KEEPING THE FAITH

Gugu / 17 Apr, 2019

So in the midst of my season of disappointment, unknowing, uncertainty, feeling purposeless and forgotten by God, frustration, anger and ALL of the heavy emotional burden that comes with being in such a place, I have had to literally pull my faith up by its bootstraps to keep it alive. I am not sure whether through my weekly posts, you have gotten a sense of the depth of my sorrow and restlessness, but suffice it to say, it is rough. I cannot say it has been rough, because the struggle continues. I am in the throes of this rollercoaster ride. I am yet to catch a break…

Nevertheless, you know how they say no matter what you are going through, keep showing up to your life every single day? Like keep looking good, smelling good, working as well as you always have, keeping a smile on your face even when you’re in tears otherwise in your alone time, and being an agent of peace, joy and light wherever you go? I think I am finally living that. And please believe that I am not in any way tooting my own horn; I have NOT been the model “grace under fire” citizen. Sometimes my rage has consumed me to such a point that it has made me feel so separated from and rejected by God for it. Out of my anger and frustration, I have often slacked in my “showing up“, I have held strong resentment towards those I felt have done me wrong and I have become jaded and self-righteous in the face of seeing those I deem the wicked, prosper. But nonetheless, I have continued to rock up to my job that I’ve outgrown; continued to be a mother, a friend and a sister and daughter; I have had to continue showing up on Logosophical every other week and dig deep within me to write and share with you all as authentically, honestly and transparently as possible. I have literally continued to show up, as best as I can, to life, while carrying all of the burdens I carry. And to all those that show up like this on a daily, big up yourself! It. Is. Not. Easy! I know that in the past, I simply just collapsed and caved in. I would just stop showing up to life. But back then, I also suffered from serious depression. And I am a different person now (thankfully); I’ve grown and I can look at myself and say I am actually just putting on and rocking my big girl panties because honey, that is life. You cry your tears while you’re getting your life! However, inasmuch as that is the way of life, when we find ourselves under the strenuous and heartbreaking weight of our pains and sorrows, it is unsustainable to just keep showing up despite so much internal turmoil. Eventually, something must give. There is also nothing heroic about ignoring your pain just to show up in life when that pain is literally killing you and eating away at your peace and sense of self. And so, I am always an advocate of prioritising your emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Because without that wellbeing, you are useless to yourself and to the world. Real talk. I would encourage anyone that’s in such a position to press pause on their life and attend to themselves. And we can attend to the self in many ways, many, many ways. I encourage anyone in need of this to do it. Your present and future self will thank you for it. Also, you are worth it; wirth the self-care and self-love.

For me, the root of my disillusionment lies with my faith. So inasmuch as your girl has been “showing up” to everythang, the only thing I hadn’t been showing up to in recent weeks was my faith. I had somewhat called it quits on that and wasn’t really interested in, or rather able to, converse with God in the same way I’d been, prior to February 2019. I was angry with God; I felt so let down. I was heartbroken. But that not showing up to my faith wasn’t long-lived hey. Slowly but surely, I found myself back in meditation and conversation with God. And I knew even when I was “severing” these ties that I wasn’t cut out to do life without this faith. I knew I’d be right back at it at some point. God and I have been through too much for me to just leave now. Nah! I’m collecting the cheque and all the loot, son! Hahaha! In other words, I am going to make good on my faith – all the faith I have had to have when it hurt and didn’t make sense. THAT part, LOL! I was just big mad and deeply hurt. And I am grateful for the space He allowed me, even though I (nor He) never left, LOL. But it’s funny right? That I, a long time Christian, would talk about carrying burdens? Right there, I am sure that light bulbs went off for many. I’m sure you’re all thinking, “But why is she carrying all those burdens for/by herself?” Well, when you had put your faith and hope in God and you are disappointed, you really struggle to give Him anything again, especially that pain and hurt you believe He is responsible for. But as the weeks wore on, I begun to feel naked and exposed without the intimacy we once shared. Without that fellowship, I feel like even more of a wandering soul in this really difficult season of uncertainty. And I would hate to say that out of fear of a Godless life, I ran back to God. But it’s true. More and more, I just felt the weight of my conviction about my inability to do this life without God, and it was HEA-VY! So, I have found my way back to Him, but to be clear, I still feel much of what I have been feeling. But I am trusting Him to work through my anger, hurt, disappointment and confusion. I am biding my time and becoming who He expects me to become in the process: patient, filled with peace, gracious, humble, fully trusting, and resilient.

