Thursday, June 20, 2013

On Faith and Peace

Can we talk about faith for a minute?

These past couple of weeks have been tough.  I sort of alluded to that last Monday when I wrote about some tough news I received.  What you may not know is that three days later, Thursday brought troubling news of its own.  And now here I am in this awkward place between faith and...who even knows what.

In the story I told on Monday about tough news from the Friday before, I mentioned that I had some peace almost instantly.  After, you know, an appropriate amount of wrestling and praying and irrational overreaction and complete reliance on myself only to come to the end of myself and find more than enough of Jesus.  The same is true about Thursday's news - I had an almost instant sense of peace.  And strength.  And I felt like this was the time to be strong.  Because I already felt like I knew how this ended.

It hasn't ended yet, in either case.  That's ok.  There's nothing wrong with the time in-between, nothing wrong with this place I'm in now.  Except that my faith is kind of conflicted and it's hard to know what the appropriate response of God's child is this morning.

The first bit of tough news really affects only me.  It's my mess and I'm going to have to clean it up or sit in it or work it out or decide, I guess, that it isn't so much of a mess after all.  While I'm playing it through with the other parties involved, as far as my direct life is concerned, it's mine to deal with.  Yet I know that people are watching to see what's going to happen.  And I hope they're waiting to see how God is going to pull this one off.  And I hope I'm not getting in the way of that.

Because I know God's answer to Friday's problem: whether or not He takes care of it, He will take care of me.  While I want to be very clear about the glory of God in this situation, I don't want to pinhole Him into taking care of it when that's not what He promised.  So I'm coming to terms with the idea that God's victory may be a change in me, all earthly circumstances aside.  He may not take care of it; that may not be the glory that the world is going to see through this.  I may be the glory.  The answer is, I don't know yet.

But in the meantime, I am trying to demonstrate faith and not worry.  Confidence and not cowardice.  Easy-going instead of going hard.  I want to show the peace I have about whatever way God chooses to work this out and weave Himself in to yet another one of my stories.  At the same time, I'm frustrated.  I'm tired and I'm ragged and I'm raging and I'm defeated.  I'm wondering why it's not enough to be right and how one little woman fights a system so much bigger than herself.  I want the whole thing to move a little faster - a lot faster - and just resolve already.  I'm not as good at this in-between as I want to be and the longer I'm here, the more I feel myself torn between the sense of peace I have about however it turns out and the exhausted frustration of not seeing how it turns out yet...with absolute, though sometimes quivering, faith in the One who promised to take care of me.

Thursday's news was a little more widespread.  It's not just me.  In fact, it's barely me.  It's news that only plays on my heart, yet here I am finding myself in this place where, again, I feel like I need to be strong and show faith.  Because I know the answer here, too.  I know the words God has whispered in my ear about Thursday's news, and I have a certain measure of peace about what's going on.  But I'm the only one.

And here I am worried but not worried, concerned and involved but not exactly captivated by what appears to be going on.  I am trying to demonstrate faith here, too.  At the same time, I'm stressed.  I'm exhausted.  I'm questioning my own strength.  I'm questioning the way the world makes some people have to be strong again and again and struggle their entire lives...and I'm questioning why some people can't ever seem to have a moment when they don't have to fight.  I'm questioning what I can do and the answer is that I can be strength - I have mentioned before that in the toughest of times, I am this insane ability to remain calm and be a rock - and the answer is also that I'm broken down.  I'm crushed by the weight of yet another bad news, even though I have this firm peace within my heart that bad news will be good news.  Just none of us know when.

The conflict I have with faith right now, the tensions between faith and frustration, between peace and persecution, is that in these two situations at least, I feel like I know the end of the story but I still have to write the tale.  I know where the victory is but I still have to fight.

And that sucks.  Right?  It does.

So my thoughts on faith this morning are this: how do you fight in faith when by faith you know where the victory is?  How do you demonstrate faith and that confident peace that comes from knowing Who's got the win when the very tangible reality is that the fight is breaking you down?  And why do you have to fight at all?  If the victory is coming, what good is there in the fight?  Can't you just wait for the win?

Rhetorical questions, you might have guessed.  Questions with which I have wrestled for the past couple of weeks, this time around.  Questions I think I may expound on a little more tomorrow and tell you what's in the fight in the face of faith and why wins, even promised wins, don't come easy.  In the meantime, my goal today is just to keep the faith. 

And pursue the peace.

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