“Is it cumulative?” Not too long ago a friend surprised me with that question.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I mean, all of the hard things y’all have gone through…does it feel cumulative?”
“Well, no… I don’t think so. I guess it probably would if I was trying to do it all on my own, but that’s God’s job, so I guess I just never think of it that way.”
We went on to talk of other things, but that little conversational snippet has stuck with me. In fact, I’ve given it some rather serious thought over the past several weeks. I’ve even shared it with several others, as well.
Last week was a tough one. Taxes, travel, to-do lists…those things might be trying enough, but we also learned about the passing of several friends, of heart-breaking medical news for some, of difficult personal tragedies for others, and we’re still in the waiting phase on several personal fronts. I’ve thought back to that conversation and wondered if I might have to give her a different answer if we’d had it last week, because to be completely honest…it was starting to feel cumulative…and I wondered how much more I could take. Oh, I realized that most of the difficult news we were privy to wasn’t actually OURS, but it was still very personal because it was happening to people we love and value…and I’m a fixer…and I couldn’t fix a single thing.
God wasn’t a bit surprised.
In fact, He knew I was supposed to teach Sunday School this past week and He’d already set it up for us to be in Matthew, Chapter 11, which starts off with John the Baptist in a really tight spot–prison!–and how John sent a couple of people to check in with Jesus and ask that really big question: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” v. 2 (HCSB) Can’t you just hear the frustration in that question? I can…and I can relate. I’ll bet you can, too, because sometimes things are just so hard that you want to ask God where He is in all of it and why He isn’t fixing it…like, right now.
Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind see, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news. And if anyone is not offended because of Me, he is blessed.” Matthew 11: 4-6 (HCSB)
Well, would you look at that? There were some good things happening, too…right at the same time as all of those bad things. It’s that way today, as well. We have just have to look harder for them some days and not get distracted when things start to feel cumulative.
My favorite part of Matthew 11 comes close to the end, however. It’s verse 28.
Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. “
Oh, how I LOVE this!
- “Come to Me”–not to a religion or a mantra or a set of rules. Come into a personal relationship with the God of the universe! What an invitation!
- “all of you who are weary and burdened”–who isn’t that? or hasn’t been that? or will be that again? That’s ALL of us!
- “and I will give you rest.”–verse 29 spells it out even plainer, “you will find rest for your souls.” Soul deep, abiding, permanent rest IS possible, but only when we go to Him.
And this week? The hits have just kept on coming for several of the people we love…and it’s still hard, but I’m also remembering all of the miracles in my life–and in theirs, too. I’m remembering all of the blessings because I CHOOSE TO DO THAT and because there are far more of them than there are difficulties, so they’re easier to count. And you know what that means?