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It had been a heavy week. My friend found out her mom’s breast cancer was back, and she was feeling scared and totally helpless since she lived far away from her family. A girl I knew from college had just died of cancer at 32, leaving behind three young girls and a husband who is a widower before he turned 35. Another friend shared a struggle in her new marriage and her fear about how (or if) they would ever find a resolution. Emotionally, I was feeling a bit fragile after realizing a guy and I were not on the same page about where the relationship was headed, and I was figuring out the new normal without him.
It had been a heavy week. My own burdens felt heavy, and those closest to me were overwhelmed with theirs. It was a week where God felt far away and hard to find. It was a week where I was reminded of the tension we live in every day. The tension between the already here and the not yet of God’s kingdom.
The kingdom of God is already here because Christ has come, and we have personal access to Him. But the kingdom isn’t fully realized because Christ will return again, and all will be restored. So we live in the reality of a fallen world where things like cancer and broken relationships and divorce happen. Yet we have God’s presence to comfort us. But we long for and hope in the day when death is not the end. When there will be no more tears and no more weeks or months or years where life is heavy. We won’t be broken people living in a broken world.
When living every day in this tension gets to be too much, I’m reminded that God knows and God sees every heartache. Like David writes in Psalm 56:8 (ESV), “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” While we struggle, we can take comfort in knowing God sees every tear we shed. And we can cling to the promise that there will come a day when “He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new’’” (Revelation 21:3-5).
I don’t know what kind of week you’ve had, but I (we) need to be reminded sometimes that God is in the middle of the heaviness. He alone sustains us. He sees every tear, and one day He will restore all that is broken.
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--Ashley, thanks for sharing so candidly. I really like that verse; and I read it to a co-worker a few weeks ago.
Last weekend, I studied again this very issue you addressed. II Cor. 2:16-18 is a passage to which I have clung for several years. Having a biblical perspective is crucial. Last year, an unpredicted negative outcome from my successful epilepsy surgery was I woke from surgery blind in the left half of both of my eyes.
I have had to remind myself that this, "... momentary, light affliction is producing for [me] an eternal weight of glory far beyond comparison." And, I have to focus on the eternal rather than the temporal. The obstacles and challenges I face now are just a dot on a page in light of eternity.
--Oops! *That's 2 Cor. 4:16-18
--I can identify with that first paragraph, comparing my struggles to those of others. Whether mine are better or worse, it never does any good, and yet I still can't stop.
Even if somebody else's struggle is harder than mine, I often think that if I could simply overcome my struggle, then maybe I could help the other struggling person. Or maybe I try to convince myself that my struggle is nothing (like that episode of Seinfeld in which Elaine is stuck on a stationary subway thinking of Nazi prison camps), but in the end it is never nothing. It is something. But no matter how nasty our somethings get, there is always God's promise of Heaven, in which struggles will never exist.
--For me, the "tension" was reduced considerably when I realised how the Apostles suffered. Why should I a have access to "promises" that they obviously did not? I was neither more spiritual, nor possessing greater faith.
--I was on a prayer walk this morning and had to pray and give up several things like what you describe, things I was trying to "hang on to."
This passage has carried me through many days like this: "How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; and You give them to drink of the river of Your delights. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light." -Ps 36:7-9
--I've been reminding myself of both of those verses lately. I've been grieving two losses, a few weeks apart, of the two best things in my life. Really they were just about the only good things in my life apart from God. I thought I was coping okay until a few days ago when I realised that was becoming quite depressed. Whenever something bad happens I remind myself that it won't bother me anymore when I get to heaven. But sometimes that seems a very long way away.
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