Suffering, Hardship, and Certainty

Sometimes the bible sucks. Not the whole thing, mind you, just parts of it. There are parts of it that really, thoroughly suck… at least, from a selfish American perspective. 1 Peter 2 is one of these passages that calls us to things that we just don’t want to do. Peter starts off the chapter well enough by reminding his reader’s that they’re not actually alone (remember that the book was written to Christians spread throughout Asia-Minor and currently undergoing persecution). However, then he gets into issues of obedience, specifically obedience in the face of suffering.

As Christians we are going to suffer. Paul makes that perfectly clear in 2 Timothy 3 when he tells Timothy that those who follow Christ will suffer. Of course, for many this has led to the question: since I’m not suffering right now, does this mean that I’m not really following Christ? Of course not, but… maybe. The fact that Christians will suffer does not mean that all Christians will suffer at all times in all places. Christians are not promised constant suffering, nor are we promised universally equal suffering. We are simply promised suffering. If you consider yourself a Christian and you have never suffered for your faith, then the above may be a valid question. However, the fact that you haven’t suffered yet doesn’t mean that you won’t suffer in the future. To assume a constant or universally past quality in this would be a mistake.  That being said, Christians will suffer persecution. This persecution may come at the hands of people who disagree with us, people in authority over us, or people who hate us and are powerful enough to make the authorities look the other way (certainly this is far from a complete list), but it will come.

Not every Christians suffering will be equal. One Christian my be bullied in school, another may lose a promising career, another may be beaten, and another may have he hands and feet amputated. However, any suffering for the sake of the cross is a reflection in our lives of the suffering of Christ, and thus a thing of honor in which we should rejoice. This is a part of Peter’s message in 1 Peter 2. Of course, he also reminds us that there is a difference between suffering in general and suffering for the cross. If you are imprisoned for murder, you are not suffering for the sake of the cross, you are suffering because you killed someone. If you were lazy in school and thus have lackluster opportunities, then you are not suffering for the sake of the cross, you are suffering for you laziness. However, when we do suffer for the cross, it is a wonderful thing… this doesn’t mean it’s a pleasant thing.

I am always amazed by the (generally very young) Christians I see running around singing and praying and talking about how they want to be broken. I am often tempted to add to their prayer’s something like ‘God, please make so and so’s girlfriend dump him and kill his grandmother…’. Anyone who honestly, truly wants to be broken is insane. I have been broken, multiple times. Consider the meaning of the word here: to be broken, at it’s most basic, means that a thing no longer works correctly. When I am broken, I stop working. Being broken… hurts… to an unendurable degree. No one in their right mind finds this desirable. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t necessary. There is a huge difference between wanting to be broken, and being willing to be broken. If I truly trust God, then I must be willing to allow him to break me, because I know that being broken is the path to being better, and I want to be better.

Now that I’ve finished my rabbit trails, 1 Peter 2 calls us to submit to those who would persecute us. This is antithetical to the American mindset. An American, even most American Christians, is convinced that his/her rights and freedoms are paramount. However, 1 Peter 2 calls him to cast aside his rights, even in the face of unjust actions on the part of those in authority over him. American’s value independence and freedom to the point of making selfishness a virtue. However, the scriptures claim that we should think of ourselves as less than others, give of ourselves by putting others first, and allow ourselves to be treated unjustly and thus rejoice in sharing the sufferings of Christ. This is a hard shift to make.

A few years ago, I was fired from my job for unjust reasons (I think I’ve shared the story before). The company that fired me only gave me half of my last paycheck. They had deleted the rest of my hours. It took about a month… maybe a month and a half… to get everything worked out, and at first the company didn’t appear to be willing to handle the situation at all. For a few weeks I didn’t think I would ever be seeing that money, money that I sorely needed. I had a number of friends tell me that I should sue the company, and I wanted to. I had my schedule, and I had kept track of the hours that I worked (the company was notorious for losing hours). Moreover, I had a desire for vindication. However, I prayed about the issue repeatedly, and repeatedly God told me that I was not only not to sue them, I wasn’t even to mention the possibility. No suggestions or threats to create leverage or put an emphasis on getting things worked out. Even after mentioning this to my friends who suggested that I sue the company, they continued to push me to sue… I should mention that all of these friends were Christians. They cared about me, and they wanted me to take the ‘wise and reasonable’ course of action. However, in doing so they encouraged me to flout God’s specific will. They put human reasoning and my rights above the glorification of God, and I honestly lost a lot of respect for several people because of that experience.

