It's so odd when I go outside and the atmosphere matches what is happening within. There are sunny happy days where the birds are chirping and I am feeling bubbly and excited about life. Then there are days like today, where there are clouds hovering above me literally and figuratively. The rain drips from the skies as the tears drip from my eyes. This isn't a sobby journal entry, rather, it's an expression of human nature. God created us with complex emotions and struggles. Relationships seem to bloom and flourish one day and the next seem to be wilting and the growth - stunted. Jobs can be successful one day - and the next be swept out from under us. Emotions can over-take us and in turn make us lose our focus on the Lord. For a personality type like myself (enneagram 7, thank you Carlin...) my mood doesn't stay down for long. I do not enjoy wallowing or even being slightly sad. I enjoy being happy and upbeat so when these days come, I tend to look for the silver lining or purpose for these feelings.
I was reading about Jacob today in Genesis and what I read was interesting for my feelings this exact day: (and please don't skim over these verses, like I sometimes tend to do... read them)
"So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until day break. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." The man asked him, "What is your name?" "Jacob" he answered. Then the man said, your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and man and have overcome." (In case you missed it, God is "the man" in this)
God recognized his struggle against Him as a good thing, as something that made him into the man He had intended him to be. He changed his name from Jacob, meaning "to follow behind, supplanter or assailant" to Israel which means "Struggles with God, God prevails." He looked at it as something to reward him for, not punish him for. God doesn't want us to stay safe in our faith but to wrestle with it.
Sit in the discomfort. Squirm in the uncertainty. Run your fingers through the questions. Wrestle with The Word (which could be scripture or God Himself). Nothing you could yell at him about will stop him from loving you or even calling you Righteous. He is not easily offended and keeps no record of wrongs. He can take it. He can withstand the unrelenting doubt or questions and will strengthen YOU through it all.
Later on in the same chapter in Genesis, Jacob names the place he wrestled with God "Peniel" which means The face of God.
"The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip." vs. 33:33 This is a picture of what happens to us in life. We will encounter struggles which leave us with emotional scars or visible reminders of our choices and seasons of doubt. He wasn't cast away because of his struggle, but blessed and used in a mighty way. We will be left with scars and possibly even visible wounds, but God promises to use those in a big and mighty way. We don't go through our experiences left without bruise or blemish. Embrace it. Walk with a limp.
So on days like today, when my soul is downcast within me, I look at it as a refinement period. Just as David writes in the Psalms:
Psalms 42:5 "So then, my soul, why would you be depressed? Why would you sink into despair? Just keep hoping and waiting on God, your Savior. For no matter what, I will still sing with praise, for living before his face is my saving grace! Here I am depressed and downcast. Yet I will still remember you as I ponder the place where your glory streams down from the mighty mountaintops, lofty and majestic - the mountains of your awesome presence. My deep need calls out to the deep and kindness of your love."
(The Passion Translation - Italics added)
I have a deep sense of Joy waiting to emerge from behind the clouds. Like the sun peeking through the clouds after a storm, revealing a rainbow that is His promise.
"He then reached down from heaven, all the way from the sky to the sea. He reached down into my darkness to rescue me! He took me out of my calamity and chaos and drew me to himself, taking me from the depths of my despair! His love broke open the way and he brought me into a beautiful broad place. He rescued me - because his delight is in me!"
(The Passion Translation - Italics added)
If only we knew the depth of His love and comprehended it. We would come to Him with our doubts directly instead of talking behind His back. We would ask Him the question directly and go where He leads. We would feel secure in ourselves and let go of our shame and earthly shortcomings. We will never be enough in earthly eyes - but we are EVERYTHING to Him. Our human mind cannot fathom how he could possibly keep track of every living person or even understand how he finds value in every living person, but He does. He dwells among us and within us. He created every man and woman and child in his image.
If we look hard enough, we will see the sun peeking through the clouds. We will welcome the warmth it brings and turn our face towards it. We will shed the layers we have put on ourselves of ill fitting clothes, and put on the righteous attire He has laid out for us to take, woven together, fitting each individual person perfectly.
I pray that we discover who God has created us to be and start to use the gifts and talents he so graciously bestowed upon our souls.