I remember when Jesus first set me free and I remember when I first loved Matt. They were around the same time.
It was all so schmoopy, so mushy, so cluelessly dumb. It was so idealistic, so full of “I Will Nevers” and “We Will Always.” So easy and blindly optimistic.
Fast forward fifteen years. I now have a love that has been tested by fire; love that has withstood swelling waters. It was not easy. I have done most of the “I Will Nevers” and dropped almost all of the “We Will Always.”
Our love has been shaken and torn down and rebuilt at least a dozen times. And just when I am sure we have our footing, the bottom drops out again. Just when I am sure of what it is, something comes along and proves me wrong; more breaking, more burning, more tearing down. It hurts like hell and it is terrifying.
But every time it happens, when the smoke clears and the waters recede, I look up and see Him more clearly. I love Him more honestly, I know Him more intimately, and I trust Him more completely; I am more sure of Him. When the scar tissue begins to form, I understand more than ever before that He is It. He is my one true thing. That life is horrible, hard, heavy, and heartbreaking but without Him, it’s nothing at all.
Where is God on your very worst day? Where is God when the bottom drops out? Where is God when the absolute worst outcome becomes reality? When all your hopes are dashed? When the healing doesn’t happen?
When we hope in anything but Him, we will be crushed. When we hope in the healing and not The Healer, we have put something besides God on the throne. When we rest our faith on a move of God above God himself, we have worshipped an idol. When we buy into the lie that a life of faith will buy us material blessing and protection from pain, we are believing heresy.
The Good news is this: He loves us. He never leaves us; when everything in our world burns, including us. Everything we thought to be true about ourselves, the world, and Him, shatters. When all that falls away, we are left with Him. Eternally Him. Unshaken, unchanged, unbroken. Eleven months ago in my Darkest Hour, He spoke to me. He did not leave me. And He did not leave Paul.
I have wrestled, fought, questioned, pushed back, accused, flailed, spiraled. I have doubted His existence, questioned His goodness, I have lobbed flaming accusations.
I am still out here in the wilderness. Yet I am not alone; I know He is with me, eternally.
2 Corinthians 4:7-18
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.