God is trustworthy. Whether we are in times of plenty, times of hardship, or times of persecution, he is faithful to care for us, and he has not forgotten us. He has been, is, and always will be faithful to work everything to his glory and our good. This is something that we are all to prone to forget, and we shouldn’t be.

My Day Started With a Funeral

One of my college professors died this weekend, and honestly I don’t think it actually sunk in until I was sitting at his funeral. This is a man who I never really knew particularly well, but was still extremely influential in my life. Amazing how that works isn’t it? I hadn’t seen him in probably six or seven years, but I still practice things that he taught me on a daily basis. So, I was sitting there at the back of the church in blue jeans and a dress shirt because I wasn’t particularly close to the family, and it hadn’t occurred to me that people would be wearing suits and ties until I’d walked into the building and seen them wearing suits and ties. Honestly, I doubt the dead man would have remember my name even if I’d seen him a few days before he died. So, I sat there in my completely inappropriate clothing wondering who might be sitting at the back of my funeral wearing inappropriate clothing? Who have I influenced without ever realizing it, and who’s life have I changed, even though I don’t remember who they are?

We all influence people on a daily basis. In 1 Peter 2:11-12 the apostle exhorts his audience to live righteously so that those who would malign them will see the truth of their virtue in their daily lives. Paul does the same thing in Titus. It might be one of my students, or someone at church, or a person whom I met at a local coffee shop. It might be someone to whom I’ve taught martial arts, or a neighbor, or someone I ran into at the mall. Regardless, there are people to whom my life matters that I will never know about, and I have to wonder how I’ve influenced them. Have I spurred them towards righteousness? Driven them away from the faith? Made them give up on a dream? Or pulled them back into reality? I wonder what kind of role model I’ve been, because I can see how this man influenced me.

Of course, if I spend all of my time trying to be a strong role model to whom others should look in awe, then I invite pride, hypocrisy, and deceit into my life. The man who died wasn’t a perfect man. He wasn’t even close to it, and he didn’t hide his flaws, but he was also humble, forthright, and consistently inspired me towards Christ. He was a navy man, and I remember something he told me about serving in Korea. He told me that it was always easy to tell who the Christians were on the ship. When the shop docked at post most of the crew went into town to get drunk and visit prostitutes. The Christians were the ones who came back and felt horrible about it. He pointed out to me that the mark of a Christian is not that he is morally perfect, but that he is convicted of his sin, and that he seeks repentance.

I have often heard the argument that repentance is a turning away from sin. That a part of repentance is to not do the same thing again, and this is true to a degree. Christ did tell the adulterous to go and sin no more (assuming that this story is a part of the original text), and he does hold us to a higher calling. However, he also offers us grace. There is a difference between repeated sin and willful sin. I may stumble in the same fashion many times, but this doesn’t mean that I have chosen to live in that sin. However, this is a difference of the heart that only God can judge. I can’t look at someone else’s struggle with a particular sin and judge whether he truly repents and stumbles again, or whether he’s simply stopped caring about that particular sin. I can point out to him that it is something he needs to avoid. I do everything in my power to help him to avoid it, and I may gain some insight into his motives. However, I can’t truly know his heart.

So, I think, using this professor as a model once again, that the best way to be a role model is to pursue Christ with everything that I have. To put him first and do everything in my power to live my life for him. I try to do this, and I hope that I succeed. I hope that I am a good influence on the people around me, and that I stand out as a Christian truly pursuing the father, and as a man of virtue. Maybe when I die I’ll find out if I did.

P.S. I’ve had more posts than followers for a while now :). It makes me feel like I’m winning.

The Pursuit of Life

One of my bible professors died a couple of days ago. It wasn’t unexpected in any way, but it’s still surprising. That’s probably a little bit difficult to explain. I think that we are always surprised when someone dies. I remember my grandfather dying. He spent several years dying, and we all knew that it could happen at any moment, but it still came as a surprise when it did. Compare this to my Grandmother, who had relatively few health problems, but quite suddenly died of a stroke, or my friend Robin who was quite a bit younger than I am, but died quite suddenly in a car accident earlier this year, and it really seems like my grandfather’s passing should have been much less painful. It was expected, we were even kind of waiting for it, but when he finally died I still couldn’t believe it anymore that I could when Robin died. I think that death, even when it’s expected, always comes as a surprise.

