Matthew 23: 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.
There is a temptation to those of us who grew up in the Church, a profound temptation – it is the temptation to whitewash our tombs, to clean the outsides of our cups, to make everything in our lives look pretty, to look “Christian” – even when the insides aren’t.
If you knew how easy it would be for me to pretend … But it would be SO easy. I know all the right answers. I know the right things to say, the right ways to say them. I’ve got this. But I want to be real. I don’t think it helps to be fake, and quite frankly I think it’s living a lie and perpetuating hypocrisy, which has driven so many from the Church.
So I’m dealing with a little anger right now. And that’s because I feel like I should talk about one part of my current experience and not talk about the rest of it.
Situation: Husband has been battling digestive issues and ill-health for quite a while. Took out gallbladder. Found out today it was necrotizing. So, yeah – he’s been off. Somehow, dying bits of your organs will do that to you. I have a lot of emotion surrounding the whole experience. I have a lot of emotion just today!
What I should say: “I know my husband will be healed completely!” “I am looking forward to God’s use of this time of trial in both our lives!” “I can’t wait to see how God will use this experience!” “God’s grace is sufficient for me”.
ALL OF THAT IS TOTALLY TRUE.
What is also true is that my husband has been off for a long time and I *knew* something was wrong, but I didn’t know what was wrong, and it was stressing me out. “Have faith”. Yes, good. I have faith that God will use all things for good. I don’t have faith that life will be lived on a bed of roses. Do I have to lie about how I’m feeling? I can cheerfully consent to God’s will in my life ***without*** saying, “and I know every minute will be happiness”. No. Every minute might be joy – because that’s a gift of the Holy Spirit. But not every minute is happiness. Does it have to be, for me to be a spiritually mature Christian?
Waiting for my husband’s surgery day was agony – for him, in the flesh, and me, emotionally. There turned out to be good reason why he had to wait. The day of his surgery much was arranged just perfectly… and I am grateful. But the extra hours in the hospital still sucked. Tensing for the blow that didn’t come … still sucked.
God uses awful things for good every day. Why should I be so special that something bad wouldn’t come into *my* life?
Do you think I haven’t been on my knees asking if there is something in my life that is out of order, some sin I need to renounce? I have a good pastor who teaches that we should ask, “what lesson do I need to learn from this trial?”. Do you think I haven’t been asking what the lesson is? Of course I’ve been doing that stuff. This ain’t my first rodeo, folks. But I don’t have the answers to those questions, at least not today.
Christian living is supposed to be about faith. If someone asked you to exchange your pain for someone else’s solace, your tears for someone else’s salvation – you’d say yes. But then it becomes something that YOU control. Something for which you take credit, not something for which you are given a crown. It loses the faith *in Christ*and replaces it with faith in your own ability to stick out a bad time. It changes your focus to yourself.
And so, I get grumpy. I know that all of this is for good, and that He will be glorified – but sometimes, things just suck. And sometimes I get stressed out. That doesn’t mean that I don’t know in my bones that God will provide, it means that my flesh can’t see how, and my flesh is freaking out.
If I try to say that I don’t have flesh, that I’m not in process, that being refined isn’t always fun… then I have to lie to you, and to me.
I won’t do it. I won’t lie to make you think that I’m something that I’m not. I won’t lie because I know what I “should” say. I want to tell the truth.
And the truth is – I trust God with everything, but sometimes life isn’t fun.