Recently, the Holy Spirit urged me to get in the quiet for a couple of weeks. I needed to shut off social noise, stop writing, and enjoy life without everything that made it habitual. This rest was rejuvenating and necessary. I found I loved my life apart from my work, apart from all that social noise.
But in this quiet, God was also preparing me for battle. Though, I could not see it then.
For all of August, the Holy Spirit laid 1st and 2nd Corinthians deep into my heart. I had no true idea why. I loved 2 Corinthians 1:3-5–
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be ale to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ, we share abundantly in comfort too.
I have known this comfort in the last 9 years of chronic pain, but also in the last few years of pain nuanced in ways that’s hard to explain. I basked in the beauty of these verses. I had already experienced the truth of them, but had no desperate need for these verses when I read them early in August.
I also loved 2 Corinthians 4:7-11–
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live, are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
I especially loved the words, “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair.” I have lived this out in my own life, experiencing the triumphant healing and joy of God. Reading these verses seemed to be a stunning echo to my life.
Little did I know, it would be my battle cry very soon.
I stayed in the quiet. I asked myself good questions. I listed out the unlikely good gifts from God. I wrote down ways I could minister to others through my pain which has been transformed by God. I worked through 1st & 2nd Corinthians.
And all the while, I had no idea Jesus was preparing my way. He was going before me.
The end of August came like a tidal wave. Emotions I didn’t want to feel. Circumstances I didn’t expect. At a time that looked cruel. Feeling unseen by God.
I felt numb. Wanted to stay numb.
I prayed, “God, show me that You see me!” (Demanding, I know.)
Still. . .
God’s mercies are new every morning. And He had mercy on me. I am seen by God. He made it clear the next day in a mid-morning Sunday service. I didn’t even want to be there in the first place. But there I was. And there was mercy. And I am seen by God.
Less than two days later, I realized I am in spiritual warfare. God is fighting for me. And He is fighting with me. Anything that seemed unfair beforehand is suddenly very clearly warfare. A testing of faith. A summons to hope.
And it’s not only mercy I have received, but extravagant grace.
Because while I desperately prayed, “SHOW ME THAT YOU SEE ME!” God had spent the weeks prior preparing me in advance, reminding me of His comfort, giving me a place to turn to when my heart crashed apart. God has gone before me in ways I cannot fathom. Answering my humanly-soaked prayer far before I even prayed it.
While my porch garden yields new life at the end of August likes it’s the first few days of spring, I hold fast to 2 Corinthians 1:9-10–
“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will deliver us again.”
It’s September now, and I’m still holding fast while new garden life is growing fast.
And I have been called to battle. Called to hope. Called to deeper faith. In the morning, I pray, “but on God who raises the dead.” In the desperate, shaky breath, I pray, “GOD RAISES THE DEAD.”
I stand in the graveyard of things I have laid down and things I am grieving. But I look up.
BECAUSE GOD RAISES THE DEAD.
And He will raise this brokenness, this struggle to hope, this battle to endure. . .and make life.
This is a story of being seen. Of being delivered. Of being whole. Of being made holy. Of being a child. Of being a warrior. Of being given good things.
It’s a story set in a graveyard, but settled in hope.