This last month, and more specifically these last few weeks, have been very challenging for me personally. Challenges with my boys were combined with everyone I care for getting sick. A baby who had been sleeping twelve hours a night for months has been waking 2-3 times a night to feed because he will not take solid foods (we are working with him in speech language therapy for feeding because of sensory issues). Needless to say, I have been beyond exhausted.
When I get exhausted, I operate in survival mode. If it works to get through the day, I do it. Survival mode is not a mode we thrive in as humans. It does not bring good habits or good fruit. I have had little to no time in God’s word, little to no sleep, little to no fellowship with healthy people. Isolation and exhaustion and lack of nourishment in truth make me an easy target to believe all kinds of lies. I swallow them whole. “If you had done _______, your boys would not struggle with this.” “If you could be more _______, the problem would be solved, but you failed big time.” “You sure messed this one up.” “If people knew this about you, they would not respect you or want to know you.” “Nothing is ever going to change.” “If you had a different personality make up, your family would be so much healthier.” “You should be doing so much more.” “_______ is a much better friend than you.” “________ is a much better mother than you, wife than you.” “_______’s life is so much more fun and interesting than yours filled with date nights and vacations and fun play dates.” I could go on and on and on. These are just a portion of the thoughts swimming in my head with not a lot of healthy balance of truth to combat them.
Yesterday’s sermon was about how we need to know that we are well loved by the Father and that we need to experience being well-loved by the Father. That means we dwell in Him, spend time in Him, listen to His words of truth soaking them in, learning to believe them, experiencing them in the context of His people–all the things that I had been lacking a lot of in this past month. My roots were not growing deeper in Him, they were trying to grasp to the shallow things of this world. I was being uprooted quickly.
This morning, I landed in Romans 8 (I got up after my youngest actually slept until the 5:30 hour before needing to be fed–thank you, Lord.) I was specifically in verses 31-39. I love this chapter of the Bible, and I generally go somewhere in it when struggling. There was a different emphasis this morning, though.
“Who shall separate us from the LOVE of Christ? (I usually look at the list of things that would dare to separate us–tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness or danger or sword) No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors THROUGH HIM WHO LOVED US. For, I am sure that neither death nor life (The intricate messes we have, the mundane days, the duldrums, the challenges that tear us from regular time with Him), nor angels nor rulers (that shout lies to us and attack us in our weakness), nor things present (all the things that overwhelm and cloud our perspective and cause fear) nor things to come (that we imagine or that are very real dangers) will be able to separate us from the LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD.”
In the verses before these, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own son but gave him up for us all, how will He not graciously with Him give us all things?”
Water was poured into my anemic roots and strengthened the plant. The good news (Gospel) of God–that He did not spare His own son but gave Him, brought the wrath against our sin on Him and brought Him to life again on the third day conquering death and sin. Who did that out of a love born before the foundations of the world, so that we might be His declaring His glory and praising His glory. If He gave His own son–His beautiful, treasured possession, He is not going to let us be separated from Him. He will not let us be conquered. He has greater intentions and will bring them about.
There are some very hard, trying times in life. A lot of times people make light of life with these verses–“we are more than conquerors, we are too blessed to be stressed…” Verse 36 says “For your sake, we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to the slaughter.” Yeah, too blessed to be stressed doesn’t really fall in that category of being killed for the sake of Christ. Most people I know that have been in the vice grip of severe darkness and have kept some form of communication open with God and His word (with struggle and not perfection) have made it through with a deeper love and a deeper understanding and a deeper hope knowing the Love of God in Christ Jesus (these are some of the most beautiful people I know that sing of living for the praise of His glory with tear stained faces). They have come to believe this will all their heart. I have been there, and I knew I had to make it to the water of His word to be nourished and strengthened. I knew I needed His presence to remind me. He has been there as I have struggled these last few weeks but I have not been present in Him. He graciously has allowed me to hear of His work in others–giving me sprinkles of rain to my parched plant.
I am thankful, this morning, for the opportunity for my mind and heart to be renewed in His word. I pray for deeper renewal in the days to come. I pray that the lies going in will be combatted with the truth that I am chosen, loved, powerful in Christ’s love, confident in His power, whole in Him, significant in His kingdom and to Him. All I am and all I have is because of Christ’s love and work on the cross and His resurrection. That is my prayer for my boys and Greg–that they will know this love and this God and love Him will all their hearts, minds, and strengths. My prayer today is that I might serve them in love so that they might know this truth. The challenges we face right now are hard, but they are NOTHING in comparison to His love and purposes in the big picture. The challenges now become a part of the tapestry He is weaving to make us all more like Him and to be part of the beautiful big Story of His kingdom bringing Him glory and praise. Perspective, Jen–Let’s remember this today.