I have been alive 30 years (and a few days). I tried to avoid the passing days leading up to my 30th but the task had proven to be impossible. Daily I was being reminded that the day was soon coming that I say goodbye to my twenties and enter my thirties. I do not thrive in change (or the fear of change); it is easier to breed indifference and avoidance than address the root of emotion when change inevitably comes. Thirty doesn’t feel young as I have gained seconds and minutes on my runs, I don’t recover as quickly from a hard workout, my capacity is smaller than it used to be, and in the back of my mind I somehow believe I am not managing adulthood gracefully.
Birthdays are a maker of the reality that life has not turned out the way I wanted it despite my meticulous planning. It is a reminder of loss and triggers fear in ways I’m embarrassed to admit. We know life holds mountaintops and valleys and God is sovereign over it all, but when the valleys come in waves and leave no corner of our hearts and minds untouched, it can be comforting to find the deepest isolation and rest there permanently, praying we can bear it until we are on the mountaintop again. We know on the mountaintops that the Lord is the same because He is the only thing unchanging in this ever-changing world.
I’ve been studying the Trinity the past 6 weeks in my D-Group; it has consistently kept me in the book of John and this is what I have been reminded of: the Word of God and the Gospel offers living water even to those waiting by broken wells. I would not say my well is broken but it is a little chipped and fragments are definitely glued back together from the broken seasons.
John 5:2-9 accounts a man waiting for wholeness and healing while he watched other receive what he wanted:
Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another step down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
The Lord has been using this passage as a map of sorts and I am thankful for it. This passage is not prescriptive; it does not tell us how things should always happen. It is descriptive; it tells us what did happen. It shows that the man desperately tried to be healed how he felt as best but the Savior and Healer had a plan that demonstrated His power in a new way. The man had courage bare his heart, risking that he may sound crazy. It shows us that there is a common sickness in the hearts of man and how the Savior heals even the most diseased hearts.
Over the past 108 days, I have been asking the Lord to show me the way out of my selfishness and sin and into the way of trusting God with all my emotions, frailty, fear, and overall sadness of unmet expectations. I’d prayed for courage and bravery. I have prayed for hope and strength to vocalize my wants and needs to the Lord and to others. I have prayed for peace and the Lord to increase my faith. I have prayed for the power to hope knowing that I may be disappointed. I have prayed redemption over unmet expectations and the small funerals I have had along the way and asked for joy as things have turned out exactly how the Lord has seen fit.
I struggle with hope, I struggle with grace for myself (that Type One on the Enneagram run deeps), I struggle with seeing that the good and answered prayers for others don’t necessarily mean bad for me. I struggle with unknowns and timelines; I struggle with waiting for answers. I have cried tears over the passage of time and how growth happens at different paces for people. I struggle with the need for control to ensure safety for myself with back up plans and the stress when there are no plans set in place. I struggle not knowing what my summer days will be filled with and how I will ever reach some of my goals.
But there is always a quiet, pulsing comfort when I’m reminded, in no uncertain terms, that we don’t always get what we want, is we haven’t been promised most of whatever it is we want. None of them are promised. Name anything you want and haven’t yet got and there it is, your reminder that God does not promise our every desire: He promises us Himself and He is enough. In Psalm 145 He promises to satisfy the desire of every living thing and the heart of our desires is Him, which He has already given to us. This morning, I find myself comforted while reading Isaiah 9 because everything God has promised me is true. He is a God who keeps his promises and satisfies every desire. He is one in whom I find all the yeses and amens of the Father.
I heard somewhere recently that most people struggle with three main anxieties: the anxiety of being loved, the anxiety of being alive, and the anxiety of being faithful. I wish I could remember where I heard it so I could give proper credit but is has stuck with me since hearing it on a snowy January day. Fill in the blank of your anxieties and my guess is they will fall somewhere in there. We are so much more alike than we like to pretend in our self-centered world. As I have walked through and put words to my anxieties in the past few weeks, I am gently reminded by truth that His promises are good. I know that doesn’t seem to be a lot of comfort for all of us who are still waiting, on days And he is actually enough. Even when He doesn’t feel like it. Hope and His promises are guiding us through this life and we drink from the eternal and living that never runs dry.