Two weeks ago I sat on Worthing beach and admitted to God that I am not all right. So what has happened since then? The immediate thing that happened was a profound sense of relief – that it’s all right not to be all right sometimes.
The other thing was a deeper sense of engagement with God. I think this is always the result when we are honest with Him. It’s not that what we tell Him comes as a startling revelation to Him, of course not – He already knew how I was feeling better than I knew it myself. But somehow being deeply honest with Him about exactly how I am takes down a barrier of my own making and ushers me further into His embrace. It’s a good place to be. I would even say, from fairly long experience, it’s worth the pain we go through to get to that place.
That was a discovery I first made in 1996 when Ellen had just had major spinal surgery. It saved her life which was by then hanging by a thread. But it also robbed her of some of the scant use she still had left of her limbs and worsened her disabilities. And as her mother I discovered such a depth of comfort in Jesus that I realised it’s worth anything we go through just to know that our comfort comes from Him; because if we were never in need of comfort, or never admitted our need, there’s a whole aspect of Jesus we would never encounter.
In the past couple of weeks, I have had a bit of a meltdown – I’m still quite fragile, and it doesn’t take much to push me into scary-not-coping territory – this week it was something as minor as both our pets being ill that was the final straw.
But, gradually, I am starting to feel, if not all right, then at least that I can see I will at some point be all right again. This is a journey. It can only be taken step-by-step. Flying leaps don’t get you further along, they just result in faceplants. Maybe the Psalmist knew that when he wrote, “The steps of a good man (or woman!) are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.” Step by step God has marked out this path for me, and as I make each tiny forward movement He is delighted with my progress.
That definitely makes this more bearable because it becomes purposeful. Somehow, somewhere, this experience I am going through fits into God’s great scheme of things, and its purpose will one day be revealed. So I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death, not setting up camp here.