Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. -- Colossians 3:5
Monday, October 20, 2014
When the Long Night Comes
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.