I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:24-26)The window is open, and outside somewhere, someone is playing a cello. It's a mystery in this neighborhood of neon signs and massage parlors and the grace of it mingles with the smell of car exhaust and of stale frying oil from the take-out downstairs and the distant, wobbly sound of someone singing off-key in the karaoke rooms on the next street. And strangely, wound in and around my tired, tangled thoughts, there is the sudden sweetness of gratitude. Here in my struggling heart is thankfulness for a gift I couldn't imagine and didn't wish for, and the music brings me an understanding that words and my internal remonstrations have failed to work up: the sense, and not just the cold knowledge, that God is good.
I have been discouraged. With everything, and, more humiliatingly, with nothing at all. I have told myself to be strong, and reminded myself that God has a purpose in everything that He chooses for me, but I have failed to overcome. I am full of stumbling and confusion and frustration. I am all running and flapping, and no rising up on wings as an eagle. I am ashamed of my weakness and and worst of all, disappointed in God for not rescuing me from myself. The enemy is always there to point out my blasphemy, and then it's a smooth twist from there to the dark suggestion that God doesn't really care about how I feel - a thought I know to be foolish, but it resonates and lodges in the dim corners of my heart just the same.
I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
(Psalm 42: 9-10)
But others before me have so failed. Elijah sat under a juniper tree and begged God to kill him. John the Baptist sent messengers to ask Jesus if he was really the one. The answers they got are the same ones that God gives me: silence, scripture, and sleep. Maybe my job is not to overcome the discouragement, but to be willing to endure it. Then the enemy will see that my merciful God uses broken things.
A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he sends forth justice unto victory. (Matthew 12:20)
When I am tired and discouraged and cannot feel that God is kind, I will hold tight to His kindness anyway. I will believe that He loves. I will wait for Him to restore and to make sense of this waste. And for tonight, there is the sound of the bow drawn across the strings. It goes on and on, and this night the unexpected grace of the music, and the sense of gratitude that comes winding with it, is enough.
And I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, and the consuming locust, and the cutting locust, my great army which I sent among you. (Joel 2:25)
Until I can see, I will wait.
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)