall in and join the dead, for what is left of you now? Hope is gone.

Let me die here with them, Lord. Why did you let me live? 

The melody began in my mind, softly, tenderly declaring words of hope and truth that were not felt by even one bone of my flesh. A song of praise, of praise to the God of dust, to the one who gave and to the one who took away.  All of my spirit joined in the chorus playing in my mind as the tears poured down my cheeks in surrender. How could I be filled with a song of praise to God while I stood at my twins’ graveside?

Was that one moment any less miraculous than if He had saved them? Or was it simply not what I would have chosen?

When would I ever choose to suffer? When would I ever choose pain? No, I would choose what I could control and fix and whatever felt good, but never would I choose pain.

What if there is profound purpose in the pain? Even as I type those words my flesh is ridiculously offended. Because, really, my self indignation wants to tell God how He should write the story differently, and it begs the question of his goodness. But does God owe me anything at all? And what could He possibly give me when I am faced with suffering, apart from my cries to remove the pain?

I am sitting in this space, over 13 years after the burial of my twins, asking the same question as I sit in yet another season of suffering and pain.

I read from Genesis to Revelation of some who came before, of God’s faithfulness, of His abilities to do far more than we can imagine, of His love. While something deep inside me cries out a deep and resounding, “Yes! True!,” they also feel like mere words on a page as I sit in this season right now. Should my feelings be what lead me? Only if they lead me to Him in eventual surrender of the simple realization that I am not God.

Remember.

I read of monuments they once built in the times of the Old Testament.

Monuments to remember what God had done.

Monuments that declare that God is bigger than their battle, bigger than their pain, that He always has a plan.

And I will myself to remember that scene, in that cemetery, with that small, soft pink coffin and with God pouring forth a song of praise in the darkness of death, and I remember anew how unfathomable His love really is. My mind still can’t comprehend how He was able. He became my hope without end. I did not come to my end that day, and light and beauty did dawn again.

In the suffering seasons, I have learned that His greatest gift to me has not been in the removing of my pain, but in the depth of His presence.  I have no words to express the mysteries of intimacy with God, apart from the deep certainty that He is worth everything, He is who I was created for, and He is my perfect peace in the storms. It is a gift of knowledge and intimacy with God only learned in the profoundly hard spaces, quiet possibly because that is what it takes for us to see and hear Him most clearly– the certainty that we need our Creator for our very next breath.

My feelings, while informative, are horrible drivers.

I have to fight to see the truth-

And to hunger for Him like the thirsty long for water in the desert.

God promises it will be hard. He promises it will cost us. He promises it will be worth it. But most profoundly He promises to give us Himself. In this we receive the most incredible gift, and this is the detail that changes everything, making the impossible possible.

This, my friends, not the absence of suffering, but the presence of the Savior, is the very pulse of the abundant life.