6 years on…

…and I’m still wrestling with the same things.

“It’s going to be okay.”

“No, it isn’t!!”

“You don’t really want it to be okay, do you?”

I’ve been pretty stressed over the past few days, mostly over a paper that was due yesterday, which I handed in 10 minutes ago. Like any good girl who grew up in Sunday School, I know that I need not worry about anything, that I should not complain but be thankful, that I am able to rejoice in all situations and receive God’s divine peace. I recite the words perfectly, pray for all the right things, but my heart does not change.

At 9pm last night, with 3 hours to go till the end of the day (and the deadline for my paper), I grudgingly dragged myself to Mustard Seed, partly out of obligation, partly out of a faint belief that going there to meet God might help make me feel better. Of course, there are many things wrong with that scenario.

The last song we sung was “Trading My Sorrows”. Beauty for ashes, sorrow for joy… One of my favourite passages in the Bible (Isaiah 61). And so, another battle between heart and mind ensued. I know that I can trade my sorrows for joy, simply because God is willing to make that exchange. He extends joy to me, freely, all the time. So it’s the classic case of: Are you going to accept the gift?

My mind says yes, but my heart says no. Oh, selfish heart. Proud heart. Silly heart.

Why do we hang onto things that make us feel bad? Why do we not really want things to be okay?

I’m doing a 30-day prayer thing for Myanmar, and in last night’s reading, I read about the refugees who do not wallow in self-pity, despite their horrible circumstances and suffering, but instead continue to be encouraged by others’ faith and prayers for them, continue to be thankful, continue to look to God and receive His joy and peace.

Again, I am put to shame.

I hold onto my troubles because I like to be validated by them. I like to be able to say, “Look at me, look at all that I have to do, look at the things I have to endure, poor ol’ me…” and have people recognize that, because how can my pulling through and triumphing over all that bring God glory if they do not first realize the extent of my suffering?

I am being slightly dramatic here, but that is basically the thinking that lies behind my resistance to God’s good gifts, which is utterly silly, of course. It also serves as a (not very good) mask for the selfish desire for attention and glory, which really belongs to God.

So, if I want to be joyful, I must first lay aside my pride and recognize that:

  1. When I keep the focus on my problems, I am saying that God is not big enough. The truth is that He is so big that these problems are insignificant.
  2. As long as I keep wanting to look at my problems, I will never be able to receive from God.
  3. When I am nothing, I can bring the most glory to God.
  4. I bring glory to God by exuding His peace and joy in all circumstances. No attention needs to be given to the circumstances. The focus is on His constant and abiding peace and joy.

Please help me to grow, Lord. It’s time for some adult food.

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