Sunday, September 1, 2013

When the Going Gets Good, the Grieved get Scared

Do you ever find yourself indulging in nightmarish speculation?  My morbid little mind often wanders into dark spaces that it doesn't belong- imagining the worst when my husband is late coming home from work or I feel the slightest pain that I decide is cancer. I have actually stared at a dark ceiling at 3:27am deliberating how I would spend the life insurance money.

If you've ever experienced deep grief or loss, you almost certainly know what I am talking about.  For everyone else, do not judge this intimate view into a scarred soul.

There's something about the hard times that feel almost comfortable to me.  I've walked through grief and pain and disappointment.  My soul has seen the dawn of incredibly dark nights.  In that darkness I was writhing, but God was so intimately close to me I cold almost reach out and touch Him.  His voice so clear, his peace and presence so strong.  

Somewhere in this beautiful experience of knowing God as my rescuer I lost perspective of His love.  I decided that since the Bible talks so much about trials, persecution, and endurance that this life was something I had to endure.  I had new resolve and conviction that I could do that with the strength I had come to know from God.

Then the strangest thing happened. Life got good.  

And a stranger thing happened.  The more blessed I felt, the more scared I got.

My contentment and resolve began to falter.  Strange, isn't it?  When you have nothing to lose at emotional rock bottom there is a security not only in God's presence but in an absence of risk.  Suddenly I had people I loved, achievements that felt important, things I enjoyed and I became paranoid about losing them.

God isn't just strong enough to get us through the bad times.  He's strong enough, good enough, and just ENOUGH to get us through life.

Paul puts it like this:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.- Philippians 4:12-13

Usually people emphasize that through God's grace we can persevere through times of need, hunger, or want.  I'm most encouraged that I can be content when "fed" and "living in plenty".

I can do it because God gives me strength.  Strength to resist the temptation to worry.  Strength to enjoy and fully experience my blessings with gratitude for God who gave them to me.  Strength to let my heart attach itself. Strength to trust Him that he is not waiting to trick me, teach me a lesson, or torture me by taking everything away. Strength to have hope in His love.

Even though God was so loving toward me in my grief, anxiety wells inside me when I think of going back to that painful place of loss.  Paul gives us the secret to his full contentment with God regardless of circumstances a few verses earlier:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7

So when things are bad, pray.  When things are GOOD...pray!  

Instead of ruminating in your anxiety, refuse the temptation to "take control" of an imaginary situation you do not have grace from God to experience- because it isn't real.  Lay your fears, mistrust, and worry at the feet of Jesus. He will replace it with a perfect peace that will guard your heart from your own painful fixations.

Memorize Philippians 4:6-7 and recite it when you start to imagine that the creak in your hardwood floor is a psychopath invading your home.  

Surrender your mind and heart to Jesus, there is peace there. Peace and joy and FREEDOM to experience the blessings of life he loves to give you.  You will discover a whole new side of God's love when you surrender to Him when times are good.


Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things - Philippians 4:8

Will all your worries add a single moment to your life? - Matthew 6:27