How good it would be if life was straightforward without complications and mess. Life can be messy.
Timothy Keller once wrote these simple words: “People are messy; therefore, relationships will be messy. Don’t be surprised by messiness.” And we need to remind ourselves of that truth each day – otherwise life gets very difficult. I’m glad I married someone who doesn’t like mess around her – especially in our home. I can be a messy person. But I think she understands.
Life doesn’t always turn out the way we imagined, does it. Parents get old and don’t remember what to do next. Children have health issues that make you really wonder about God’s mercy. Life events drain bank accounts, families argue, and souls hurt. And we’re still expected to go on each day as if everything is alright, when in reality, it’s not. Life is messy. Things happen out of our control and without warning.
Waiting on the Lord
Psalm 27:14 says “Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage”. Waiting isn’t easy, especially when things are hard and messy. What do we do when life gets messy? At such times it’s pretty easy for our lives to get off the track. It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture, or to forget about the long-range plan. At such times we long for some stability, for an anchor in the storm which our life has become. We sometimes feel, as many a song has sung, “lost and alone.” We long to be found. It’s like no-one really understands how we feel, even our closest friends don’t get it. It’s like living in a fog. We question our innermost ideals. We feel that we might not be able to go on. We lose the sense of joy that we normally have in our work and our leisure, even in the things we love the most. We feel this at a gut level, but it can also happen at the intellectual level. We say, what is the point? We say, does it really matter?
Dick Gilbert’s prayer speaks to me:
It is hard to pray when wind and rain and thunder
Plague our every step and spoil our every plan.
It is hard to be virtuous when life assaults us,
And our very being is a pilgrimage from bad to worse.
It is hard to be happy when pain and fatigue beset us,
And we wonder if we can go on.
It is hard to do good when we suffer for our efforts,
And are troubled because we have been misunderstood.
I think there’s something to be said about the purpose of religion and of a religious life. It’s to put aside a store of such resources and to create a pattern in our lives which will sustain us when life gets messy. It is to build a foundation which will not be shaken when the winds of trouble blow upon us. Our religious practice can be a shelter from the wind when the candle of our faith flickers and threatens to go out.
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Strange – but when we have lost our faith, then our faith is most essential. It can hold us until we find the path again, until the candle of our faith again burns bright, until our hope returns. But if you have never prepared for such a dark day, it will be very difficult to survive. It is what we do during the good times that can help us to survive the messy times.
Walk With God in Good and Bad Times
Too often people turn to religion only during the bad times, and I fear they are usually disappointed. It is those who have set up a store for the wintery times of life during life’s summer times, who will find most help there. Prepare yourself in good times by trusting God, and He will be with you in the messy times.
Remember three things:
- You are never out of God’s sight.
- You are never out of His reach
- And you are never away from God’s tender care.
He loves you very much. That never changes even when life gets uncomfortable and messy.
You might feel today you are stuck out in the middle of nowhere far away from God’s watchful eye – but that’s not true. He knows your situation and what you’re going through. Whenever you are in a tough spot, remember He is close by. God does care for you in the midst of a storm and we need to trust His purposes even when we don’t understand what they are.