“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Sometimes the most obvious things in life are the things we seem to miss, even though they’re right in front of us the whole time. This is how it was with me when I realized that my desire to have a life that was healthy, care-free, and limited on pain was far too important in my life. Being able to not have to worry about pain, weakness, or sickness was my version of the white picket fence American dream. It was so obvious, I’m not sure how I missed it. I spent so much time, effort, and money on achieving it, that I often found myself lacking joy when it wasn’t easily obtained. Those are all the tell-tale signs, right? When your happiness is directly connected to something, that you shape your whole world around getting it. That’s got to be somewhere in the definition of an Idol in a dictionary somewhere, right?
it’s actual definition is “an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship” or “a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered”…just in case you were wondering. So yeah, that’s me alright.
It’s really hard to look this kind of truth in the face. To admit that your dream may be toxic to you. To admit you might need God to pry it out of your white knuckled grasp. I was glancing at this in my life before, but recently I’ve had to really stare at it. I don’t want pain. I don’t want to suffer. I don’t want to be sick. I don’t want to ever have to tell myself “I can’t”. I don’t want to have to question myself or doubt my body’s capabilities. Ever.
So what does a kind God do with my white knuckled grip on my current and future health goals? He slowly pries my fingers back by showing me that my grip doesn’t really control any of the outcomes of my life. It just leaves me stressed out trying to fix things I can’t fix. So again, I’m a recovering control addict.
I’ve spent a lot of time praying through this realization, trying to find a way to accept a weaker not-so-perfect version of myself. I really hate being weak. It’s probably my least favorite thing next to not being in control of my own life. Is that because I like trying to be my own God and guide my own life? Is it because I tend to think that what I think of as good is the only really good I can guarantee in life and so I should only trust myself to provide what I know to be good instead of trusting that God is and always will be good to me through it all? Probably, yes and yes. No, not probably. Just yes. But as God peels my fingers back He doesn’t leave me empty. He fills and replaces these empty spaces with Himself and then there is peace. But the struggle to keep trying to fill them is a battle I’ll probably be fighting for the rest of my life. So I keep fighting.
The other day I was trying to pray through handling physical weakness again. I found myself praying that God would show me why I needed to endure this, which is a question I never really ever get answered. But He gave me something else. I felt like He didn’t answer my question with an actual answer but instead gave me a nugget of hope to hold onto.
He gave me this thought: that the pains and sufferings of this world are the worst pains I will ever have to experience, and that this world is as far removed from Him and His peace as I will ever have to be because of the cross and because I am His child.
Instant peace in waves. This is as bad as it can ever get for me. This world. It can only get better, and I have a promise of something so much better and greater than this world. And He is here with me as I go through these hurts and He sustains me, even though the trials of this world are only a short time in light of eternity. My time spent in this world is spent in His hands, which only draw me closer in over time. A broken body sustained by the hand of God and loved as His child until I’m called home. God isn’t my crutch to get through this life, He’s my healer and helper until He makes me new again. Heaven is a hope not just because I will be free of all the hurts and pains of this world, but because He will be there. That has to be part of the completion process, right? Being whole again because I’m fully with Him in His fullness? Because it sounds wonderful. No distractions. Just God. Sounds amazing.
So when I’m weak and beginning to fear, I remember that He has it under control, and that even the hard things are only for a time. It’s a peaceful thought to know that because He has taken care of my greatest need on the cross, that all my other needs are only for a time and He’s got those covered too. I already know how the story is going to end, even though I’m not sure how the middle of the story will play out, I know He does. Stepping into that kind of freedom in the midst of pain is an oasis in a desert that my soul was craving and couldn’t muster up on its own. Thank God that He knows what we need before we even ask, and that He is kind to provide for us what we need when we need it even if it’s as simple as a hopeful thought.