// when your soul is weary and there are still no answers. //

It’s happened again.

You know, the Thing you’ve been insecure about and struggled with in the past– not once, no, but several times– and have prayed fervently wouldn’t happen again?

Could be anything, from a relational scenario to a difficult situation to anything in between– but regardless, it’s your Thing. Something that makes your heart ache in a unique, particularly painful way that only you can fully understand based on your past experiences.

And here you are, facing it again.

Did I not just pray I wouldn’t have to face this again? you wonder, and immediately feel bad for wondering so.

Because God is good. You know this.

God hears you. You know this too.

God has better plans for your life than you do, and is not obligated to respond “yes” to your prayers. You know this as well.

You’re repeating Truth to yourself, even as the questions come creeping in.

And yet– the Thing is back, and despite what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown from facing it before, it still hurts.

It didn’t happen in the moment the Thing became a possibility on the horizon again, but later on, when I was rolling out dough alone at work, it finally hit me and I started asking God why.

Really, Lord? Again?

An exhale. Tears.

I’m sorry for my attitude, Lord. I know You love me. I know I have no right to be frustrated with You.

Shaping pretzels, putting them on trays, slamming the oven door shut with perhaps more force than normal.

But Lord, I’m so weary of this. So tired. I don’t think my heart can take going through this again. I can’t, Lord.

I start whispering aloud, incredibly relieved that I’m alone and no customers or coworkers are swinging by to see me in my moment of wrestling with God.

“Why me? Why is it always me? I thought I’d learned my lesson from this, and now You’re making me face it yet again? You know this hurts me. You know. I don’t understand why this keeps happening.”

Every single time I asked Him why, at work and in the shower and walking around campus– every. single. time.— He brought to my mind this C.S. Lewis quote from Till We Have Faces:

“I ended my first book with the words ‘no answer.’ I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?”

He wrote that on my heart that day for a reason.

Perhaps… perhaps my Thing is, at least for right now, a book that ends with the words “no answer”. Perhaps it will stay that way until I get to heaven.

And oh, but isn’t that a hard concept to accept: that perhaps we’ll never know why we’re going through these Things on this side of heaven?

We are a people who like answers. We are a people who like to know the reasons why. For everything, but especially for the things that hurt us.

And God, in His sovereignty, knows better. He knows that there are times when we do not need answers, we do not need to know why.

We just need to know that we need Him.

He Himself is the answer to the questions we’re asking. We just don’t even realize it, most of the time.

I need an explanation for why the Thing is happening to me again far less than I need to look to the only One who can carry me through the Thing.

I’m going to repeat that, because  w o w.

I need an explanation for why the Thing is happening to me again far less than I need to look to the only One who can carry me through the Thing.

When my eyes are fixed on Jesus, when I admit that He Himself is the answer and no other will suffice– I find that the only response to Him I can offer is praise.

It’s a “praise You in this storm”, “all of my life, in every season, You are still God” kind of praise, but praise nonetheless.

Broken, teary, but still good.

Declaring victory in Christ over and over doesn’t make the Thing go away. It doesn’t make the Thing any less painful. But it does straighten my spine, lift my chin, relax my shoulders.

It even brings a smile to my face.

Because sure, my heart may not be able to take another beating from the Thing. Sure, I may not feel I have the strength to face the Thing again.

…but what’s that verse about His power made perfect in our weakness? (It’s 2 Corinthians 12:9– one of my favorite verses.)

The Jesus in me allows me to be sad, but then to get up and face the Thing. All of the Things.

The Jesus in me allows me to lift my hands and praise Him even as the Thing draws near.

The Jesus in me allows me to, yes, express my frustration and ask my questions (He can handle it), but then bow my head in humility, repeat the truth of His Word to myself, and ask Him how He wants me to grow through this.

And one of the incredible things about Jesus is that He gets it. He knows exactly what I’m feeling, what I’m wrestling with, even when I don’t have the words to articulate it.

He fully understands our pain. And He is the best one to walk with us through it.

And if, heaven forbid, not just this Thing, but all the Things happen at once…

If I go through so much suffering, if I lose everything and everyone I have on this earth–

I still have Jesus.

No. Matter. What.

I still have salvation. I still have hope, because I still have heaven to look forward to.

That alone gives me reason to sing. That comforts me in my lowest moments, in my hardest questions that are yet unanswered.

His grace is sufficient for me.

His love allows me to face the Things in my life with trust in His good plan for me.

I’m not sure what your Things are, but I know we all have them. I’m sorry you’re facing them. I’m sorry for the answers you may not have. I’m sorry for the hurt.

But please know: you don’t have to face the Things alone.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus. That’s the best, the only, advice I can give.

He is the answer. He is what we need. He is the one who will create new hearts and renew steadfast spirits within us (Psalm 51:10). He is our hope, the reason we sing. He will walk through the Things with us. He will give us the comfort and strength we need.

And someday… the Things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. Even the very hardest Things. I’m so thankful I have that hope and confidence in Christ, in heaven.

In the meantime, I will continue to praise Him.

It is well with my soul.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
  In the light of His glory and grace.”

{love, Em}

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