Sunday, July 22, 2007

the simplicity of despair

I'm not proud of this, but the emotion that I've struggled with the most since I entered my foxhole has been despair. (Newer emergesque readers won't know about the "In the Foxhole" Series.) The whole point of the foxhole series was that such despair is unwarranted in the clear and more certain light of revealed truth, but my common addiction to mere temporalities has meant that I've had to fight against this debilitating emotion.

But some time ago, I began asking God if perhaps I had learned all that I was going to learn through this pain (not that I claim full insight into whatever He may be doing by allowing my circumstances) and perhaps He would be pleased to just fix the situation!

Amazingly, one week ago today it seemed that God was pleased to grant me my request in a major breakthrough in my situation. I still don't completely trust it, but so far, so good.

And I feel kind of lost.

I've mentioned this before, but this past week I've definitely experienced it: when you are in the midst of a very troubling situation, it's easy to define your happiness around the resolution of that situation. It is, of course, a fiction that our deepest happiness will result from any financial, relational, medical, vocational, etc. breakthrough, but when you spend so much time focusing on these kinds of problems , it can be easy to have faith that their resolution will bring true happiness. It's lead to my thinking about Paul's remark:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)
Paul's point, of course, is that Christ must be our sufficiency in plenty or in want.

And so I am sobered and encouraged to renew my efforts to find my sufficiency in Him. He must be my all in loss and in gain. I must be reliant on Him when things are going great and when they're not. A poet has written,"my place is of the light; this place is of the dark." We must hold this place lightly and keep our eyes ever fixed on things above (Col. 3:1). As Malcolm Muggeridge has written in his wonderful Chronicles of Wasted Time, "It is misers and Don Juans who moan; spendthrifts and saints are always laughing."

I preach, of course, to myself as I try to learn that life is not finally defined by whether I am in or out of the foxhole.

- the complete "In the Foxhole" series

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