I knew I was in trouble when I rolled over.
Because when I rolled over at around 5:00 this morning, the whole room rolled over with me and I was slammed with a pounding headache and upset stomach. And a big ol’ knot in my chest.
I dragged myself out of bed and to my desk to start the day, but ended up dragging myself to my recliner and trying to sleep some more. No Go. After an hour or so, I moved back to my desk to send my routine early morning work emails–letting everyone know what teleconferences are on tap for today. That’s when I remembered:I have a 5 hour teleconference this afternoon. Noon-5:00. During which I must take detailed notes. Ugh.
I think I’ll be able to do it, because as long as I don’t move, I can tough it out. I can sit here and type this out, but when I look across the room–wow–everything spins and tips. I wonder if this is what vertigo is like? I don’t know, I’ve never had it before.
If you’ve read any of my Facebook posts this week, you know we had a difficult time with Beth’s surgery. She really was rough there for a few days. She is SO much better now. Finally sleeping through the night, even eating a few bites of ramen, mac and cheese, jello. She still can’t talk very well, but she’s moved herself from the percocet to tylenol and is doing very well. She will be ready to return to school Monday. The most miraculous thing about her surgery, like I thought it would be, is her newfound ability to breathe. It’s amazing. Once she’s able to speak again, I wonder if it will change her voice.
But I honestly feel completely defeated this morning. Do you ever feel that way? Like hope is absence, like just the circumstances of life here on this earth–sicknesses, bills, broken vehicles, divorces, deaths of loved ones, loss of employment–threaten to become a tidal wave that swallows us up, leaving no trace behind that we were even ever here.My discouragement is deep today. And on the days that discouragement is deep, it seems that doubt is even deeper. I’m listening to my Spotify Worship Play List in the background and just about every song I hear myself saying “Yes, but is that truth?” “Does God see and know?” “Does He forgive, even me?” “Is God bigger than fear?”
So, in a few words, I am very goofed up today. I had prayed for a solid night of sleep, and instead it was a short night with being awake from midnight to about 2:00, then up at 5:00. And of course, I question why would God not answer the simple prayer for sleep? If he gives sleep to his beloved (Psalm 127:2), does He not love me? I know He must, there are evidences all around me. But in the middle of the night, it’s amazing how stirred up one’s mind can get.
I’ve just begun studying James, in preparation to teach it this Summer to the ladies at our church. (you can take a look at the commentary I’m using HERE-it’s been very helpful alongside scripture) I’m only a couple of verses into the first chapter, and I’ve already written several pages of very personal notes–documents that are closed. But I want to share with you the first few verses, because I think they apply here to where I’m at, and maybe to where you are at as well today:
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways
Let’s look at this closer. “Count it all joy, my brothers (and sisters!), when you meet trials of various kinds.” Count it as joy—number it as joy. Count what as joy? The meeting of trials of various kinds. Wow. I certainly have not been able to say today that I will be joyful in this sickness, in the bills, in the lack of sleep, in the long teleconference I have this afternoon. I’ve not counted it joy that it is spring break and I’ve not been able to do anything fun for my crew. But this says it should all be counted as joy–various trials. I’ve had much more difficult trials than the trials of this week. But the trials of this week are dragging me down right now, creating doubt and fear.
The second part of the passage reads “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness–and let that steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”But why must our faith be tested? Taking a test is no fun. Being tested is no fun. I was recently traveling from ATL to Warner Robins, GA, and during the drive I was “tested” on the Air Force acronyms–and I failed miserably.
But what I see in what James is saying, is that we should welcome these trials with joy because such testing produces steadfastness.When I look at it that way, and when I consider that the words are truth, I know that what I desire is steadfastness. I desire the kind of faith that remains rock solid throughout life on this earth, no matter what trials may come. Why do I want to be steadfast? Because I want the following in my life: Firm in purpose, unwavering, eyes fixed forward.These are the definitions of Steadfastness.
But the author of James realizes that we don’t always understand the reason for these trials and testings. In fact, most of the time we do not understand. The author goes on to say “If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all….” How often I lack wisdom. But honestly I rarely ask God for wisdom. It’s not something I think to do. Do you? In my study of these verses, that stood out plainly to me. I ask God “Why?” I ask God for “relief”. I ask God for “sleep”. But I don’t ask God for wisdom. Why is that? I think it may be related to the next verses:
I am to ask God in faith, with no doubting. I think that’s one of the reasons that I don’t ask for wisdom, is because I doubt so often, and my faith is so small, that I don’t believe He will actually give me that wisdom. I’m afraid that this verse describes me very well—like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. Unsteady. Not steadfast. Doubtful.
Maybe you did or didn’t see the horrific sports injury that Kevin Ware suffered in the basketball game this past weekend. Good grief. It was one of those moments when your heart completely breaks for another human being. What would this mean? Could he lose his leg? Could he lose his career? I had instant flashbacks to when I broke my leg. Oh, how I hurt for him! It was that catastrophic. And yet this is what he told CNN:
“This is all God. This is all God’s plan. He would never let anything happen that He wouldn’t want to happen,” he told CNN.
Wow. That’s faith. Am I willing to say the same thing about trials in my life–even the every day trials such as deep depression and discouragement? Are you willing to muster up that kind of courage and faith to get through your trials–to get through the days given to you?
Below is a 3:00 minute clip of the interview with Kevin Ware where he speaks of his faith in God. Without using these words, he basically declares God’s sovereignty. Watch it. Watch it and then take a look at asking God for wisdom–and for the faith to be able to ask for wisdom–so that ultimately we can count all things as joy.