Someone close to me once said, "life on earth is the most hell you'll ever see." That sounds weird, but it makes perfect sense. I've been saved through faith in Christ Jesus, not by works, but by His incredible grace. I'm not destined for hell, but heaven. So this life, with it's heartaches, this is the most hell I'll ever see. I'm so thankful.
It has felt extremely hellish lately. It can happen that way when expectations aren't met, well laid out plans fail, goals fall by the way side, and things that others found easy feel like the hardest things I've ever tried to do. Pedestals crack and crumble, causing whatever was on them to crash down right on top of my head. Relationships - far and near - strain. Loneliness swoops down and digs its claws deep, threatening to carry me away. And through it all, a God who is loving and omnipresent seems to be radio silent.
What's a girl to do? What's anyone to do? For a few days I cried. I asked a lot of questions like, "why?" and "how?" and "are you kidding me?" I settled down into self pity, wondering what I had done so wrong to deserve this.
The past few weeks I've been reading Isaiah and Jeremiah. So much heavy stuff. All I can see in the text is a God of wrath, who is repeating over and over again all the horrible things he is going to do to Israel for turning their backs on him. It continues on into Jeremiah. I prayed, "God why am I listening to this while I'm going through such a rough time? Where is the encouragement? Where is the grace?" Why?
The answer is one that my husband made clear with a simple phrase, "it's all supposed to point to how much we need Jesus."
God is full of wrath. Can you blame Him? He created us to love Him, and from the beginning we've turned away. We've committed horrible sins against him. He has given us so many chances to put on sack cloth, roll in ashes, repent, and turn back to him. But again, and again, we turn away. We are Israel. I am Israel.
The story is one of hope, even though it doesn't seem so. If it ended with God getting mad at them and punishing them for their immorality, it would have no hope. But it doesn't end there!
Enter Jesus. (who, by the way, was always there.) Without him, we deserve God's wrath, judgement, punishment. Because of him, we can come boldly to God's throne of grace knowing that our sins are forgiven. We can ask for things that we desire. We can dream big. We can have intimate, personal, real conversations with a God. His mercies are new every day. The wrath that we might once have been afraid of was absorbed by Jesus, and now we are free.
We are free to live for God, to serve Him. To trust that he loves us and no longer sees us as ugly, disgusting, sinners. He sees the blood of Jesus covering us, and pours out love and blessings on us. The very air we breathe is a blessing from God. Our fragile human lives are held safe in his capable hands.
When he seems silent, I feel like he's letting me struggle. Without the struggle, I don't learn anything. He hasn't left, he isn't laughing at me. He's my heavenly Father, and I'm his frustrated, angry child. And just like I don't always intervene when my kids are struggling at a new task, or to understand something, he isn't always going to. I know that he's always directing me, and he's listening. But I do believe sometimes he lets me fall, so that I know what I need to do to get back up again. The solution is always to hold even tighter to his hand.