Shambly.

When people ask me how I’m doing/how I’ve been doing, or how I’m feeling, the first part of my answer recently is, “A little shambly…”

According to Merriam-Webster, shambles is place or state in which there is great   confusion, disorder or destruction

AKA: a state of messiness. Storminess.

Shambles.
Mess.
Great confusion.
Disorder.

This has been me for a while.
Constantly feeling all out of sorts, disordered, chaotic, running around all over the place, not feeling like I have enough.
Not enough time to do what I need to and what I want to.
Not enough energy.
Not enough emotional or mental capacity.
Not enough for others.
Not enough for myself.
Not enough for God.
Not enough in general.

If last semester was a great big pile of flaming dog-poop (possibly another story for another time), then the past 2 months of this semester have felt like me running around like a chicken after its head’s cut off (sorry/not sorry for the vivid or gross imagery. Life isn’t always pretty).

Starting over Christmas break and going into the beginning of this semester, I starting reading through Psalms, and I ended up reading it in its entirety twice. In doing this I found several chapters and verses that I have found to be prayers. These are prayers that can be shouted and screamed and literally cried out when the weight of the world and the problems we face in life just get too freaking hard.

And in my life recently, these have been prayers that I have clung to when I have come to the end of myself, which has happened waaaaaay to frequently for my liking.

I title these prayers as prayers of desperation; heart-cries.

These prayers are saturated and ringing with hurt, aching, longing, sorrow and frustrating.

These are prayers that people have prayed over themselves when they need to be reminded of God’s character and consistency in the midst of their own chaos.

These are prayers that other people have prayed when they have come to the end of themselves, crying out to God, desperate to see him move, and when they are questioning His faithfulness and goodness.

These aren’t prayers to be said quaintly or in a rote way in a sermon. I mean they could, but I think that would be missing the point and making these prayers less than what they are. These prayers were written at times of great distress, sorrow, depression, aching, and frustration, and so people can and have the freedom to pray them with the same kind of emotion felt by those who wrote them.

And boy have I felt the need to do that recently. Thankfully, these prayers give me the words when I am overwhelmed by my emotions (remember, I feel things pretty intensely.)

These prayers are found in

– Psalm 3                                                                      – Psalm 77:1-13

– Psalm 13                                                                    – Psalm 80:3-19

– Psalm 17                                                                    – Psalm 86:1-6, 11-17

– Psalm 19:12-14                                                         – Psalm 88:6-9, 13

– Psalm 22 (super powerful)

– Psalm 25                                                                     – Psalm 89:46-52

– Psalm 27:7-11 (this is a good one to scream)       – Psalm 90:12-17                            

–  Psalm 28:1-2                                                              – Psalm 91

– Psalm 31:1-6, 9-21                                                     – Psalm 94:14, 16-19

– Psalm 38:9-15, 17-21                                                 – Psalm 101:2-3

– Psalm 39:4-13                                                           – Psalm 102 and 103

– Psalm 40:1-3, 11-13, 17 (this is a promise you can say over your life in this way – I will wait patiently for you to help me God: for I know you will listen and hear my cry. I know you will lift me out of the pit of despair, out of the bog and the mire, etc.)

– Psalm 42:4-11                                                           – Psalm 105 (not necessarily a prayer but good one to read if you’re struggling with remembering God’s faithfulness.

– Psalm 43:5

– Psalm 44:23-26                                   – Psalm 107:3-7, 9, 29, 35-38, 41-43

– Psalm 51                                                                  – Psalm 109:21-28

– Psalm 55:1-2, 4-8, 16-19                                        – Psalm 116

– Psalm 56: 3-4, 8-13                                                  – Psalm 118:5-9

– Psalm 57:1-3                                                             – ALL of Psalm 119

– Psalm 59:16                                                              – Psalm 121

– Psalm 61                                                                   – Psalm 126:5-6

– Psalm 66:10-20                                                        – Psalm 130:1-6

– Psalm 69:1-3, 13-19                                                – Psalm 139:23

– Psalm 70                                                                  – Psalm 139:23

– Psalm 71:1-6, 14-24                                                – Psalm 141:1-2

– Psalm 73:17-28                                                       – Psalm 142

– Psalm 74:1-2, 19-22                                                – Psalm 145:14-20

 

So, what am I getting at here? I didn’t just list a bunch of places in Psalms with heartfelt prayers for no reason, so bare with me.

Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this life, you will have troubles…”

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Yep. Accurate. Very very very very accurate.

This semester alone:

– I lost my job unexpectedly, and have been unemployed for over a month despite my numerous efforts.

– Because I don’t have a job I don’t have money coming in to help me pay for my mission trip I’m taking this summer, so that’s extremely stressful.

– A dearly loved family member that will need surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in their kidney, after having lost their other kidney because of a cancerous tumor 10 years ago (which I literally just found out about both of those things a week ago)

– There is a situation between me and another person in my college ministry that hasn’t been resolved yet after 5 months, which has been really really painful. This is an incredibly complicated situation that I can’t even begin to unpack, so for all of you prayer warriors out there please keep me in mind and pray for reconciliation between me and this other person.

– School has been a whole new breed of stressful all on its own

– AND NOW, ON TOP OF ALL OF THAT, people I know well and have done life with for a while now, have hurt me in a way I never thought they would and in a way I know they never intended to.

So, yeah, shambly. Very shambly.

BUT

And this is very important people.

IN THAT SAME sentence in John 16:33, Jesus also says, “…but take heart, for I have overcome the world!”

This is why the second part of my answer to that question of “How are you/how’ve you been?” is “…but God is good.”

This is why I can say that second part of my answer.

Jesus didn’t finish his statement with a “Life’s gonna suck” message. He didn’t just say, “In this life, you will have troubles. End of story. So have fun with that!”

I think he’s saying,

“Hey, life won’t be easy, you know life’s not easy, but you won’t have to and don’t need to dwell on it because I have overcome whatever troubles you may face today, tomorrow, and in the future. So hope in me, because whatever you do end up facing in life – I’ve already defeated it.

This is why the second part of my answer to that question of “How are you/how’ve you been?” is “…but God is good.”

I don’t always see it, but I always say it because I want to remind myself of this truth. Honestly, it’s really hard for me to believe that God is for me sometimes.

But all of those Psalms give me hope.
They give me words to pray, and they comfort me by showing me that there were people in situations that were way more extreme than mine probably ever will, but that God still showed up for them. So I know he can, and will, show up for me, too.

In James 1:2-4 it says,

“Is your life full of difficulties and temptations?…”  

Difficulties in my life? HA. Check. The temptation to grow hopeless, despair, and be bitter at God? Yep, check.

“…Then be happy, – ”

WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT WHAT? Come again??

“…for when the way is rough your patience has a change to grow…”

I guess that’s a good thing…

…So LET IT GROW…”

Okay, okay, but I don’t know how to do that God, so how do I do that?

“…don’t try to squirm out of your problems…”

Oh….

“For when your patience is finally in full bloom,

then

            you, Liv,

not just other people,

BUT YOU,

will be ready for ANYTHING,

STRONG in character,

FULL and COMPLETE.”

Patience is something that many people have told me recently that they felt God was highlighting to me, something that Jesus wants me to learn from him and lean into him for more of it, and I can’t deny it, I think they’re right.

It’s pretty clear that all of these things going on in my life which seem like a giant pile of suck are there not because Jesus likes to watch me squirm underneath the weight of my problems (that is not who God is).

The problems I’m facing are there because Jesus wants me to learn how to grow in patience, to trust that his provision will show up in his perfect timing. 

I want to be ready for anything, but I can’t be ready to endure the kinds of suffering that Paul or Timothy or Barnabas or other early Christians endured for the sake of the Gospel if my patience for suffering isn’t even developed to handle the problems I have now.

So, I’m going to stop trying to squirm out of my problems. It’s tiring trying to do that anyway. I know I can’t fix my problems through my own strength, and I know I’m not going to produce more patience by trying to get of my difficulties. Trying to get out of difficulties is immature, energy depleting, and won’t help me, or you, in the long haul.

So God, thanks. Thank you for the problems in my life, because they show me how much I need you. Yeah they suck big time and I don’t always feel thankful for them, but I know you’re at work in the midst of them, and I trust that.

Patience is a virtue and is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. And because I have the Holy Spirit in my life, I know that this fruit is growing in me, little by little, day by day, problem by problem.

Growing is hard and comes with growing pains, but once the process is done, I’ll be in full bloom. And I can wait to see what I’ll look like by the end of this season because right now, I’m choosing to live day by day, because tomorrow’s got enough of its own problems.

 

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