The man who died was a truly amazing man. He provided the foundation for everything else that I’ve learned and understood. More than anyone else, excepting God of course, this man taught me what it meant to grow in my knowledge of the Lord, and that is something that I will never forget. I’m hoping to be able to attend his funeral service this week, and I don’t really see any reason why I wouldn’t be able to go, unless I simply forget about it, which is entirely possible I suppose.

At the moment things are going fairly well for me. Yesterday was a wonderful day, even though I only got a couple hours of sleep on Saturday night, and I was able to thoroughly enjoy every part of it. I had the chance to tell my young friend at church how proud I am of her, and what an honor it has been to watch her grow into the young woman that she’s become. She seemed very happy to hear that. I got to have lunch with some wonderful friends, new and old, and I got to enjoy my afternoon with very little work to do. I also got to spend a very sweet hour with the Lord before the evening service.

I’m hoping that today goes as well, and it’s off to a fairly good start. There is a woman on eHarmony that seems fairly interested in me, though we’re still just beginning to get to know one another. I suppose that we’ll find out what will happen with that when it happens. There’s also a young lady who’s been coming to my church that I find myself somewhat interested in. However, I rather doubt that she would return my interest. I was interested in her once before, a couple of years ago, when I was in a very bad place, and I handled it very poorly. 

There is no way to know what will come in life. However, we can be sure that neither the good times, nor the bad times, will last forever. Much like the endless revolutions of the Earth create night and day, our lives revolve through a cycle of events that bring both wonders and horrors. However, we must seek God’s hand in all of them and pursue him.

But then God

It’s easy to focus on the things that suck. Rejection is… memorable, and pain rather demands attention. The empty places in our lives stand out like gaping potholes in the middle of the road. The street might be 90% fine, but that one pothole is still hard to miss. Even if you don’t see it, you’ll definitely notice when you drive over it. It’s easy to notice the potholes, and it’s easy to notice only the potholes. The fact that the rest of the street is in pristine condition is relatively unimportant as the car bounces through that frustrating little pit. Life is often the same way. Most of life can be going quite well, but it’s still the potholes that we notice. The things that we don’t have, the things that aren’t going the way we want, aren’t things that we have to look for. They stand out and demand our attention, often with jabbing blades of intractable pain and frustration. Repeatedly I come back to the unwavering truth of Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire granted is a tree of life.”

I am quite sure that anyone who has spent much time reading this journal can guess what my deferred hope is. Well, there are a few, honestly, but one that seems to always rise to the surface. It’s also easy to say that I trust God. It’s easy to mouth the words, to play the game, to say that I’m alright with it, or that I’m getting used to it, or that it doesn’t matter that much. Unless you are utterly and completely broken it’s pretty easy to fake comfort and spiritual wholeness. To fake a relationship with God.

Do hard things. I really love that maxim. We have to do the hard things because those are the things that really make life worthwhile, and confronting our own dissatisfaction, our pain, our despair, our foolish pride and hopeless frustration is hard. It’s hard to let those things go and actually trust God. It’s hard to live day to day and honestly believe that God will fill in the potholes, even though he hasn’t yet. It’s hard to have hope, and it’s hard to trust him, and it’s hard to wait.

Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem titled IF. The poem as a whole is about what it means to be a man, but first stanza points out the difficulty of waiting:

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

It is hard to wait. Hard to maintain that hope and trust in the absence of desire-specific evidence. It’s hard not to give up, but it’s equally as hard to give up. I’ve tried and failed multiple times, and this is the crux of the problem. If I could just give up and move on with my life, viewing my singleness as a blessing in my life (which I’m sure it often has been), or if I could find a woman to love and who would love me in return, then this particular hole could be filled. That isn’t where God has brought me though. He has put me in a place of waiting, of hope deferred, and that is very hard.

That being said, being in this place of waiting has also taught me a lot about God, and his relationship with me. In the Old Testament God repeatedly presents himself as the jilted bridegroom, waiting for his bride to be a loyal, loving wife. Waiting for her to come around, to stop running to other men for comfort and satiation. Hosea probably presents the best picture of this, but it is a theme that runs throughout the Old Testament.

