By Brenda Black
I know it could be worse. I know I have many reasons to be thankful. But I still want to cry and my heart feels like it is in a vice grip. I find myself sighing out loud and in a mental haze, working to snap out of it. Mostly, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to keep it all together and not blow my witness! No pressure, right? Oh yes, a great deal of it at the moment! Though most of it stems from circumstances way beyond my control, a good portion comes from an imaginary standard self inflicted.
Fear and worry and all those big ugly what if's make me short of breath these days as I try to comprehend a truck load of information headed down a highway toward an uncertain destination. Uncertainty makes me weep or sometimes out and out bawl. I like my world in order and I much prefer a happy outcome – especially for those I love. But sometimes this fix-it gal can't make it better and that's a hard pill to swallow.
When I came clean with my mom the other day about my anxieties and the desire to be faithful rather than fearful, she gave me license to grieve over an unexpected and unwelcome change of circumstances. What a relief. And when a friend phoned to have prayer with me, her thoughtful words trailed off into heartfelt sobs. I told her those tears were worth more than any perfectly uttered phrases.
They both showed me that it's okay to cry and sigh while I process troubling news. It's okay to be scared or disappointed. I am free to be human and feel what I feel. Whew! I needed to hear that.
To stay in the crisis and continue feeling overwhelmed – well that is another matter. That can be dangerous. To go too far ahead of what actually is can bring unwarranted heartache. A radio personality reminded me of that this week when she warned that living life with fear for tomorrow robs the joyful life of today. She wasn't preaching, but it sure did ring a biblical bell.
Immediately I thought of Psalm 118:24: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
And then one of the tried and true strength verses I find myself leaning upon more with every passing year sounded just like what the doctor ordered. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 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. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
I know these things. I believe these things. I practice these things. But sometimes, a kick in the gut can send us reeling and we need permission to recover from the punch. So thankful for a patient and loving God who understands that and for family and friends who embrace you and let you work through it.
I'll go on praising God no matter what comes. He may do something miraculous and I don't want to be looking at my feet with my head hung low when it happens. This day, I will rejoice, because I have much for which to be glad. When fears assail and worry tries to worm its way into my world the next day or the day after that, I'll praise the Lord and encourage others to do the same.
“For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness. The living, the living – they praise you as I am doing today.” (Isaiah 38:18-19a)