Seems like a simple question, but life is not good all the time because we live in a broken and flawed world life is going to toss us back and forth in and out of issues. Your either in a hard time now, just coming out of one, or heading toward one you just don’t know it yet. And timing is used for us and against us. Timing for us looks like that check arrived just in time to pay or save you from a bad situation or in my case while dealing with some hard times a 18 year old kid runs a stop sign and totals your truck on the first day of many days I was actually beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, in the worse timing money wise, time wise and head space for storing problems it’s not what I needed at all.
So me and my family are going through some tough times I can’t say to much about it because I’m still working on resolving the details but I promise I will come back one day and tell the full story, but I can disclose it’s financial and when your way of making a living is in question everything else in your life ramps up to 100, and you find your self questioning everything. So standing on the side of the road this past Saturday with my wife and daughter Feruza, looking at my un-drivable truck with police, fire and ambulance people all around all I could do was laugh! I looked to Tiffany and we laughed because we just went through a full week of gut wrenching life altering scenarios that should put into question, everything top down. And when you're getting pummeled it begs this question one I have been faced with, Is God good?
If you are believer we say thats what we believe, but the bible is full of extreme examples of hardships people who loved and served him went through. It should be of no surprise to us, when the trials come and hardships land on our heads because we have been taught from scripture that these days are coming, and the bible is full of hardship stories and examples of all types that we can count on. But when they come we are always shocked and always caught by surprise which has been true in my case. Even if you contributed to these hard times your in it feels the same, and I’m suffering from both, things I did to myself and things out of my hands. Faith of our God we serve is not circumstantial, if it is for you? Then your going to find out that you don’t believe in God, when push comes to shove, when bleak really is bleak you reach out for anything you can hold on to.
The week our trouble started it was more of a realization of just how bad things have gotten, it did not come out of no where it was building in the background. And once I took full realization of where I was that gut wrenching panic sets in and gravity and daunting depths of my issue, scared me. What happens next as your heart beats out of raw fear, your mind races with worse case scenarios, and end of the world notions thats when the darkness creeps in and you feel helpless and dead.
In an instant everything fell into it’s rightful perspective, Politics, TV, social media, current events all became meaningless to me, as I began to accept my doom. I retreated and went into a circle the wagons stance with our life. It would have been so easy at this time to Doubt God, to forfeit everything I know or believe because of fear, to despair would be the easiest thing like slipping into a warm bath I could have fallen into the mistakable comfort of depression.
I understand in real ways why people choose extreme measures during extreme trials. I can easily see the path and lure to reach for comfort from temporary sources that will only make everything worse but offer numbness. When you're dealing with money related issues that are huge and spell out doom I get why people who have no hope consider they are worth more dead then alive, because it’s there shooting ideas at you false and wrong. Funny when your down in the pit your perspective changes quick. Maybe from your past place on top of the mountain you shook your head at other people using destructive means to find comfort or just to coup. From my perspective it would be so easy to let go and give in to those dark thoughts and dark places, because thats exactly what our enemy wants, it’s part of the plan for the devil to isolate us, and pour despair and hopeless on us, counting on us to give in and many do. The enemy best option is to sideline us make us ineffective.
Instead I asked is God good, all the time? Not in those words per se, but when your feet are held to the fire and you're looking at two paths, flee the city run for your life, flee the country avoid the problems and issues and head for the hills. Or dig in and deal with the situation regardless of scope and size and press into to God because he’s good in the good times and good in the bad times. God does not change it’s us and our circumstance that changes. So when life is bashing you in the head and you can’t sleep at night or eat because of your problem. The answer is still as true before you found your self in this mess.
The Sunday before booms day, our pastor started a series on Psalm 23:4 written by David about “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”. And it was words I would hang onto during the toughest week of my life. It was also an example of how God is good.
When real trouble sets in on us, things get real all the hang in cat poster, cs lewis quotes in the world won’t easy pain, struggle and pressure coming your way. You also start to demystify God and Jesus it gets boiled down to the truth. God is not going to poof away your problem no matter how much you go facedown not he floor to pray away the issues. He does something real, He shows up. Since all this began friends began to call some who caught wind of what we are going through Best friend Bill Power every faith full checking on me everyday, Mark Solomon, Chris Wible texting me, Friend Peter Noble hunted me down day one would not take no for an answer until I would meet him face to face. Mike and Missy Wilson texting from Haiti, People texting me emailing me, checking on me some who did not know whats going on God put me and Tiffany on their heart. Old friends like John Paul mays, and band mate Clint Mcbay. Friends to my family like Matt and Lori fine checking on us, Stephanie caldwell. Tiffany’s parents my parents, I list these names you don’t know to show evidence that God was sending encouragement through people helping to prop us up.
I remember when I was going through my divorce 16 years ago, people would tell me, “I’m praying for you man” and I would say in my oh so sarcastic glass half empty way, “well you're not praying hard enough because I’m getting may ass kicked”. I was in a much different place back then but I think when we reach out to others and all we have is words to give it’s how GOD talks to us. If you're waiting for that 10 commandments Charlton Heston Morgan Freeman voice from the sky to speak and give you the road map. It’s not coming it’s not how God works. He uses people and our connection to one another to encourage, to help give guidance, He uses random acts of outward living from other people to help lead the way.
I want to tell you from my current vantage point that what God desires from us the whole time is a relationship, for us to press in seek him and you will never pray harder then when the shit hits fan. When your feet are touching the fire and you are looking for a miracle God please save me from this. God is telling you in many ways and channels “I got this”. But your keep struggling to believe it because the water is rising, your in the lions den, the enemy is at the gate seeking your life wanting blood. You finally reach the point of surrender, Some believe GOD does these things to us. I don’t I believe GOD allows circumstances and challenges to naturally take its course and push us back to him. It’s the only answer, because drinking, drug using, sexing your way, or wallowing in despair while temporary numbness can be achieved the answer will slip further and further away by not stopping and trusting GOD even when it looks ugly and dark.
Tiffany told me a week ago don’t look at everything on the whole but just take it one day at a time and one problem at a time. Press in and let GOD give comfort, let GOD make the way clearer. There is no Hocus Pokus Harry Potter wave of the wand answer. It will suck, it will look ugly but GOD meets us there in our humility, in our humanity and once we let go and keep our faith GOD begins to do his thing, it’s the only way to recovery, the only answer to gaining ground, it’s the only way to be made whole.
While today I can’t see the path, I don’t see clear answers, with each baby step, with each movement towards him toward the next step the picture begins to change shape, the colors start to fill in the grey. And it will be about accomplishing todays goals even if they are small and simple. The first Day I was dealing with everything my default impulse is retreat! I stopped eating, stopped sleeping stop drinking coffee, stopped shaving heart aching and with massive pressure toiled away trying to find the silver bullet the answer. On day two sitting on my couch I was heading for a second day of retreat, when my wife called me and said “Mike get of the couch, go take a shower drive to your office and start working on the problem”
Seems obvious I know but in the heat of the moment you're standing on the edge of total panic and collapse. But you dig in, your take the hard phone calls and you pray your heart out and take baby steps.
So why am I making this podcast series on Hardship? Why while I'm in the lions Den am I broadcasting my thoughts? I think it’s easy to have big proclamations of Faith, Love and Hope in a GOD and savior when things are going well and you're planning your next trip to the beach or to Disney. But it’s a more meaningful testimony when the darkness is setting in and water is rising on you, to profess that even in great distress I believe GOD is Good always.