My life of hope deferred gives me some little microcosm of understanding. I can’t imagine the pain, the grief, the sorrow that fills God every time I run to something other than him, or every time the Israelites ran to something other than him, or every time any believer chooses something else over him (and we all do). However, I can understand that pain of waiting, of hope deferred, of repeated rejection, and that understanding lets me see just a little bit of the character of God. A character that led him to pursue the nation of Israel for over almost four thousand years. A character that led him to pursue the church for two thousand years. A character that led him to work in the lives of generations of believers and unbelievers, drawing them to him, loving them, forgiving them, despite the repeated wanderings and rejections this love incurred.

It is a love of which I stand in awe. A love that I cannot reflect, much as I wish I could. The forgiveness that God has shown me is immense. The forgiveness that he has shown the church Catholic is inconceivable. It is simply and entirely beyond me, and I don’t think that we can begin to understand the kind of thanks that we should have for that forgiveness. I mean that literally. I honestly believe that the kind of gratitude that love deserves is beyond the collective comprehension of the human race. It is something so incredible that it defies any and all attempts to imagine or explain it.

We live in a world that is full of problems, and we live lives that are full of potholes that constantly demand our attention. Our pains, unfulfilled desires, derailed ambitions, and forgotten dreams fill our minds with regret, and this is something from which we can’t escape. There is a reason that those things demand our attention, and honestly they deserve attention. However, when those things obscure the incredible blessings that God has showered upon us on a daily basis, then we lose the best part of life. We lose that unending gratitude that he deserves. Instead of letting pain defeat us and lead us to misery, we must let pain remind us of how much more he has suffered, and lead us back to that place of thanksgiving. Back to an unending gratitude for love.

The Way of Breaking Glass

In martial arts there are many ‘ways’. Aikido means ‘The Way of the Harmonious Spirit’, Karatedo means ‘The Way of the Empty Hand’, Tae Kwon Do means ‘The Way of Fist and Foot’, Kendo means ‘The Way of the Sword’, Tang Soo Do means ‘The Way of the Chinese Hand’, Judo means ‘The Gentle Way’, Kuntai means ‘The Way of the Fist’, Ninjutsu means ‘The Way of Stealth’, etc. Obviously there are many martial arts that don’t include ‘way’ in the name, but each includes it’s own philosophy or fundamental concept. Of course, we all have a philosophy of life as well which might also be described as a ‘way’, and every culture has a philosophical underlay that might be described as a ‘way’.

The title of this post is, I think, the best way to describe the underlying philosophy of American culture for the past three or so generations. Just like the names of many of the above martial arts, I chose this name for a specific purpose. Just like glass the philosophy of American culture emphasizes appearances over strength or usefulness. American culture develops people that generally look good, but are very fragile. In part this is because we emphasize self-esteem over confidence. As a culture we have convinced ourselves that self-esteem is the most important part of human development. However, self-esteem is based on our view of ourselves in comparison to others. We build our self-esteem by being ‘better’ that someone else.

I am reminded of a woman I passed in the park perhaps a year ago. This was a minor incident, but one that has stuck in my mind. This woman was walking with her child, trying to reassure him because he wasn’t doing well in math. The boy was suitably distraught, feeling that he was dumb and worthless, but the mother, instead of guiding him to areas in which he excelled, consoling him that math wasn’t the end all and be all of everything, or explaining to him that our worth doesn’t come from our appearance or abilities, exclaimed the he was the ‘smartest fifth grader in the world!’ A claim that obviously wasn’t true, even to the boy himself. Instead of actually reassuring her son that perhaps he didn’t have to be the best in math, the woman propped up a demonstrably false and very fragile image of excellence. We train ourselves to ‘look like the best’, instead of understanding that being ‘my’ best at something doesn’t necessarily mean being ‘the’ best as something.

Similarly, like broken glass, Americans are full of sharp edges. In general we are fragile, easily broken, and very quick to hurt others in order to boost our own self-images. In focusing so heavily on appearances we have developed into a culture filled with insecure people who look good, but have very little to offer. We have to be right, we have to be the best, we have to excel, and if anyone tells us that we aren’t or don’t then we accuse them of jealousy, bigotry, targeting us, or any number of other horrible things. We seek out people that are weaker, dumber, poorer, uglier, or in some other way ‘less’ than ourselves, and trade the ability to actually ‘get’ better for the questionable boon of spending time with people who make us look good. There is nothing wrong with taking the time to actually help others, but there is something wrong with avoiding the chance to be better in order to avoid looking worse.

