There has just been too much lately.
Too much violence, too much disease, too many surgical procedures, too many shootings, too many deaths, too much bad news overwhelming the good.
On a global level and a personal level, it has just felt like too much.
I could try to look on the bright side of life… “it won’t continue like this; it’ll get better.” But the pessimist in me has doubts, and I feel weak to face the promise of more of the same. Jesus himself said, “In this world you will have trouble…” and while the greater promise of his victory follows that statement, in the meantime, it is painful to deal with the overwhelming trouble. It’s tiresome.
Lately, I have had the humbling privilege of sitting with some of the most wonderful and sweetest people as they literally walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I have listened to their worries, fears, and been challenged by the strength of their faith. Their questions about the future and God’s providence have cut me to the core, because while I have the theological and biblical acumen to answer them, those answers ring hollow in my mind as these husbands, mothers, sons, wives, fathers, daughters, friends, and loved ones face deep and profound losses and obstacles. The truth, no matter how precious, is not always an easy pill to swallow when people are planning for cancer treatments, facing surgeries, or funeral services. The truth is not always a comforting light when it shines in yet another hospital room.
I love these people, and watching them hurt and worry and long… it has rocked me.
I have been down this road before, but not like this. Because all the individual loss that has struck close to home is, of course, also set against the incessant stactic of national and international crises with rampant gun violence, racism, bombings, protests, political posturing, and it is just too much…
As one who follows Christ, I know I do not grieve as one who has no hope… but I still grieve. We still grieve. When the words that give utterance to that grief are hard to come by, I have to rely on something deeper: the relief of the Holy Spirit…
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. – Romans 8:26-27
Truthfully, in my prayers the last few weeks, I have had to rely on this relief – that it’s ok to feel like it’s all too much. It’s ok to find myself groaning for comfort, groping in the darkness of broken headlines and fragile bodies, grasping for the only hope that matters – the hope of Jesus Christ. It’s not easy, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a charlatan. There really are times when it is too much. There are times when it’s ok to cry out, “How long, oh Lord!? How long!?” And then grieve, wait, pray, grieve, wait, pray, repeat…
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me. – Psalm 13