I feel it now more then ever, the weight of this brutal world.
Innocent blood being shed abroad, racial tension, unstable politics, and dangerous virus outbreaks are daily in the headlines. But I don’t have to read the paper or check a news app to feel it. It’s heavy, crushing, and sometimes when burdens strike close, it seems unbearable. A friend with a sudden cancer diagnosis. Family members with unexpected job loss humbly visiting the food pantry instead of the grocery store. Car accidents, sick babies, crumbling marriages, rebellious children and deadly addictions.
I feel it; and sometimes it feels unrelenting—this heavy, this crushing, this collapsing of all security.
Here to Stay
We can’t deny the hard we face in this world. There’s hard, harder, and hardest. And perspective can enlighten, but isn’t it true that hard—however you label it, whatever it looks like in your life right now—is as steady as a heartbeat in these days on earth?
It weighs heavy on the most faith-filled believers, even on the apostle Paul. I love how he shared his hardships candidly, so that generations of believers and even the modern church can echo, me too. And I find myself relating with this timely passage in II Corinthians 1:8-9:
“We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability…” Check—yes!
“…we thought we would never live through it…” Uh-huh.
“….in fact we expected to die…” Okay, maybe I’m being dramatic. But I have my days, don’t you?
“But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely on God, who raises the dead ” Whoa.
If we take the Bible to be true and believe He works in all things, then we must trust that His purpose is the foundation for all the hard in our lives. Can I just be real though? That comfort is easy to dish out to other people, but often less effective in my own crushing moments.
Pressed for Perfume
But then there’s this—and when I recognize and identify this truth, its impact is profoundly comforting to my weary heart: “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume.” (II Corinthians 2:15-16)
Everyone loves the fragrance of roses; the sweet natural perfume of such a delicate flower can permeate a room. And though the flowers’ scent is pleasant when displayed in a vase perfectly intact and protected, the scent is most powerful when the petals are actually removed and crushed. To fully extract the aromatic and rich scent one must first crush the dainty petals.
Perhaps that’s just it. The crushing moments, those times when we are forced to lean on His strength are necessary for our lives to produce a life-giving fragrance. When we are crushed—when our own strength is insufficient and we acknowledge our dependency on Him—we are in a place where God can profoundly use us.
Crushed to See Him
I know you’ve heard it and maybe even said it yourself: “God will never give you more then you can bear.” It sounds hopeful, encouraging, and comforting when life dishes out hard. But nothing could be further from the truth. God actually does give us more then we can bear. Paul experienced more then He could handle several times, but He also experienced God’s comfort that surpassed understanding. The disciples found themselves in impossible predicaments, yet in those moments they discovered Jesus’ speciality: leaving people in wonder and awe by doing abundantly more then you can imagine.
And though sometimes in my flesh I wish for the absence of hard, you know what I wish for even more? To see God work in my life, to see God’s hand so brilliantly and wonderfully displayed that it is unmistakable. And the reality is I see God most clearly in the hard, crushing, heavy moments. When the burden is too heavy and the world is too difficult I encounter a rare intimacy with my Savior who is always faithful. He doesn’t always take away the hard, but He always—always—walks through it right beside me.