I use the word ‘breaking’ instead of the word ‘broken’ to emphasize the continual nature of this insecurity. We are continually breaking and repairing our images, continually hurting others to rebuild our own broken pride. I have used the term ‘we’ throughout this post because, while I’ve been the recipient of immature, insecure behavior plenty of times, I’ve also dished it out plenty of times. I recognize this way in my own life and, while I’m trying to change it, I’ve been seeing lately how much work I have left to do.

I’ve come a long way over the past decade, but I have so much farther to go that sometimes the distance simply staggers me. I am consistently amazed by God’s patience, love, and intent in my life, and eternally thankful for the time that he has and is putting into me.

The Two Faces of Prayer

A couple of days ago I had a conversation with a friend of mine about Joel Osteen and the Prosperity Gospel movement, and for those of you who have a problem with calling this movement a ‘gospel’ movement, the word gospel comes from the Old English word ‘godspel’ which is a translation of the Latin ‘bona adnuntiatio’ which is also a translation of the Greek ‘euangelion’. Euangelion, Bona Adnuntiatio, Godspel, and Gospel all have one simple meaning: ‘good message’. Christians use this term to refer to the message of Christ, but having someone tell you that God is going to make you rich, healthy, and happy certainly counts as a good message. Not a true message, but a good message. That being said, my friend asked me the question: can’t Christians lean a little bit more on the prosperity gospel? Why is it so offensive to believe that God might want to give his children good things?

I was thinking about writing this post last night, which would have made it timely, but incomplete. In church this morning I was reminded of the second half of the issue: Prayer has the power to change God’s mind. If you don’t believe that then read Exodus 32, or Amos 7. This is not to say that God is variable or wishy-washy, but that prayer is effectual from time to time. Honestly, the entire concept that God changes his mind is theologically… challenging to say the least. We are told in scripture that God knows everything, that he is unchanging and constant, and that (at least on specific occasions) he changes his mind. I’m not going to try to break this down into a theologically understandable construction… to be honest I’m not sure that I can at the moment. Much like the hypostatic union, this is something that I don’t understand, and that I’m not entirely convinced I am even capable of understanding to any reasonable degree. However, I am confident that it is. God is constant, he is all-knowing, and yet he does change his mind. Not easily, and certainly not capriciously, and unlike ourselves when God changes his mind it is not a sign of changing or imperfect character.

So, all to often, attitudes concerning prayer in Christian America fall into one of two camps: either prayer is magic, or prayer is ineffectual, or at least only effectual for the internal being of the believer and not effectual for actual issues in life. Let me treat the prayer is magic attitude first: many Christians treat prayer as though it is a formula to make God do what they want. I’ve had people tell me that I was ‘praying wrong’ and explain that if I phrased my prayer in ‘this’ way that nothing would happen, but if I phrased it ‘that’ way then God must answer my prayer. This is both in part a cause of and in part a result of both the prosperity gospel and the word/faith movements in modern theology. The problem, as I explained to my friend, with the prosperity gospel movement is that it takes a part of the Christian gospel (that part that promises good things and answered prayer) and ignores the rest (all that stuff about suffering isn’t really important after all). The prosperity gospel movement promises and focuses on satisfaction through worldly treasures, which is exactly what Christ tells us not to do (the Beatitudes anyone? Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all that). The word/faith movement combines with this focus a belief in the inherent power of human language. This movement teaches that our words can change our physical reality, and that the right combinations of words can force things to happen. This then places God in the power of man. God must do what want as long as I phrase my desire correctly, and thus it is my will and not God’s will that truly matters. Clearly, again, this contravenes the teaching of scripture (James: you have not because you ask not, and when you do ask, you ask with the wrong motives, to satisfy your own lusts… I might have paraphrased a little). As I’ve said before, a good working definition of magic is the magician’s attempt to alter his physical reality through the manipulation of spiritual forces. Thus, these movements treat prayer as though it is magic, and prayer is not magic.

