I have been mulling over this subject for months now, especially as I’ve been encountering situations of brokenness and longing around me, one after another — single people yearning for intimacy; seemingly successful people expressing a sense of emptiness; people nursing broken hearts; people betrayed and violated; people trying to fix seemingly irreparable relationships; people devastated by all sorts of tragedy; people just trying to keep their heads above water in the midst of multiple struggles.
If only I had a magic wand to make everything work out for them, for them to experience the joy of life in its fullness! But I don’t, and this joy is not mine to give. All that I do have is my own testimony — the continuing story of how God is at work in my life.
I sometimes suspect that I may just be suffering from chronic optimism, a stubborn (and hallucinatory) insistence to see the glass as half-full, or a total denial of my own predicament, such that keeps me from breaking my solid front. Once in a while, then, I try to check myself by enumerating in my mind all my challenges and deficiencies. Right now, for instance:
– I’m forty years old and eleven years married but I still don’t have a child;
– Plus my husband has been undergoing kidney dialysis for the last four years and is often in pain/discomfort or debilitated and has recently resigned from his job;
– Plus I have very meager savings;
– Plus we don’t have our own home;
– Plus my own job status is unstable.
– Plus, my sleep duration over the last four or five years(!) has been averaging about four hours, at best.
– Plus…well, there’s quite a good deal more.
Upon ascertaining that I am astutely aware of my (not-so-ideal) life circumstances, I then ask myself: “So how are you, really?” I search my heart and my spirit, and I always find this:
The Lord is my Shepherd; I have everything I need. (Psalm 23:1)
One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)
EVERYTHING I NEED.
HE is more than enough. With Him, I am whole. My cup overflows. And I am at peace.
Supernatural, but true.
The amazing part of this is that none of it is even my own doing. HE is my Shepherd who makes me lie down in green pastures, leads me beside still waters and restores my soul. It is HE who has given me a way to dwell in His temple and to gaze upon Him all the days of my life.
He has given me ALL that I need. He has given me HIS VERY SELF.
It’s all grace.
Everything else that I’m enjoying in this life are blessings, given that I may bless others and honor Him. As for all my challenges and deficiencies? They serve the same purpose: that as the Lord carries me through them, I am changed and I am enabled to do the good that He has purposed me to do, and give Him glory.
As He comforts me, I am enabled to provide others the same comfort that I receive from Him.
As He gives me His grace, I am enabled to extend grace to those who need it, that is to say, to everyone.
As He allows me to experience His power and His all-sufficiency, I am enabled to testify to these so that others may believe and praise Him, and find that in Him, they have hope and a reason to have joy.
This is not to say that I never feel brokenness and anxiety, because I do, a lot. When I see my husband in so much pain, or when I look at all the suffering around me, I sometimes find myself in a dark, lonely, shattered place. Then God taps me on my shoulder and reminds me of my part to play (as He plays His): to be His instrument of love, to be salt and light, to be His witness, wherever He has placed me and among the people that He has appointed to be in my life.
So, is it possible to experience wholeness, fullness and peace in this life? God has been showing me that it is, though it doesn’t come easily. It is by grace, yes, but accepting this grace means seeing it as sufficient, and thus being willing to surrender ALL ELSE.
And I’ll let you in on a little secret: The joy to be had is so worth it.