A Prickly Desert Made of Molten Lava That Smells Like a Bog

I started out writing this about loneliness, but then it morphed into a general Sucko Times In Life Biblical How-To Manual, so here we are.

If you don’t have a relationship with Christ, I cannot even begin to imagine how you get through anything. I’m pretty sure…no, I am sure…that I would have killed myself by now. So let me start out by saying that, although having a divine, unconditional shoulder to cry on is not the focal point of a relationship with Jesus, it’s one of the amazing things that comes along with it. Life is hard and we don’t have to do it alone.

As Christians, I think most of us know, or at least have heard, that hard times are some of the best times in terms of spiritual growth. When everything else is stripped away and you’re left naked in the rain, all you can do is cry out to him to save you…and he does. But some of these times last a long time. Some of these times last for years, and it might seem like even God doesn’t care.

Here’s what I did. I’m not saying this is the right way, or the only way. I was twelve and I’d literally just decided to really follow Christ, so I was (and still am) a toddler in many ways. But I felt like I was drowning in everything that was going on, and the worst was that it was all inside me. When it’s outside you can at least shut out the world for a bit, but when it’s inside, you can’t escape it. So even though the rest of the Bible confused and bored me, I clung to the book of Psalms like it was the only thing keeping me from just giving up. Which, to be honest, it might have been. David knew a thing or two about being alone, about feeling like no one is standing for you, and about battle, both internal and external. Through the day, in class, during lunch, at home, in the middle of the night, I read the Psalms over and over. (I don’t recommend justifying bad grades to yourself by saying you were reading the Bible, just as a disclaimer, and I definitely should have paid more attention in class.) And, because the Word of God “is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12), and draws you in further whether you like it or not, I soon branched out to other books. Psalms (particularly 18, 28, 40, 42, 59, and most definitely 142), Isaiah, Jeremiah, Mark, Acts, Romans, Ephesians, and Revelation were almost literally my bread and water.

My point in all this is that, while we should always be immersing ourselves in God’s Word, going through the literal valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23) demands that we stick to our guns or get lost in the storm. Yes, you will emerge. But the more amazing thing is that while you’re going through the storm, you’ll find yourself in the eye of it, calm and safe and peaceful in the hands of God. Ironically, the reason why I began my real, personal relationship with Jesus with so much scripture under my belt is partly because of those really not happy four years. By the time God brought me to the other side of the tunnel, I’d furiously read (and clung to, in varying degrees) most of the New Testament and a good chunk of the Old Testament. It was intense and it was bad and it was hard, but standing on the other side, I wouldn’t have chosen any other way. God has a plan and his plan is best.

The important thing is to remember what God told you during the hard times, after the hard times have passed. He loves you more than words can describe (John 3:16, all of Song of Songs). He has made you free (Galations 5:1). You are part of the body of Christ, and every part is equally important (1 Corinthians 12:12-26). He knew every part of you, inside and out, and every day of your life, before the world was made (Psalm 139). He places the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6). And he has plans for you to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

“The greatest lie you’ve ever been told is that you’re the only one to ever walk on this road.” {tobyMac}

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