I've heard a lot of people say that they felt closest to Jesus in the darkest periods of their lives. I think I took it for granted that I'd be able to say the same when the time came - but I'm not sure I can. At least, not always.
Dark nights, rain slashing against the windows like tears, I don't always have a sense of His comfort or His presence. I just feel alone.
Gray mornings, eyes swollen half-shut, I don't always see His new mercies. I just feel alone.
I read my Bible every day somewhat robotically - we're in Ezekiel now - and at night, when everything is harder, I pray for us, the ones who are still making our way through the Valley of the Shadow. But as for the vibrant and joy-filled walk with God I expected to have through all the hard things, I think I'm just crumpled up on the ground somewhere halfway back on the path, and He almost seems unreachable.
It's been three months since we laid my Grandma to rest; fifteen long and brutal weeks since I had blessedly never seen the inside of a Neuro ICU; 104 days since anything in life felt remotely normal. And though some days the sun shines and I marvel that I'm actually getting through it, other days I can barely move for reeling from the pain and the chaos.
As we read in Lamentations last week: "So I say, 'My strength has perished, and so has my hope from the LORD.'"
But the very next lines of Jeremiah's lament read,
Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I have hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord.
Surely my soul remembers - and is humbled to recall - who God is: the One whose love will never let me go.
Maybe it's okay not to feel vibrant and joy-filled in my walk with God right now - maybe it's okay to grieve and be still. Maybe He can handle it if I tell Him that He seems far away sometimes, and open up my broken heart to His care instead of trying to hide it from His sight.
But at the same time, maybe what I need to look for, instead of immediate healing and the return to "normal," is the truth of who He is - and wait.
My circumstances do not define God's character, but God's character completely alters how I endure my circumstances - because He is my portion. He is with me. He is enough.
And no matter how I feel, I am not alone.