An Oddish Struggle: Doubt

“When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of ‘No answer.’ It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like ‘Peace, child; you don’t understand.’” –C. S. Lewis in A Grief Observed

An Oddish Struggle

Dear readers, did you think I had forgotten about you?  While I technically posted on January 1, WordPress counted the post as on December 31, 2014.  So, for all intents and purposes, this is my first blog post of the new year. I apologize for my absence. But this blog post will explain why I was gone and why I’m posting again. In these six months, I have struggled with a constant procrastination cycle. (When I first wrote that last sentence, I was procrastinating on studying for a quiz. And I wrote most of this post in April, so that tells you how long it was before this went up.)

But, I’ve also been struggling with something deeper. I have known the Lord most of my life, but, for the past year and a half or so, I have been struggling with some sort of darkness/doubt/paradigm-wrestling stuff. This meant that, especially for many of the months of wrestling (until about two months ago), I didn’t feel, in good conscience, I could write very much that would be helpful because I was still figuring stuff out. I didn’t want to be dogmatic about anything that I wasn’t sure about and so lead you readers astray. Because I wasn’t sure what I was learning in my walk with Christ—because it was such a confusing and dark time—I didn’t know how to write or express myself. There was also the problem that, because of my confusion, what I was writing was not very “postable”—it was too raw to be of much help at this time to you readers or myself. The procrastination filled out the rest of my absence.

During this time, just about every morning, my boyfriend would send me a text, wishing me a good day, sending his love, and promising that he was praying. It was all we knew to do, besides my working through it with a very good support system . (Thank you to all of the friends and family members who were willing to have discussions with me, to pray with and for me, and for just letting me rant and/or be a little unreasonable. God used you all in great ways.) My boyfriend kept gently assuring me that he hated my suffering but that he knew there was a reason that would make me stronger; he looked me in the eyes and said that God wasn’t finished with me yet—and he did it in a way that wasn’t trite. (And, an aside, perhaps in our cultural quest to kill the trite, we have forgetten that trite sometimes can also mean true.  But that’s another post for another day.)

At some point during all this, I was also, for the first time in a while, finally able to read my Bible without fear of misinterpreting it. I decided at some point in the semester to read it through again, and I am slowly, slowly doing that. (Exodus has been surprisingly healing!) However, I began by peppering confusing/hard passages with passages about comfort.

One day, I forget just what happened (maybe it was the physical arrival of the beginnings of spring?), I began to feel at peace again. I saw the beginnings of true and lasting healing in my spirit. This is not to say that they weren’t (and aren’t) still dark days (or weeks).  But I turned a corner. God’s answer of, “Wait. I am still molding you, daughter—teaching patience in this trial” switched/glided to “This is why. Spring has arrived after this winter season.  Rejoice” (Song of Songs 2:10-12).

That being said, He is a Good Teacher, not the sadist my finite and fallen mind was making Him out to be. Did God trick me with my older, simpler, younger understanding of the depths of the gospel? Did having a deeper understanding make the simpler understanding false? Absolutely not! No more than when I simplify something for a tutoring student. I am not tricking him or her. I am giving him/her workable chunks. My winter season is God’s leading me to deeper understanding—to more solid food (1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:14).

As I deepen in physical adulthood age, spiritual maturity and nuance must come with that growing experience. And in the struggle, I found that I agreed with just about all that I had held onto previously, just with a few changes and places of and room for nuance. Christ is Lord.  His Word is authoritative and without error from cover to cover.  I need not be bound by legalism nor by lawlessness because of the work of Christ. His law is defined—is the outworking—of love, justice, and hope.  I am growing and changing in understanding; His Word remains constant (Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35). Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8)!!!!!!!!! And the delay that I hated in getting that peace is not the product of a bad God but a misuse of the instant gratification value of my culture.

Yet, I should note that this peace does not even mean constant peace.  It comes from expressing gratefulness (a truth which was made clear to me in Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling). My verse lately for all the struggles: patience, procrastination, and gratefulness comes from Ephesians 5; it has been a source of inspiration and comfort and conviction in the past and so, too, now:

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (vs. 15-21, ESV).

Remember, there is truth. There is good coming. Spring is coming. Resurrection and restoration are coming (Romans 8:22; 1 Corinthians 15). Jesus is coming back (see, for example, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11). And He is alive now, and gives us His Holy Spirit in this meantime (Matthew 28:6; John 14:16). God is not bound by the instant gratification of our culture in working things out.  In fact, he “is not slow. . .as some count slowness”—but is slow for merciful reasons—for respect of both the human propensity for stubbornness and the free will He gave us to love Him or not (2 Peter 3:9, ESV).  (No. This is not the predestination/free will conversation.)

Being oddish, then, is being qualitatively changed to be more and more like Jesus—you will stick out no matter the culture or ideology to which you subscribe. Jesus changes everything. And on that note, I wish this blog a happy 2nd birthday, almost three months late.

And, reader, I leave you with this:  Search for the truth.  As Susan Schaeffer Macaulay says, “We are not only seekers, but finders” (pg. 9). Search, be grateful, and even settle lightly on a firm understanding of convictions (Romans 14). There is freedom and hope and truth in Christ alone (John 14:6).

“‘[M]y soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.’” –Lamentations 3:17-18, ESV

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth in the dust—there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults. For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.” –Lamentations 3:21-33, ESV

“‘I called on your name, O LORD, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, “Do not close your ear to my cry for help!” You came near when I called on you; you said, “Do not fear!” ‘You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life.’” –Lamentations 3:55-58, ESV

Works Cited:

Lewis, C. S. Grief Observed, A. 1961. New York: HarperCollins-HarperOne, 2000. Print.

Macaulay, Susan S. “What Is Education?” For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education  for Home and School. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1984. 3-11. Print.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.

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