It’s a word I’ve used to define my life since the beginning of the year. I am weary of this word and it’s usage in my life. I am weary of having justifiable reasons for using it. I find my self teary even as I type. Hard.
I find that hard is not a comfortable response when others ask me how life is. The question may be asked with honest interest, but there are underline acceptable responses, of which hard is not one. “Good! things are great, everything is looking up.” Or the appropriate honest response of, “I’ve been on a challenging journey, but God is good and all will work its way out. As all things work together for the good of those who love Jesus.” These are the responses most commonly expected. When you’re me, these two responses often feel demanded. But hard…. not the word most want to hear.
Honestly, hard, is not the word I want to say. I want to be able to say that life is good and overflowing with blessing. I want to say that I hit a few bumps in the road, but God is good and I know that all will work out for my good. I want to be able to smile as I describe every aspect of life. Honesty and authenticity keep me from doing such. (Though at times, I simply start talking about work and the good in the lives of others, and avoid the question all together) In reality my word for 2013 has been hard.
Last night as I was driving to a concert where I’d hear young Ugandan children sing and tell the stories of their lives and hopes for the future. As I drove to the concert tears filled my eyes and seemed to pour out. I found myself using a phrase I really had no desire to say, but once again honesty led me to speak what was real, and these words found their home on my lips, “God I’m disappointed in you. And I expect disappointment from you.” I wrestled with these words. How can I be disappointed in God? I am going to hear stories tonight of those who in all right, can justifiably say that they are disappointed with how life has worked for them. I mean, I’m not without family or clothes or food or other basic needs? How could I be disappointed? But honesty once again forced me to vocalize my felt let down and my expected let down in the future.
Hard and difficult are words those of us who follow Jesus too often ignore. Somewhere, we bought into a system that said once you follow Jesus, faith and hope and the goodness of God will keep you from experiencing difficulty or at least experiencing the effects of difficulty. But that my friends, simply isn’t true. Yes, God is good. He is faithful. I can put my hope in him. I can get through terrible circumstances with him as my guide and companion, but there is no where that I am promised my experience will be easy or that it will lack suffering or discomfort.
It is often the case that two truths must be held; the reality of current circumstance and the reality of the character of God. He is good and that goodness does not ebb and flow with life circumstance. He is faithful and that faithfulness is not lost when we hit walls of pain and impossibility. He is love and that fact does not change when loneliness is our only friend. He is hope and that remains even when the one thing we love is lost. One truth does not discount the other, nor does one truth cancel out the other. No, in fact the truth of God’s character meets us in the discomfort, loss, suffering, pain and hard and He feels that pain with us.
Two hands, holding two truths. It is in this place I find myself today. I hold two realities, feel them each with great weight and lean into the honesty felt in the presence of each.
What two things do you find yourself clinging to today?