Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Monday, October 20, 2014

When the Long Night Comes



Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. -- Colossians 3:5


I want people around me to be happy.  I want people to have what they want.  I hate to fail.  I hate to let people down.  I like to procrastinate.  I like to goof off.  I like for things to last and to function correctly.  I don’t always like to maintain things and spend money on upkeep.  We live in a world where things break, weather, decay, fall apart and die, where we are constrained by time and energy and the availability of resources. 

My desires and preferences sometimes not only conflict with reality but with one another.  It’s not too surprising, then, that I am occasionally frustrated.  If I get annoyed, aggravated and frustrated enough, I have been known to say, “I wish I were dead”, or, “I will be glad when I’m dead”.  Probably everybody has some standard phrase that they use to express that kind of end-of-the-rope emotion.  I used to say something different and considerably more vulgar.  I’m not sure it was worse.  In fact, I tend to think that wishing I were dead is probably offensive to God. 

It’s true that we are supposed to die to self, to apply “the metaphor of death pictured in baptism to [our] actual life” as Christians (Word Pictures in the New Testament, A.T. Robertson).  On the other hand, no matter how painful my life is, no matter how much I may feel like a failure, no matter how apparently hopeless things have become, I am and always will be valued and loved by the Lord.  To think that I might as well be dead or that I would be better off dead, or even that those around me would be better off if I were dead – well, honestly, in a sense, it might even be true sometimes.  It is understandable that someone being tortured would long for death and that what constitutes torment varies from one person to another.  Yet, to think my life of no value comes perilously close to the advice Job’s wife gave him that he should curse God and die.         

If we live long enough – I’d even say if we follow God long enough, apart from His mercy, it is not unlikely that we will find ourselves despairing of life, as Paul himself did:  For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself (2 Corinthians 1:8).  

 It happens, and when it does, the only answer I know is to not quit.   

There are times when I don’t feel very faith-y.  I feel beaten.  I can’t see any point to my life at all.  I’m just here, and I’m hurting, and it just doesn’t make any sense to keep going. 

But I know, deep down, at some level, that’s when you beat the devil.  That’s when you become an overcomer.  That’s when you are walking in victory.  It doesn’t matter how it feels, how dark it is, or how it looks.  It doesn’t even matter how it ends.  All that matters is getting up and going on. 

8 comments:

julie said...

Amen.

Rick said...

"There are times when I don’t feel very faith-y. I feel beaten. I can’t see any point to my life at all. I’m just here, and I’m hurting, and it just doesn’t make any sense to keep going."

I hope now isn't one of those times.
Being away for awhile, I'm not sure if I'm up with all that's been going on. Anyway, if it is one of those times - prayers for you and yours, brother.

I know with myself (if I could only learn) I often, what amounts to, react as if God's out to get me. Which is a pretty low opinion of God. When will I ever learn, I would like to know.

John Lien said...

But I know, deep down, at some level, that’s when you beat the devil. That’s when you become an overcomer. That’s when you are walking in victory. It doesn’t matter how it feels, how dark it is, or how it looks. It doesn’t even matter how it ends. All that matters is getting up and going on.

Yeah, that.

"And when the bottom fell out I became withdrawn, the only thing I knew how to do was to keep on keeping on, down the avenue..."

mushroom said...

I'm glad you're back, Rick. I'm doing OK, but I'm always appreciate you praying for me.

That "low opinion of God" -- He is trying to draw something out of us.

I'll bet I heard "Tangled Up in Blue" everyday for the last three semesters I was in college. Probably why I'm so warped today, but it still rings true.

Don Johnson said...

Good post, Mush.

It's weird, but I was a lot more apt to quit before my dark night of the soul. After it eased up the 'getting up and going on' sort of became second nature. Or maybe even first nature.

I still don't understand it and no longer care to. There's an odd joy in knowing less and less as I approach the end.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

" It happens, and when it does, the only answer I know is to not quit."

You hit a homerun with this post, Mushroom!
It requires some real fortitude to not quit and to keep gettin' back up.

Sometimes that's about the only thing goin' through my mind: "I will not quit!"
And it still works, thank God.

I think God puts that seed of fortitude in us, and during tough times that seed grows if we don't quit.
It may not feel like our fortitude grows but it does, how can it not?

That's what stand fast is made of.

Rogelio Bueno said...

Good word.
None of us make it through this life without our share of scars. Some more than others. Richard Wurmbrand said in "Tortured for Christ" that when when his socialist "reformers" had beaten and drugged him to the point that he could not even remember the words, "My grace is sufficient for you", that it was then that His grace was.
I'm with you, sometimes all I know to do is trust God and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

mushroom said...

Thanks, guys.