However, often in reaction to these movements, but sometimes through a reliance on logical reasoning, or simple bitterness that God has not done our will, but his instead, many of us respond by rejecting the effectual nature of prayer entirely. We argue that prayer ‘changes the believer’ instead of that prayer ‘changes the world’. Again, this isn’t entirely untrue. Just as God does promise his people good things, he also promises them suffering. Just as God does explain the effectual nature of prayer in the physical world, he explains the important effect of prayer in the mind and heart of the believer. In part, the purpose of prayer is to draw us into communion with the father and to mold us in the image of Christ… in part.

At it’s core, prayer is our means of communicating with God. Just like your cell-phone *luddite grumbling* is your means of communicating with your biological father, prayer is your means of communicating with God. Just like you wouldn’t only call your actual father when you need something (… if you do, and I’ve been that person, you are a horrible, horrible child. Go call your parents and tell them that you love them), you shouldn’t make your prayers into a list of needs and wants. Hopefully, prayer should mostly be a chance to talk to God, to relate, repent, worship, and yes, request. However, it is also a time to listen to God. If you are a Christian, God speaks to you. If you don’t hear him, then you need to learn how to listen (… logically the other possibility is that you’re not really saved… but we generally don’t like to talk about that).

Just like you’re biological father, God does actually want what’s best for you. Unlike your biological father, you have no recourse to say that God is being arrogant when he acts like he does know what’s best for you… he knows everything, remember? However, this does not mean that when I ask God for something he simply ignores me. He might not give me exactly what I want, but he does take my requests into account. So, prayer is effectual in the world, it is not magic, and it is important for me to understand the difference.

Recovery

There is always something else that needs to be done. This is particularly true in my job as I make my own schedule. You would think this would leave me with a lot of free time to relax, watch tv, read, etc. And I do take time to do all of these things. However, I have to make myself take that time. At any given moment in my life there is something that needs to be done. Papers to grade, announcements to post, discussion boards to reply to, blog posts to write, stories to write, something to clean, etc, etc, etc. Sometimes I’d swear that I’m as busy as I was in grad school. Given, a lot of these are activities that I choose to take on, but then, isn’t this true of most of the things we do in life? When there is always something to do, you have to make time to waste.

This is difficult for a lot of us. I know that, the way I was raised, wasting time was a bad thing. It was bad to relax, bad to have fun, bad to waste time. I grew up with the irrefutable knowledge that you always have to be doing something productive. So far today I’ve graded several papers, responded to about a hundred discussion board posts, had three meaningful conversations, met a new roommate to show him around, co-taught an Aikido-Jiujitsu class (back breaks… yay), written one blog post, and obviously I’m in the process of writing another. In between that I made dinner and found an hour to lie on the floor thinking about nothing. I’m sure a lot of you have busier schedules, but I wouldn’t call this an unproductive day.

That being said, we need time to recover. Whether this is recovery time from stressful ministry, from work, from simple stresses in life like moving or fighting with family members, or recovery from physical injuries (I think I mentioned the other day that I’ve managed to injure several joints in the past week), we all need downtime to rest, relax, heal, and spend time with God. See, God knows this. It’s probably why he required the Jews to take a sabbat. It’s definitely why he required biblical characters like Elijah, David, Paul, or even Christ to rest.

A good work ethic is a wonderful thing, but it can also be incredibly destructive. Physical injuries are probably the most potent reminder of the need to rest. While it’s important to be able to play (or fight) injured in the clinch, people who train while injured are stupid. They often wind up injuring themselves worse, and inevitably take longer to heal, and don’t heal as well. Trying to hike on a sprained ankle, or do kata on a broken leg is just plain dumb. That being said, I walked two miles in the rain yesterday… I think I should probably take my own advice.

The heart needs time to heal as well. Sometimes this manifests as a desire for singleness, sometimes as fear, sometimes as bitterness against the opposite sex (not the best manifestation possible), but all of these can simply be an injured heart needing time to heal and become whole. More than this, however, our heart’s need to rest in Christ. There are times when stress just won’t go away, when pain doesn’t stop, when it’s not what we are inflicting on ourselves, but what others are inflicting on us that is keeping our recovery at bay. At these times, it helps to have a resting place in Christ, a place of peace that doesn’t depend on circumstances. That’s the peace we’re promised.

Resting in Christ has nothing to do with circumstances and everything to do with the direction of our hearts, and that something that is worth relearning over and over… and over and over and over.