I guess I am giving my burdens over to Jesus then. But I guess I also just want to make clear that doing so doesn’t change things overnight. You don’t immediately stop feeling sad or frustrated. The people at your job don’t magically transform into saints and all the answers don’t suddenly come gushing into your mind like a mighty rushing wind. It is work, daily work. It is sacrifice on your part – sacrificing indulging your emotions to place your energy and focus instead on His Word. It is you demonstrating faith and trust in Him essentially. It is and continues to be moment by moment for me. And yes, I have asked “Why me?” so MANY times. And I have gone through the motions of counting my sins (impossible, LOL) and instances of disobedience, and I am pretty sure that there is a lot there for God to work with, but His Word says that He forgives and FORGETS. So for the sins I have committed, for which I have asked forgiveness, those debts have been erased from His recollection. Basically, even I didn’t have His forgiveness, I know that God isn’t punishing me, even if it feels like it. Instead, I now see that I am being corrected (made better) and matured in the faith. And that answer, that truth, although it often isn’t satisfactory, is what I have to keep going back to in order to answer my “Why me?” question. Trials, tests and tribulation are par for the course in the Christian walk. And also, as they say, if not you then who? It is for these reasons that we go through testing, the testing of our faith: it is so that we can be less dependent on our fallible thinking and understanding, more reliant on Him (Because He’s a jealous God and you will find yourself needing Him every moment, and that’s what He wants. And every moment seems/feels like it needs you to pray just so you can remain composed and in line with what He expects of you) and more rooted in His Word. It is so that we can get out of our feelings and become spiritual giants, graduating from the naiveté of only worrying about our material comforts to worrying about the mettle of our spiritual strength and condition. Yeah. THAT part. I don’t know if I have said it before, but for Him, that’s the main goal.

Now if you know me, you will know that I give full expression to my emotions. LOL! I feel and expressss my feels. But what I have learnt during this season is that inasmuch as I feel what I feel, more often than not, my feelings are unreliable and can often be a trap. They’re unreliable insofar as they are not always accurate representations of the truth or even anywhere near the truth and they’re a trap that keeps you thinking for yourself and unable to tap into the higher power where there is more for you, no matter the circumstances you’re facing. And it may not seem true that there’s more, but you won’t know until and unless you try; let go of the feelings and pick up your faith cross. Yes, it’s not all just “freely received”. No – the sacrifice is laying down your thinking and feelings and placing your belief in His Word. It is denying self. For me, a lot of this has involved meditating on scripture in order to make it REAL to me and to counter what I may be feeling. We use the Word to overrule the emotions and whatever it is we may feel.

And so I am going to share the Word today. Scripture that has leaped out at me during this season. I don’t know who it will help, but I pray that it helps at least one person. I may not have much insight into many of your inner lives, but I do know that we all carry a lot with us. There is just simply too much suffering, confusion, disappointment, hurt and pain in this life. We can be showing up every single day and faking it til we make it, but I know that many a times many of us start and end our days off in weeping. We weep with heavy hearts to the Lord and sometimes it feels as though we’re going to die because of how overwhelming the sorrow and grief are. I don’t know the specificities of your pain, but Jesus does. I don’t know when it will stop hurting, but I believe that He can be a solution to your inner turmoil. I know sometimes it feels like He is so far, but lay down those feelings for a little while, practice your faith and just stand on His Word. And I wish I knew how He heals a broken heart, but I don’t. I just know that He can and He does. Not by might, not by power, but by His Spirit. And so when your tears substitute your prayers because words fail you, simply ask for more of His Spirit. He will give it to you.

