Romans 15:4 “And the scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.”
I’m going to get real for a few minutes and talk about the struggle. This has been a tough few weeks. Health, finances, vehicles, marriage…. they’ve all been hit. It’s like that game of battleship where your ships either sustain hits, near misses or not even close shots. We’ve experienced all three of those scenarios and while all our ships are still floating, they’ve taken some hits. And in the middle of all of that, I read the above verse. And for me, it is so true. I can tell when I haven’t been reading my Bible. Discouragement settles in like a fog and makes hope seem like a far-off shore that I can’t quite reach. My temper becomes shorter and my patience runs low. It’s not good for me, our marriage, our kids, the ministry or my friendships. I tend to pull back and withdraw when things get tough. I internalize and retreat. The self-protection walls go up and I batten down the hatches to ride out the storm. The thing is, God doesn’t want me or anyone to live that way. We are meant to live in authentic community and support each other. God is using the farm and this journey we’re on to teach me that; again. Because sometimes I’m a slow learner.
Stepping out and asking people for help is scary. Stepping out and starting something like the farm is super scary! And there’s this lie that we’re not brave enough or strong enough to do the hard and scary. But the truth is that with God we can handle the pain, the hard and the scary because of who He is, not because of who we are or what we can do on our own. Because God takes our weaknesses and uses them. God takes the tough and the hard and the scary and uses them. I was listening to a podcast in which the speaker likened pain to a hot potato in which nobody wants to hold onto it; they keep passing it off to the next person because it hurts too much to hold onto it. What I am learning is that it’s ok to say something sucks. It’s ok to say something is hard and you’re not sure what to do next. Sit down, be still, be quiet and just be present in the pain. Whether that’s by yourself or with someone else. Don’t try to fix anyone. Don’t try to find a solution. Just be there and allow God to do the healing and the mending.
I believe God is teaching me this because we’re going to have kids coming to the farm who are going to be in pain. They’re going to be hurting, scared, angry and they will have walls of their own. Yes, we will have professionals who will unpack that with them, but I can sit with them, cry with them, hold their hand, let them be angry without needing to say anything. Rest assured, I will also pray for and with them. I’ll be asking God to do the healing, restoring and renew all the hurt places. And pain has a brutal companion called shame, and shame can be even more crippling than the pain. Because shame tells an even bigger lie that not only did you do something wrong but somehow, you deserve it. In John 10:10 Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus doesn’t say anything about a perfect life or a pain free life. He talks about having a full life and a full life includes pain and beauty. Even now, we are praying for the kids that will be coming to the farm. We don’t know their names or their specific situations, but God does. So while I’m not jumping up and down with joy for the current “tough” our family is experiencing, I do know that He will work everything out and use it. God never stops loving us, caring for us, interceding for us or pursuing us and for that I am incredibly grateful!