I had a moment a couple of nights ago where, after a long bout of ugly crying before the Lord, I began to think about the last couple of days I had just walked through. Let's just say I would wake up one morning feeling like I've seen the mountaintop and end the day feeling like I've made my bed in the grave. Or, I would take five steps forward one day only to get pushed back ten steps the next. And, on and on it went, fluctuating between good days and bad days. And, I found myself in an intense moment of prayer, weary from it all.
However, after one (or two, or three...) ice cream sandwiches and splashing some water on my face, I began to move past my hard questions and frustration and came to a place that I believe I was supposed to go all along. It was a place of deep revelation and conviction, where I found myself saying aloud:
"You know what, Yana? I'm glad it's bad."
You'll have to give me today's post to explain myself.
Because the last thing I would've ever expected myself to say is that I'm glad about the storm I'm walking through, that I'm glad it sucks and the gray clouds are still pouring out rain. You kidding me? My default setting is to complain when I'm going through a tough time, not rejoice!
And, that's exactly what I was doing that night during my moment of prayer with the Lord—complaining! Having the "Why-me?" self-talk, and playing the "Why-aren't-You-doing-anything?" blame game. Your girl was not throwing a party over the discouragement I was feeling!
Until a lightbulb went off, and I realized something:
The pain is helping me more than it's hurting me.
Even further, the pain is saving my life.
I remember hearing one author who I really admire talk about the way she's learned this lesson after being rushed to the hospital. She had a condition that had gotten worse over time, and the only way she found out about it was when she underwent an incredible amount of sudden pain. The pain was what brought her into the emergency room, under a doctor's care. In other words, if the pain wasn't as excruciating as it was, her condition would've killed her before she had the chance to take care of it.
And, I realized the very same for my case.
If my condition didn't hurt me as bad as it did, I would've never gotten serious about dealing with it, bringing it to prayer. My pain pointed to things in my heart that never belonged. But, because it hurt me, now I'm aware enough to take care of it! Therefore, what's worse than being in pain is being comfortable with the condition you are supposed to get rid of. The pain is there to let you know that something negative in your life needs your attention.
And, that, reader, is why I'm glad it's bad because it's a chance for me to get better.
And, whatever your "it" is, the same goes for you!
Because while we can play it safe and not get too specific, we all have an "it" that's bad.
Your "it" could be a type of illness.
"It" could be a relationship. (I've been there!)
Your "it" might be a habit.
"It" could be your desires or motives.
Whatever your "it" may be, if it's going bad right now, you can rejoice because you now have the opportunity to get better.
James 1:2-4 says it best:
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."
Notice how James made it very clear that we should rejoice in troubles of ANY kind.
Key word: ANY.
Meaning, you can fill in the blank.
Whatever "it" is, whatever trial or trouble you're in, James does not exclude it when it comes to rejoicing.
"But, how can I possibly rejoice when it's this bad?" you may ask.
Well, for the purpose of today's post, I'm going to point us to a way we can rejoice that stands true for all of us—no matter what.
Because while all of our situations may vary, the joy that's found in the presence of Jesus Christ is offered the same to us all.
This isn't my way of dismissing your very real pain and very serious situation. This is my way of giving you the only thing I know that works:
Rejoicing in Jesus.
I'm serious! Don't knock it 'til you try it.
Psalms 16:11 says that His presence brings fullness of joy, and earlier in verse 8 reveals that He's always with us. And, if He's always with us and joy is wherever He is—
We have every opportunity to rejoice in Him.
If you don't consider that as good news for yourself, I'm taking it as good news for me, because some days I have really good moments, and others I have really bad moments.
But, Jesus? No matter the day, the time, the place...
Jesus is always good.
And, that's why I can rejoice no matter the circumstance because I'm rejoicing in Him, not in "it."
So, I'm glad it's bad.
I'm glad it hurts.
I'm glad it's uncomfortable.
I'm glad it's gotten so bad I can't even live with it anymore.
Because not only am I in perfect position to get better, but I still have the opportunity to rejoice in Jesus even if my situation doesn't get better.
In other words, "it" may not necessarily get better, but I will. And, if it weren't for the pain of it all, I would've let my faith stay at the level it's been for years. I would've never gotten stronger. So, I'm glad it's bad because I'm going to get better. And, I can still be glad when it's bad because God is always good. And, because He is good, He already promised to turn my bad into good. Then, when the good comes, it can get even better because of everything I've learned while it was bad.
So, thank God it's hard! Thank God it hurt me enough I had no choice but to get help. Thank God He let me see that something was wrong so I can seek the wisdom and the counsel to make it right.
And, while I wish you would join me in rejoicing, I refuse to overlook those of you who still feel like you can't—for those of you who aren't glad it's bad, and are, in fact, pretty sad about it, or still in pain, or angry. It doesn't make you less than to feel this way, or immature, or not as "optimistic" as everyone else.
It just makes you human.
And, God knows you're human already. He knows that it really is challenging. But, even more, He wants you to know who He is too. And, when you come to find out that He really is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, you might find it a little easier to take joy in Him and experience His goodness transform your heart.