Life has a unique way of delivering wonderful and terrible things simultaneously. We moved recently, and in the midst of an exciting time we found our sweet orange cat, Truman, dead in our driveway.
And just this past week I got a new car after twelve years in my previous one. I was ecstatic to say the least, yet while I was grateful for the new ride, someone I love was making (what I believe to be) a terrible, heartbreaking decision.
The New Living Translation of Psalm 65 describes this double-edged occurrence,
You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
Even the hard pathways...
They're always there. The hard pathways accompany the good and the easy. We have this passage hanging in our bedroom, and every time I see it I think of the bittersweet reality of existing in this broken world.
It's true. There is redemption to be had even in the worst situations. And in the simultaneous sufferings that accompany our blessings and good fortune, abundance is still ours. Thank you, God, for that.
But...what about those situations where there seems to be no hope, no clear-cut paths, no answer? No precedence, no guidelines--something that was more than a bad day.
When you ask people for advice it always starts with, "I'm really sorry, I can't imagine what I would do in that situation." And you think to yourself, "I appreciate the sympathy, but I'm still left with no clue."
What do you do when no one knows the answer?
You find yourself relating to the Psalms that include phrases like, "Why have you forsaken me, why do my enemies prevail over me, why are you silent..." You begin to wonder if anyone is listening at all.
You start to feel jaded when hearing others talk about what God is "doing" in their life. You remember when it seemed so easy to talk about a God who was on your side, able to say with proud certainty, "We are praying for this, praying for that, trusting in His plan."
So what do you do when it seems like God is silent?
Fake it till you make it? Pretend like you have confidence that's not actually genuine? Or lean into the hardest circumstance you've ever been through and trust redemption is coming?
We don't talk much about this. I'll be honest, I don't want to talk about it, nor do I really have any advice other than to offer solace that comes from saying "you're not alone."
I'm there right now, and I think it's important to be a voice for the ones who might also cringe at most of the church catchphrases that feel like bandaids on broken bones. You're not the only one, and this desperate wondering is nothing new. Our ancient brothers and sisters went through it as well:
O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall..."
Psalm 13 beautifully describes the angst of our confused souls and then follows with the optimistic, faithful conclusion:
...But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord, because he is good to me.
I haven't written in that conclusion yet on the Psalm I've been penning lately. I'm still stuck at the "How long will you look away" part. But here's where I am finding comfort...
Psalm 13 exists, because it is true, and what I mean by "true" is that every person who has tried to follow God for more than ten minutes will assuredly wake up one day and wonder "how long?" It doesn't always make sense, and that's okay--it has to be okay.
My hope is in a restoration that's coming, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day. And I'm willing to hold on to that hope, even when it feels pointless, even when it's seems ungrounded, even when there are no clear answers.
Books I recommend: