I had a moment this week - well actually it was more like an hour - when a dark and overwhelming feeling came over me. That hadn't happened in awhile so it took me a little by surprise. Generally speaking it wasn't one of the more difficult days I'd ever experienced so I felt kind of pathetic about my state. That wasn't necessarily helping.
The good thing was my instinct was to pray. Or at least one of my instincts was to pray. I had another to call someone in hopes of getting either some encouragement or some pity. I think I was craving the latter just a bit more. I managed to follow the prayer instinct which in my experience has always been the best first course of action.
It's interesting to me how quickly my view of my circumstances can change. The circumstances themselves don't vary much - the house has some significant unattended projects, I need to lose thirty pounds, my daughter's been sick for almost two weeks, money's been tight for a lot longer than that and so on. What I think happened in that hour was a perspective change.
I was much more consumed with my temporary situation than the eternal truths that God has so graciously shown me.
And I grossly misinterpreted my condition. It's not like I live on the Jersy shore in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, right? I'm sure a lot of people on the east coast are feeling a lot more overwhelmed today.
But here's what I think the thing is - God allows suffering. In fact, I would go so far as to say He sends it. I mean if He's sovereign and totally in control (and I believe He is) than nothing that happens can be outside of His providential will. So why does a good God send suffering?
I don't have all the answers to that one, but I think part of it has to do with His mercy. I may have just lost a few of you. But I honestly believe it's an act of mercy to show us how desparately we need Him. Because I can be living in the best circumstances in the world with a self-absorbed heart and a dying soul. If I don't think I need God, I"m certainly not going to pursue a relationship with Him, but if that's what He desires (a relationship with me) then He will use wisdom beyond my limited knowledge to bring it about.
That sort of stuns me. That the God who made the universe would first desire a relationship with me, and then care enough to make it happen to orchestrate events in my life that keep me close to Him.
And it's not like he's callous or unacquainted with suffering. It's the opposite - no one suffered on this earth more than Jesus. I would do well to consider the amount of suffering I avoid because He took it on Himself. And I would do better to remember that I have an advocate who can comfort me better because He suffered first and worst. Hebrews 4:15 says He sympathizes with my weaknesses. Astounding.
So I got discouraged and overwhelmed this week. But I prayed and cried for help. And God in his faithfulness reminded me to "fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2
I find that merciful.