(My journal entry from yesterday, March 3rd)
Something so simple hit me like kind of a "duh" moment in my reading. Brennan Manning points out that Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened" because He KNEW there would be times of being tired and discouraged. It wasn't just an exhortation to the emotionally downtrodden or the poor. It was a reminder, a signpost for all of us to come to Him every time we are discouraged and weary. No one can walk through it with us the way Jesus can. My own journey has been living, solid proof of that.
"Come to me." Not because He will make it all better or because He will always reveal some miraculous plan for you to follow. You may still have to walk through every last thing. But come to Him because He will sustain you. He will give you strength and comfort. He will give you a peace that is beyond your comprehension and is even a little but puzzling. You're in the midst of craptasticness! Why should you feel peace? Because you've gone to Jesus as he asked and said, "Lord, I cannot carry this burden alone. I need help." And he does.
Henri Nouwen calls us to embrace all of our past - good and bad - because all of it has brought us to where we are now. Nothing happened outside of God's notice or His love. Even the things we are not grateful for having experienced need to be looked at - and looked at with God's eyes and NOT ours. Through the good and bad events in our lives, we can be brought to "a deeper recognition of God's mercy, a stronger conviction of God's guidance, and a more radical commitment to a life in God's service." But to do so, I think we have to let go of the fear, shame and anger that comes from the bad experiences. It is easy to thank or praise God for good experiences, for the ones we perceive as blessings or gifts. To embrace the bad, I think we have to give up the "why?". Why did this happen to me? Why do I have to deal with this? That is in no way an easy thing to do but getting stuck on "why" narrows my field of vision to me and only me. There is no larger context because I have made myself the center of my universe. By going to Jesus ("come to me...") and laying my need to know why, to understand what is happening to me at His feet (again and again if necessary and I know it has been for me at times), I gain a larger perspective.
It doesn't happen all at once. It may be slowly and over time. But I realize that I am in this alone. God has provided not only Himself and His Son but resources to help me, His Word and fellow Christians being chief among them. I may never know "why" but "why" has become less important as I seek God's guidance and rely on His strength to go through whatever is in front of me.
Rom 12:12 - "Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and always be prayerful."