When the cup is too full …

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I’m in a season … It started over a year ago. It’s been a journey that’s been hard to write about. It’s full. But not really in the way you would hope your season would be full.

Usually, seasons that are full are assumed to be full of blessing. It’s the image of the cup running over. I hear the words “surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6) or “a good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over” (Luke 6:38) … those are seasons of goodness, of deep joys of the soul. That image of the cup running over with all sorts of blessings and joys, yeah, that’s not this cup.

It’s rather the cup of sorrow that I seem to be filled with at the moment. It’s been sorrow in other people’s lives but each one keeps hitting closer to home and then it’s landed right on my heart’s doorstep too.

It’s been multiple illness and cancer diagnoses for family members and friends.

It’s been more than one funeral, their accompanying grief and tears. The request to play piano for three funerals has been a great honour but also heart wrenching.

It’s the knowledge that another funeral is not far away.

It’s the heart ache. It’s the uncertainty. It’s the tears that seem to be ready to tip out of my eyes at the slightest touch or word. It’s the waiting, wondering, what is coming next.

It was the sermon series at church. The study of the book of Job seemed to be the catalyst that started this journey. It’s been a tough journey. Tough to sit through and yet each of the lessons from Job’s life is too necessary, right now. I don’t want to have to apply them. I liked my bliss. I liked what was happening in my life fifteen months ago. It all seemed to be okay. However, that’s the word that is most misleading. It seemed to be okay.

Rarely are things what they seem. The fairy tale may have a Grimm ending. The story finishes with pain and not the delight of happily ever after. There’s this real world invasion into what I want. And instead of feeling the running over of blessings, it’s the feeling of the running over of what could possibly happen next? And it doesn’t seem to stop. Rather it keeps on building, like a tide sweeping into the shore. And it’s not the gentle tide that slowly ebbs and flows along the shoreline. Rather, it feels like the tide that’s the full moon variety. It’s come in with a vengeance. It’s reshaped the landscape of the shore, pushing the sand up into the cliff, changing the contour of the beach harshly. The changes hurt. There’s a loss of innocence. There’s the frustration of not being able to fix it. There’s that handcuffed and helpless feeling of watching those I love suffer. There’s tears. There’s prayers.

But in all of this there is Jesus. That is it. In all of this, there is Jesus. Regardless of what the pain and uncertainty is, there is Jesus. I know that there has never been a time where I have felt more in need of Him. More desperate pleas that have ascended to the throne. More constant prayer. These are good things. I just did not want to have to learn them this way.

Why is it that character refinement is best done through pain? Why is it that I miss so many lessons during the “good times”? Why are my ears unstopped when things are so difficult, but when it seems that things are good, I become deaf?

If I could, I would take the magic wand and remove suffering. And yet, my soul would then be deprived of the lessons I have been learning. I have no easy answers to the questions that keep swirling in my heart and mind. I have no recourse for the doubts and anxious thoughts but to call on His name. I have no fix except to know in the pit of who I am that Jesus is with me. He is also with those I love. It may feel that He has stepped back and is not deeply involved and yet He is there. And because of His great love, He has gone to the darkest of places so that I will be the recipient of light eternal. To that hope I cling with everything I have. My cup may be full, but he has drunk deeply from the cup of sorrow so that I may know He goes with me in my pain.

Chris Tomlin’s Fear Not

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