When Life’s Not Perfect

Several weeks ago I was sitting on my porch enjoying a quiet morning in God’s creation. It had been a long week. I was weary. I was exhausted. I was at the end of my strength. My porch is the place I love to sit and reflect. To enjoy creation and talk things over with my Creator. It’s my place to refuel and refresh. Then…I noticed it!

My perennial butterfly/hummingbird garden was looking a bit worn. It was so beautiful in the Spring. Flowers in every shape and color delighting bumblebees, butterflies and hummingbirds. But today…today it was tired. Some of the plants had lost their blooms, many were just barren, brown sticks. I was disheartened! Did you catch that it was a perennial garden? Perennial as in perpetual; everlasting; continuing. I had so enjoyed seeing the fruits of my labor from digging in the dirt the previous Fall. I really wanted it to stay pretty and perfect just as it had been in Spring.

It hit me. I like things comfortable and convenient (as I mentioned in last week’s devotion), but I like things perfect and PERMANENT. Not only do I want things beautiful and a perfect delight for my eyes, but I want them to remain in that state. I was reminded as I sat on the porch that day, my garden in full bloom is not something permanent. Days of ease and comfort are not permanent. It was disheartening at first, but then the Lord reminded me…if my garden remained in “permanent” Spring, I would miss all the beauty of the other seasons and I would not appreciate its beauty as much. And I was reminded that one day next Spring, my garden will bloom again.

As Christ-followers, there will be a Day when life will be comfortable, free of pain, suffering, decay and death. There will be a day when all blooms with eternal beauty. But we are living in a time of  “in between”. We are waiting between the time of Christ having come to deliver us from our sins through His death and resurrection on the cross, and His final return when we will experience the fullness of our salvation and all will be made new. 

While we wait, we will experience hard days, affliction and discomfort on this earth.

While we wait, the flowers fade and the grass withers.

While we wait, we will have days, perhaps even long seasons, where we are empty of strength to the point of fainting and our cry echoes that of the psalmist from our journal passages this last week in Psalm 119:81-96:

My soul faints for Your salvation…
My eyes fail from searching Your Word,
Saying, “When will You comfort me?”
—Psalm 119:81-82 (NIV)

In the original language of Scripture, the word faint (“long” in the ESV) has the idea of “coming to the end” . It is same verb in a slightly different form as used in Psalm 119:87: “They almost made an end of me.” Fainting is a loss of strength; a collapse. Here the Psalmist felt that his soul was so weak, so empty of strength that it was unable to stand.

Did you notice his declaration in verse 81 as he cries out from a fainting soul?

But I hope in Your Word. —Psalm 119:81

This place of desperate yet not despairing is known to the followers of God. The Apostle Paul related something of this in 2 Corinthians 4:8-18:

We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies…So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. or this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

 

While we wait, we can remember God is using all things to make us more like Jesus!

While we wait, we can place our hope in God’s Word.

We can hope in God’s Word because…

God’s Word is perennial. It is  fixed, settled, permanent and enduring to all generations. 

Forever, O LORD,
Your Word is settled in heaven.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
You established the earth, and it abides.
They continue this day according to Your ordinances,
For all are Your servants.
—Psalm 119:89-91

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever. —Isaiah 40:8

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will by no means pass away. —Matthew 24:35

God’s Word is where we find hope.

God’s Word brings life even in the midst of hardship and decay.

God’s Word brings life because it is alive!

I love this quote from Martin Luther. Years ago I wrote it in the front of my Bible. I love the imagery it evokes of God’s Word absolutely consuming me, pursuing me and permanent in my life.

“The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me. The Bible is not antique or modern. It is eternal.” —Martin Luther

So…

when you’ve come to the end of yourself…

when you’re emptied of strength…

when you’re discouraged because things are not going as planned…

when you’re longing for the perfect permanence…

Remember and rehearse what we find at the end of this section of our Psalm:

I have seen the consummation of all perfection, But Your commandment is exceedingly broad. —Psalm 119:96

This broad place is firm and safe standing for us. We can say with confidence, I accept the difficulties and I humbly wait for their solution. But while I wait, I am standing on rock and I am meditating on the Word! My God is faithful and His faithfulness endures for all generations!

This week: Read and journal through Psalm 119:97-104 (Mem) and Psalm 119:105-112 (Nun).

Rejoicing in Him!
Susan

Find more devotions and Bible studies from Susan on her blog, Get Real.

©2017 Susan Cady, susancady.com

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