When I look at the future one word sums up the feeling that swells in the pit of my stomach: unsure. Unsure of my footing, unsure of my place, unsure of where God’s side is versus the world’s. The next moment beckons, but I hesitate to lose my hold on this one. What if my dread is foretelling? What if I’m not strong enough? What if God doesn’t ...?
I’ve been here before.
It didn’t wear the name “Coronavirus,” but the emotions feel like someone dug out a tape from the archives of my history and sat on replay. Over and over the same fog from the past hazes the present. I’m not really afraid of a virus. I’m not even afraid of the havoc that little monster can wreak on my body or those I love. I fear something much larger and less apt to be pinned beneath a microscope. I fear that moment when life is intersected by an unexpected thing – a thing that swallows stability whole and walks away gloating. You know, that thing that touched you and you were never the same? Call it a virus or a circumstance. Call it divorce or death. Whatever it was, it swallowed life whole, at least for a time. And there was no returning, no going back to the ‘before’ we knew and loved – that is what I fear.
I know God was there. I know He saw it coming and watched it go. I held His hand before and I wept in His embrace after. I just wonder what it would have been like to be aware of His arms around me as I went through it.
As a survivor of human trafficking, PTSD has been my faithful companion for years. I never know when she might leap forth from the shadows to whisper illusions from the past. “Yes, yes” I remind her. “It did happen...it’s just not happening now.” Sometimes she concedes and sometimes she launches a blitzkrieg against the very space I occupy. Beware innocent bystanders! Trauma leaves a mighty wake – both then and now.
In a valiant attempt to protect us from future assaults, the mind has a beautiful way of applying learning. Gleaning lessons from the past, logic is applied to the future. The trouble is, we don’t actually know what the future holds. Our mind may tell us, “Hey! This feels like that one time, right before it all hit the fan. So, get ready!” Our body responds with a rush of adrenaline followed by our pre-scripted version of flight, fight or freeze. Only in the aftermath do we realize we might have been overreacting… just a tad.
The truth is, it did happen. It’s just not happening now.
The funny thing about fight, flight or freeze is that it’s really hard to hold someone’s hand in anyone of those positions. It’s nearly impossible to be relational, much less logical. Those stances help us not die, but they don’t enable us to live.
If I’m honest, the heart of ‘unsure’ lies in the seedbed of my beliefs about the nature of God. “I know You were there, BUT – but I felt lost, alone, abandoned, cut-off, forgotten, ignored, worthless.” Unsure takes root among the weeds of doubt. Where the mind consents to truth but the heart withholds acceptance, you find the key to unraveling hope. I find I cannot make my heart believe and come into rest, but I can invite My Lord in as the Author and Finisher of my faith.
“Tell me the truth, Lord. I felt abandoned, but what is the Truth?”
“I will never, no not ever, leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
Step by step, hand in hand, He walks us through the lost places. I don’t have what it takes to face the future and neither do you. But He does.
“I feel this world spinning out of control, Lord, but what is the truth?”
“I hold all things together.” Colossians 1:17
When I look at the future, I feel unsure. Unsure of what is coming and if I’ll respond as I hope to. Unsure of what love looks like in these times. But I don’t need to be sure in myself; my hope doesn’t rest on me. We can turn our gaze upon Him – The Way thru it, The Truth about it and The Life sustaining us in it. The One Who holds all things and knows the end from the beginning –
He is sure.