I have fallen into the immediate gratification movement. I hate waiting. I see something I like on Amazon, I press a button, and boom – it’s at my door in 2 days. I want to watch a movie? I press a button, and boom – it’s on my TV. This is the best one. . . I want to read a book? I press a button, and boom – it’s on my kindle. I don’t have to wait for much of anything anymore. Groceries, shopping (HELLO, STITCH FIX – PLEASE SIGN-UP AND SAY I REFERRED YOU), music. . . It’s all waiting for us at the touch of a button!
There are definitely a lot of negative outcomes because of this, but that’s not actually what this blog post is about. I just wanted to give you a solid backdrop so you understand how much I despise waiting.
Yet, God asks us to wait. . . a lot.
I started this blog because I struggled with health anxiety to an unhealthy (irony much?) degree. I used to beg God to take this thorn of my flesh away from me. I hated struggling with health OCD. I hated making my family suffer because of my fears. God did not remove this struggle of mine from my life for years. And there was no guarantee He ever would.
A friend and mentor of mine would constantly counsel me, “Don’t worry about the worry.” I would tell her how much I hated struggling with this sin, and her response would sometimes be, “He may never take it away.”
“Don’t worry about the worry.” What the heck did that mean? And hello, of course I’m going to struggle with struggling with my struggle (how’s that for a tongue twister?).
I have grown SO much because of this fight. Do I still struggle with putting an unhealthy emphasis on my health and being fearful of disease? Sure. Do I let it consume me? No. Did I do anything special that I can share with you who may struggle with this as well? No. I tried to remain faithful in praying and faithful in trusting He is in control, and eventually, I was able to overcome the intensity of my struggle. But let me tell you, other struggles just took its place. Harder struggles, harder challenges. And this one may surface back up at any time.
You overcome one hurdle and another just takes its place. I don’t want to struggle! I want relief and I want it now. I don’t want to live in the pain. But that’s exactly what God calls us to do sometimes.
“Don’t worry about the worry.”
I think what that meant was, sometimes we have to live in the hard. For someone like me who feels things insanely intensely, this is difficult. Because when I’m sad, I’m really sad. When I’m hurting, I’m really hurting. But, when I’m happy, I’m really happy. Imagine the ups and downs!
So when I’m sad, hurting, or struggling I believe that sometimes God calls me to be faithful through the hurt. To live in it. To not avoid it, run from it, escape it, fill it with something else. I’ve taken this so far as to when I get these intense moments of feeling sad or lonely or struggling, (oh STRUGGLING) I don’t try to escape it. I just live in it and faithfully beg, not for peace, but for obedience. I try to remain faithful and not fill the pain with empty things. I am not always successful at this by any means.
These seasons of pain, whatever they may be for us, will never go away. It is in the struggle where we can find much grace. It is when we are fighting that we know we NEED Him. There is no way around it. It is when we can’t stop sinning that we have to turn constantly – repent constantly – and acknowledge our deep need for Christ.
There is nothing this side of Heaven that will fulfill us completely. Not even our friends or spouses or children.
“Nowhere this side of Heaven do men and women reach the point of ultimate and complete fulfillment in relationship.” – Tremper Longman
It’s not going to happen. We can’t use our energy fighting for complete happiness in empty things. The emptiness will just grow.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 states so beautifully,
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.”
These trees are living in the hard. But, not only are they living in it, they are thriving in it. We can live in the discomfort, the pain, the struggle with sin by having roots – deep roots of trust and hope and confidence in a God who is always with us. And our roots will grow stronger and sink deeper into the ground the more we trust Him in those dark moments, not trying to escape them, but just remaining faithful through them.
We can do this knowing that ultimate fulfillment and satisfaction will never come while we inhabit this earth. We will always be left wanting more. But someday. . . we will never lack again. We will never suffer again. We will never have to wait again. And you know what? This life will seem so insignificant in comparison.
So, friends, He asks us to wait (Romans 8:18). He tells us not to run from our pain, but to use it to grow stronger in Him (Hebrew 12:7). He asks us not to fill our pain with temporary, fleeting pleasures, but to invest in eternal things that may not give us immediate gratification (where’s the fun in self-control?). (Colossians 3:1-2)
Through pain, we can find joy, even if we don’t feel it. By pressing on, obeying, and remaining faithful we experience joy in the midst of our fight. Like a tree thriving despite draught, so can we survive.