The Hard Hallelujah.

Reader, this season is hard.

If I could sit across the table from you, cup of coffee in hand, and pour out all that is on my heart, I’d share how I’m feeling cooped up, isolated, a little bit anxious and a lotta bit lonely. I’d share how my moods are changing by the hour, and how though some days I feel like I can identify and embrace all the beauty and joy there is to be found in this season; most days, I’m battling for joy and rejoicing is painful. I’d share how I’m finding so much to be thankful for, yet mourning the loss of so much. And I’d tell you how I’m feeling guilty about my struggle because I have been infinitely blessed and so many of my neighbors haven’t been. I’d tell you how most days I question who I am to consider this season one of suffering.

And I’d ask you the same questions I’ve been asking God.

Questions like: How do we rejoice in this season of suffering, isolation and loneliness? What does it look like to give thanks when so many people are losing and living in desperation? In this season of emotional frailty and weakness, where do we find the strength to rejoice in the Lord? When all we have are hard emotions, exhausted hearts, and weary minds, how do we embrace the command to rejoice?

Do we muster up “good” emotions? Do we look for the silver lining? Do we try to fake it ‘til we make it? And what about that thing called joy? Is it there and we just can’t find it? Or are we doing joy wrong?

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God, I give you my mess.

This is the cry of my heart tonight, reader. I’ve got nothing else to offer, nothing else to bring. No words of wisdom. No lesson or learning.

No, tonight what I have is a broken and contrite spirit. A faint heart, an emotionally exhausted mind, and a discouraged soul.

And beneath it all, the smallest flicker of hope.

The last few days, God’s convicted me big time of some sin I didn’t want to acknowledge. And I don’t know if this is how it works for you, but when God convicts me of sin, he doesn’t seem to hold back much. It seems like he brings out the big guns. (Even as I write this, I can almost hear God chuckle to himself, as if to say, “Oh Megan, you think those are my big guns? You’ve got no idea.”)

And I know God’s character is gentle. I know he can be delicate and soft in his handling of his children.

But sometimes, he is the thunder and the roaring lion and always he is a jealous God and a loving Father, and so when God sees us wrapped up in a sin, especially one we are either oblivious to or in denial of, he sends in the big dogs.

Or at least, that’s what it feels like on the receiving end.

And hear me, I’m not saying God isn’t kind in his conviction. I’m not saying his discipline isn’t rooted in love. I’m not saying he inflicts pain, pours out his wrath, or sends us into a place of shame and condemnation.

But I think what he does do, is come into our lives with all of his power and authority, and he hits hard on the hardest parts of our hearts.

And when he does, I always react the same way: first, I cry. Second, I question.

God, why do you have to hit so hard? Why is your approach so intense?

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God, why am I so afraid?

“Don’t be afraid.” Easier said than done, am I right?

You know, there are a lot of commands in the Bible that I can easily get on board with – a lot of straightforward, easy to understand commands. No, they aren’t all easy to follow of course, but a lot of them seem pretty black and white, right and wrong, do this and don’t do that. And I can see value in them all, even though I fall short of each one, often.

But when the Bible commands Christians not to be afraid, it throws me off because it isn’t just a suggestion or a good idea. It’s not just a friendly phrase to throw around in the midst of trials or to encourage loved ones with. It’s a command.

Fear not.

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