Underneath that placid façade, however, it's felt much more like a churning ocean in the midst of a storm. Shawn and I have been hit by so much at once that it feels we can't catch a full breath before the next wave overtakes us. There has been move upon move, time apart, expensive car repairs, and a host of other ordeals that remind us that life is just not easy.
Just this week, it seemed like things were going smoother. Liam and I made it safely back to Raleigh, to our husband/dad that we hadn't seen for 16 long days. Yes, we're still in boxes, but with the promise of a closing date two weeks out, our situation felt more palatable.
And then sickness hit. It hit all of us. On top of what we thought were just bad head colds, we found ourselves at 9pm on Tuesday night rushing Liam to an urgent care center when he couldn't keep anything down. Seeing him so violently ill was unnerving. I'm a nurse and should've realized that, by all indications, he'd be ok. But when it's your own child you're dealing with, you feel pretty helpless - nurse or not.
By 10pm, we were home with a very sleepy boy and hungry bellies as we hadn't had a chance to eat dinner yet. Shawn whipped up some eggs and heated up frozen pancakes, and we stared blankly across the table at each other with a look that said, "Can you even believe how hard this has been?" The nearly four months of living out of boxes, the sickness, the uncertainty over our new home - it all hit us hard, and we felt defeated.
Shawn flipped open his Bible as we ate and landed blindly on Psalm 142.
"Read this," he said.
"God really knows how to deal with hurting people."
I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
before him I tell my trouble.
When my spirit grows faint within me,
it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
no one cares for my life.
I cry to you, Lord;
I say, "You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living."
Listen to my cry,
for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison,
that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
because of your goodness to me.
I am so thankful for a God who allows me to pour out my complaints. He isn't intimidated by my questions, my frustration, my anger, or my impatience. He is big enough to handle all of it.
And more than that, He doesn't just sit idly by and watch us hurt. He isn't impervious to pain. As a man, Jesus wept with Mary and Martha when Lazarus died. Though he could've bypassed the deep pain and sadness he experienced by just healing Lazarus right away, He showed us in that those two tiny little words that he wasn't beyond experiencing our sorrow and our hurt. Jesus wept. Tiny words with such magnificent impact.
God doesn't always rush to fix things right away, and I'm learning to love that about Him. He could've rushed to Lazarus' side and healed him in an instant. He could've avoided even a trace of pain. But he didn't. That's such a comfort to me, to have a God who is near, who feels my pain, who carries my sorrow, and asks me to burden Him with all of it.
In the last few months, He has sat by while we've cried out to Him for mercy. He's been there as we've hit our breaking points. And honestly, I've never loved Him more. I've never clung to His promises with a tighter grasp. I open the Word and find fresh hope and peace that I've never seen, because the contrast of our suffering against the weight of His glory is so poignant. And He does bring joy. His mercies are new every morning. But it doesn't mean that at times, He's ok to sit with us in our hurt.
In my weakness, may You be proven strong.
As I am brought low, may You be lifted high.