Recently, or rather over the past year, I’ve been pushed to a particular place. I am generally a very dramatic, emotional girl, but in this place suddenly I find more drama than I’m comfortable with, and more intensity than I knew I was capable of. I don’t like being in this place, because it makes me feel needy and defeated. It’s no longer like it used to be, a couple of years ago. A simple prayer doesn’t make it better, calling a friend doesn’t take away the pain, even scripture takes time to sink in. I feel like I am the only waitress in a packed restaurant, having to pick everyone’s plates and serve the whole restaurant – all at once, without a break.
Life has been harder than ever, and I’ve been more desperate than ever. I’ve lived in this place of desperation for so long now, I can barely remember what is was like before this.
At first I was very uncomfortable here. I would get scared and panic. I don’t deserve it, but I do have a wonderful community, and one that is not afraid to step into my panic, or invite me into their own. Slowly I realised that there was a safe place to fall, to talk about the hard things, the heart of things. But most of all, a safe place to consider and to wrestle with truths: Christ is our help, Christ is our hope, Christ sees it all.
But the desperation didn’t stop, because there was so much more to be lost. The more I lost, the more I panicked. My soul raged with questions, and these questions, I could not dare utter to another soul. My prayers became screams. I could have cried all the waters in the world, but it wouldn’t be enough. This was not a place I could invite anybody. Desperate, so desperate.
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
With reckless abandon, I asked and I pleaded. I had never dared to be this honest with God, but I pleaded with the only one who could meet me in that place – and He did. And He wasn’t just with me, He was hurting with me. I had no idea how much He could hurt with me. I had no idea how much He wept with me. Why don’t we have more posters, more books, more songs about Jesus weeping with us? Finding Him there, in that pain with me, my eyes were opened to His deep, perfect love for me. Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus. Unless we see how much is lost, and how much there is to be lost, we don’t know how much can be found in Him.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
For a moment I thought I could get used to this place of desperation. Until the next moment, when my soul was hit afresh, and I was so tired. My own wickedness overwhelmed me. I was tired of dealing with my own insecurities, dealing with my own heart. I did want to see change, but I felt utterly drained of resources to keep trying. How long, O God? Answer me. My questions increased, and in my desperation, I began to fast – quite extremely. While at it, wrestling, I found what I needed. It wasn’t answers, or direction, or basically anything I had imagined. It was a taste, just a drop of the satisfaction I can have only in Christ. I didn’t need to starve myself, I didn’t need to beg or plead, I could just take it for granted. There was something that could satisfy this desperation, and I had tasted it. Christ truly is enough.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
Times of desperation are often preceded by times of loss. Sometimes this loss is of things that are clearly unhelpful to us. Like habits and sin patterns and places and relationships that are toxic. In such cases it is so much easier to see the rationale and to understand why it is good for them to be taken away. It’s not hard to reconcile with such loss. But what about family – the one that sat around the table and said grace together? What about that friend who was closer than a sister? What about jobs that allowed us to carry out the calling that God himself placed in our hearts? What about marriages that God had bound together? What about health, used sincerely to serve God? It really is more baffling, and scary when it seems like what is lost had some impression of Christ’s favour. Or at the very least within what we call common grace. But sometimes these “good places” are the easiest ones to make hiding places, dwelling places. And when they fall to the ground, when they are lost, we are back to the desperate place.
I’ve heard a lot of thuds, seen a lot of collapses over this past year. It’s been a perfect crescendo. I know that as there are all kinds of seasons and maybe tomorrow I will feel stop feeling like a frenzied waitress in a restaurant, but like a shepherd girl strolling along quiet, still waters. But this I know: no matter, the landscape, the calling, or how things feel and look, I will be desperate. Dramatically, or very very quietly, I will be desperate.
But even to know I am desperate, is a revelation. The childlike honesty with Christ is now part of our relationship. The friends who have watched and walked with me, are witnesses. I reflect on the year gone by and I remember these things. I remember the One who has been my only help. Like the Psalmist, this thirsty soul now clings. It clings because it has found the only One who truly fills.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling onto you, your right hand upholds me.
But I don’t see it all, it doesn’t all fit together or make sense. I see glimpses. I see in part how much Christ hurts with me, I see a drop of his measureless love for me. I feel a touch of His healing hand, I only taste of the sweetness to be satisfied in Him. I see glimpses in the desperate place.
So let there be loss, and let me be desperate. Bring me back to that desperate place. What if glimpse by glimpse, I will find my way home? What if glimpse by glimpse, I will see His face? Oh, let me desperate, until I see face to face.
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