Sometimes the best thing we can do is just the next thing.
We live out our faith by matching socks, instead of recounting our pain. We mock death and Satan by doing the dishes instead of crying in our soup. We pick up our sword by laughing at suppertime instead of staring off into the what-if’s of the future. We trust and obey by kissing fat cheeks.
When all of life is winter, what’s left to do but take the hill? Put on boots, walk in the snow and let the wind burn my cheeks on the way down. Be exhilarated, chuckle when you realize the snow went all the way up your pant leg. Go so fast that the tears of living run sideways out of your eyes.
I’m not commending some kind of pull yourself up by your boot straps and shove the pain away kind of getoverit-ism. Real people have real sorrows and they need to really grieve. I’m simply saying: what then? We must live.
Sin is like a noose around our necks. It wants to tighten and tighten and paralyze us. Sometimes trials act the same way. God gives us something big: a hardship, an unasked for difficulty and it just squeezes us so tightly that we can’t think about anything else! Pretty soon, it starts taking over our identity. Our trials can become badges we wear that let everyone know: this is who I am. It’s a precaution really, it’s like we want our fragility to be acknowledged, upheld. So we wear our suffering. We hold on to it and protect it. We dare not smile or talk about the weather or people might think we’re OK.
I’ve had this little song in my head that we used to sing growing up, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” It always struck me as simplistic, cliched even. But God’s not afraid of a cliche, when there’s truth to be mined from it. Sometimes a cliche is just the thing to keep us from taking ourselves and our suffering too seriously.
Obedience and trust bring so much freedom. Trusting God that He’ll hold onto this trial for me. That I can come up for air and shock my 6 year old with my air guitar skillz and let out a belly laugh in the face of something scary. So often, I’ve no idea what to do in this unchartered place, but there is security in obeying.
I won’t presume to tell someone else they should be happy in their suffering. There are different kinds of trials and different kinds of people. There is intense acute pain, and there is the chronic long haul, of which we find ourselves. Wisdom is knowing that love is a tailored thing. But I will presume to tell myself to be happy. And there is one way for me to get to that happiness: trust and obey.
Trust God, trust His plans, His love, His commands. Match socks, do dishes, get a cup of coffee and explain long division, again. Laugh. This is your life, your portion, your work, your joyous children, your special child. Trust and obey and LIVE because that’s what Jesus does. Sing it with me, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow..”