Silent! If someone asked me today to describe the God I serve, that is the word I would use. A few days ago I talked about feeling a lot of frustration because I haven't been able to hear God's voice clearly. Unfortunately my frustration continues and my confusion continues to grow day by day. It feels like I can't seem to get any forward movement on anything I have been putting my hands to. My most pressing concern is of course my dissertation. I feel lost and I am not sure I am moving in the right direction with my writing because I haven't been able to connect with my advisor. The disconnect allows room for the enemy to come in and suddenly I start questioning if my work is important to God and if my advisor really even wants to work with me. Then I wonder if I should even keep writing or just stop until I am able to connect with my advisor which may put me weeks behind. With all of the voices and questions swirling in my head, it's no wonder I cannot seem to start sermon prepping for Good Friday. How can God speak to me when I am too busy entertaining the voice of the enemy and talking myself out the things God is bringing me into?
Earlier this week God did give me a new lens on a familiar scripture. Most of us know James 1:2 "count it all joy when you fall into various trials..." (New King James Version), but the Good News Bible says it this way- "Count yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way." This version goes on to say "when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is ability to endure." Over the last six months and in particular the last two months, we have definitely felt the weight of all kinds of trials coming our way, from the ordinary to the utterly ridiculous. There were many days that I personally thought I would fall apart, but I didn't (or at least not for long). What really catches my attention though is the word "endure." Despite being a dancer in a former life, endurance is something I have always struggled with physically. When Husband and I go to the gym or go for long walks, it's not very long before I feel like passing out! I've also struggled with endurance spiritually because I feel great anxiety and despair when I can't see when and how I am going to come out of something which leaves me questioning if I will come out at all. But I have to thank God that during this long season of struggle and waiting, he has built up my endurance. I now know that I have the ability to withstand sustained attack, trials, and warfare. More importantly I have learned that endurance doesn't mean that you never doubt or question. It just means that you are still standing on the other side with you faith in God still intact.
In the now classic 1985 movie The Color Purple, upon leaving her physically, emotionally, and psychologically abusive husband, Miss Celie responds to the insults hurled at her by Mister by saying, "I'm poor, black, I may even be ugly, but dear God I'm here! I'm here!" It took me most of my life to understand her declaration. As a grown woman with a mature faith I now know she was declaring that despite everything she'd been through, God had given her the grace to endure.