Still, and Always, Enough
(Originally Posted here for Hearts Being Healed Ministry)
“God is here. We are loved. It is enough.”
–Kate Bowler, Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved
I’m just going to write it, right here, for anyone to read.
And it’s not easy, because it’s a hard thing.
I don’t feel like God is near.
Since that morning, with the sky darker than night and closing in, it was like something of His presence was removed from what I had grown used to beholding.
Instead, the Terrible Darkness was there.
And, for a moment, and many moments since, it felt like the darkness had overcome the light.
It didn’t, and hasn’t, but I still feel like something about God’s Presence has changed.
Knowing Scripture, however, I know that God doesn’t change.
He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
His love cannot be taken away from us by any means.
He promises that He will never leave or forsake us.
No, not ever.
He was born into this very world as Immanuel, God with us.
So what is this mysterious feeling, or lack there of, that I have?
I believe the psalmist would describe it in words like, “hide not your face from me (Psalm 143:7) and “my tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God? (Psalm 42:3)”
How to reconcile this feeling and these facts?
Is God near, despite the lack of any feeling, often of any evidence?
Has He hidden His face?
Gratefully, God is never limited to using humanity’s linear either-or way of thinking.
Also, He is not limited by my feelings.
Here, in this silence, there is something all together His own that He is doing.
The best way I can think to explain it is illustrated by a part I underlined in a book by Corrie Ten Boom a long time ago. I can still see the underlined page in my mind’s eye even if those pages have turned to dust. The concept of what she said, not the actual words, are what stuck in my heart.
She quoted from Psalm 91:1 :
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”
Corrie Ten Boom points out that, the closer God draws us, the darker the shadow may seem.
Here, I find myself using my imagination to understand this.
Perhaps it can best be described as what would happen during an embrace. A time of being so close to Someone, drawn into an embrace, and all you can see is their shoulder.
And so, instead of seeing this darkness as abandonment or as evidence that God doesn’t care or doesn’t exist, I can trust in His word, His promise, His faithfulness on the Cross. I can lean into a believing-trust that “even the darkness is not dark to you: the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. (Psalm 139:12)”
I have spoken many times on my four practices for staying the course and keeping a hardened heart away during hardship.
These four daily, sometimes hourly, acts are Adoration, Focus, Eucharisto (Giving Thanks), and Abiding.
I think, perhaps, God is drawing me into a deeper understanding of what these look like.
It can look shadowy, uncertain, and unfamiliar.
It can seem like the God you’ve known is now mysterious and unknown, because He is more than you can ever know and He is showing a different part of Himself.
And so, just maybe, you might be feeling this same feeling?
Just maybe you feel like the shadows haven’t lifted and that the God you thought you knew, you really didn’t know after all?
Maybe it seems as if you are in the very heart of trouble, and you are alone, hearing crickets more than you hear any answers to prayer.
It is here, in this place, where we get to choose.
We can turn and walk away, rejecting the shelter of the Most High that doesn’t look like we thought it would.
Or, we can “remember the days of old; ..meditat[ing] on all that [God] has done” (Psalm 143:5) and pray to “hear in the morning of [His] steadfast love” (Psalm 143:8).
We can take heart, holding on to the eternal truth that
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23).”
I read a letter recently written by Samuel Rutherford to a friend and he wrote this:
“…I am taught in this ill weather to go on the lee-side of Christ, and to put Him in between me and the storm….”
The “lee-side” means that he has learned to allow Christ to protect him from the storm, to stand behind Christ (perhaps, in His shadow!) and rest there in that promise of protection.
And here is peace for this moment and every moment after---the thing to hold tight to even now in the silence:
The hope of Christ is not limited to my feelings or understanding.
The hope of Christ is not limited to a storm-free and light-hearted life.
The hope of Christ is fortified in the storms and shines even brighter in impossibility.
It is here, in these quiet places, that we can experience His truest and most faithful grace.
Here is where we can learn that, no matter what we feel or what the world looks like, He is with us and He loves us and He has a good plan.
And so, quoting from a sermon at church recently, we can say that, “Even in the silence, His name rings out.”
And, we can also say (with confidence, strength and joy), the quote at the beginning of the post, “It is enough.”