The scriptures that have spoken to me have definitely emphasized being joyful in general as we go through life. I touched on the concept of joy in The Pruning Ground. I believe more and more that this joy we are expected to cultivate can only be ours by keeping our eyes on Jesus and the Cross. All of our victory in Christ comes from the works He accomplished on the Cross. Yes, we sometimes have to look beyond this life and just find joy in being saved and knowing we’re on our way to heaven. What a privilege and honour that God sent us His love, grace, power and forgiveness through His ONLY begotten son. And the Bible says that that hope that we have in Christ as the Saviour will not disappoint. And I think that at this time, as we move towards Easter, as believers, this reason alone ought to inspire the fullness of our joy despite our own sorrows. We not only find joy in contemplating on His mercy and His steadfast love but also on the blessings we receive on a daily basis that we don’t even ask for. His steadfast love not only made a way out of eternal damnation for us but it puts clothes on my back, food on my table, petrol in my car, love all around me and a multitude (millions) of blessings (some I am even unaware of) that sustain and comprise my life every single day. Again, joy leads us to be reflective and consequently, grateful. It teaches us to take our focus off of our wretched situation and onto Jesus, His “new every morning” blessings and what He can do with our suffering. After all, He turned water into wine. There is nothing grand and great and beautiful and praiseworthy that has been borne, except that which has come out of the winepress. We are squeezed in order to bring out the best in us. For Christ, the Cross brought out His supreme Lordship, that at His name, every knee should bow. He earned it, and it didn’t come cheap. My experience of this joy has been such that it is an assurance in my heart, a firm knowing that everything will be alright, and IS alright despite the circumstances and my emotional turmoil. I think I once said that the joy of the Lord is and comes from knowing that God is God. And guess what, often times this knowledge has buoyed me in my spirit. In other words, I have actually felt it. And it’s such a comfort. It’s just a wave that often comes over me as I go through my day and it washes over me, and for those moments that I experience it, I just know that I know that God sees me, cares deeply for me, is with me and is doing things for me in my heart and behind the scenes and in the spirit realm!

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53: 4-5 NKJV

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice! Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon]. Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4: 4-7 AMPC

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me Because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted; To proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn; To console those who mourn in Zion
To give them beauty for ashes; The oil of joy for mourning
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness
;
That they may be called trees of righteousness
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

Isaiah 61: 1-3 NKJV

Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the JOY [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us.

Hebrews 12: 1-2 AMPC

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

2 Timothy 4:6-8 NKJV

In my last blog entry, I also shared Romans 5:3-5 and James 1:2-4. They also emphasize the quality of joy being brought out of us in/during difficult and trying circumstances. There is also much revelation and instruction when you read these scriptures together with a commentary such as Matthew Henry’s. The words and particular excerpts that I have highlighted in the foregoing scriptures reflect sentiments that I have expressed in my writing over the last few weeks. Philippians 4:6 talks about making definite requests. Lulu wrote a piece last week that spoke to this aspect of our faith. She encouraged herself and us all to not become despondent, comfortable/complacent or fearful in our faith. These can all lead us to uttering lukewarm prayers and only harbouring feeble desires of and requests from God. The disappointment may have happened, but the healing and the refreshing/renewing of our relationship still has me asking specific things of Him. I know what I want/desire and I believe it to be aligned to His will and so that’s what I will keep asking for. Faith pleases God. And persistent faith moves Him to action. I am reminded of the parable of the widow who kept bothering the judge and He eventually ruled in her favour just because of her sheer persistence. And when life guts us or we don’t have a revelation of God’s grace towards us and a knowledge of our power and privileges, the enemy has us, and if we allow, keeps us, right where he wants us: operating in mediocre faith and lukewarm conviction. And yet we want to be healed, restored, appointed, anointed and experience breakthroughs? And I am speaking to myself. Let us recover from disappointments and setbacks and continue to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need”. (Hebrews 4:16)

It has been quite a deeply challenging and vulnerable experience to share with you all what, how and where my faith is over the last 2 ½ months. I have been hoping for a different kind of inspiration to hit every time I sit to write for the blog, but the Spirit has led me to be introspective and write about myself and how much I have struggled to get the faith thing right in the face of delayed answers, setbacks and disappointments. I believe He knows why. However, I am looking to starting something new after Easter cos hunty, all this soul-baring has been emotionally taxing, LOL! But to you, wherever it hurts, I pray that you would find release, validation, affirmation, redemption, assurance, healing, closure, strength and eventual breakthrough. May His grace be sufficient and made perfect in your weakness and may you in turn remain gracious and let “…all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit)”. The season is for a purpose, and He shall complete the good work that He has started in you. His arms are surrounding you right now, you are immersed in an ocean of boundless love, not forgotten, and His plan for you is still valid and in effect. Joy comes in the morning and the morning is coming. Only hold on to your faith, and like one of my bests likes to say, whatever you do, don’t give up!

You can also find me at twitter.com/honeybmissg.

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