I have been really heavy hearted lately, at times to the point of being overwhelmed. The hardest thing for me about it has been that it hasn't even been about my own situation, it's been about other situations around me.
I know there are a lot of empathetic folks out there, who know what I am talking about, the sense of carrying the burdens of others. Some of my dearest friends are people like this and I have had a close-up enough view to know, it's never been a gift I've wanted. And I do believe it's a gift because it compels you to pray, in a way that is far more undeniable than good intention. But the downside of it is knowing when to let go, or worse at times, the inability to feel released from the compulsion.
It's not that I haven't always cared about situations around me, it's just that I have in my make-up always been more of a thinker than a feeler. I have always been able to look at things around me with a more detached and logical perception rather than an emotional one. It's mostly worked well for me. Though I will be honest with you, it hasn't always been one of my most endearing qualities. It makes me color blind to "grays" in life and causes me to be far more focused on the "black and white" assessment of situations. I see and call the sin as sin, judgment often outweighs mercy, etc. I'm the girl in the room who if you really want it broken down and hear the truth, come see me. On the other hand, if you aren't ready for the truth, I'm the last person you want to even be around, because my sheer presence will probably make you uncomfortable, even if I am holding my tongue.
I actually think the fact of the matter is that becoming a little "grayer" and a little more emotionally connected is part of a maturing process in me. Jesus was a man of grace and compassion, empathy... as it grows in me, it makes me a little tiny bit more like Him.
I'm just going to be honest with you, I hate it. It's not who I am comfortable being, and carrying pain for others is really hard. And like I said, as of late, it's been weighing me down. It's been weighing me all the way down to my knees, which again, qualifies as a good thing.
So last night at church I was feeling pretty emotional, and more for the suffering of others than for myself. I know people who are sick, broken, lost, drifting... some at the cost of their own choices, but most of them out of circumstances beyond their control. As I was overwhelmed and thinking about it as worship began last night, revelation came.
One of the people I know who is suffering is very sick, and she's tired of fighting. Her illness has a direct effect on someone who is very dear to me. Yesterday as I spoke with my loved one, she was talking about trying to understand what God was doing in this situation. She was assuring me (and perhaps herself) that she knew God was working and had a purpose, but as I listened, I could almost sense this sentiment that God had somehow given this horrible disease to her friend. And everything in me wanted to shout "STOP!"
So back to my revelation. I was thinking about some people I care about who I know are innocents in a situation and they are suffering. My heart breaks for them, and I was hurting for the injustice upon them that I see. I know many prayers have been made on their behalf, laboriously, even my own, but the situation seems hopeless. And as I stood there, I was crying out inside, not knowing what to do with the grief I feel for them. And then, I felt the Lord say, "Rejoice in my goodness."
Seems simple enough, and yet somehow so profound. The Lord IS good. It is one of the few things in life upon which we truly can "rest assured." God is good, all the time.
James 1:16-17 says, "Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning."
There is no darkness, or even uncertainty in who God is, and what His intentions toward us are. He is the Giver of every good gift, and that never changes.
In Psalm 139:5-6 it says about God, "You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it." This is sincerely one of my favorite verses because of the wonderful imagery it brings. His covering goes before us and "protects our back," and just to completely cover us, He lays His whole hand upon us.
It made me realize, that whatever we as His children may face, has come to us through His filtering. It isn't just that He pours out his blessing upon us, but also any struggle or challenge we face, has only come to us through His protective covering.
He is not a God who has lost control, and watches from a distance panicked because we have somehow been snatched from Him. John 10:27-30 says, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”
Neither is he a cruel God beating down upon His children. Does He discipline? Yes, but even so He disciplines in love and for our benefit. There is no "shadow of turning" in our God, He is not arbitrary or mercurial, He is solid and consistent, and His goodness never changes.
He is neither distant nor unconcerned. And the lie that "He won't give us more than we can bear," is wiped away by the truth that His intention has always been to carry our burdens for us. He is the God of the "Footprints" poem who walks beside us, carrying us through our hard times in life. He is real, and near, and intimately at hand.
Everything we face is Father-filtered. So no matter what challenge we may face, what harm or injury may befall us in this broken, fallen world, we can have confidence that it has not been allowed to touch us but through the safe and loving hands of our Daddy God, and He can be trusted.
Sometimes in the midst of emotion, struggle and loss, we have to find ourselves drawn to a bottom line. And the bottom line is simply this, do you believe that God is a good God? Because He is, He is always and unfailingly, and assertively so, A GOOD GOD. If you are His you have that assurance that He has you, safely, protectively covered and cared for. You are His and He is for you, and your life is wonderfully and assuredly Father-filtered.
Whatever you face today, diagnosis, debt, divorce, delay; even if it is not your own burden, but you like me suffer watching the hurt of another, remember, rest assured, God is good. If He has your heart, you have His promise, and the goodness of your Lord is enough, it's all we have, but gloriously, it is all we need. God is good.