Lamentations 3:17a “I have been deprived of peace”
In the beginning while still in the hospital I told myself I was gong to be real with my grief. It was an easy decision to make. I had to be real, because I had to express what I was going through. It was the only way I could cope. (If you don’t know my story read – here, here, here, here, or here. To read other things I've learned on my journey read here, or here).
Because of some of the things I’ve been through, I’ve come to prize honesty and sincerity in others. They are not traits I run into as often as I’d like, but they are ones I highly value. So in the interest of being real, honest and sincere myself, I’ll share something with you I’d rather keep hidden.
Shortly after the accident God blessed me with immeasurable peace. My life was falling apart around me, and though it was extremely painful I had peace. It was the first time in my life I truly understood the phrase “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7)
Several months ago I lost my peace. It happened slowly. So slowly I did not even notice what was happening. By the time I did notice, it was too late. Stress, frustration, worry and fear were controlling me. The result, bitterness was setting in. I felt like every aspect of my life was spinning out of control, and the harder I tried to maintain control, the worse it got. The bitterness grew.
Soon the bitterness became an open door for the enemy to add his bitter thoughts to my mind. I knew the thoughts were not mine, but I was powerless to stop them. Thoughts like “what kind of God creates people so they will praise him”.
Side bar: As I was writing this post it dawned on me that praise was the place the enemy chose to attack. Praise was one area of my life that became important to me after the accident. I would go to church and sing praise songs, and I could feel the grief change. I would pour out my grief in song and God would fill me with his peace. Praise was how I fixed my trust on God.
But now it was being attacked. I was in such a state I was unable to stop the thoughts and they kept coming. It was frustrating because while I knew the thoughts were wrong, I had no answer. I was bitter.
I struggled with letting go of control, I knew that’s what needed to happen, but I didn’t want to let go. Eventually I began to release the stranglehold of control I had on my life, and things improved a little. But somewhere I was still holding on tight. Once I was able to fully let go, things in my life started to fall into place. But the bitterness was still there, lingering.
A few days ago I finally sat down to do my devotions, a practice I’d been neglecting. Oddly enough the devotional was on bitterness. It was during this time I realized I had been letting stress and fear control me. Once I realized this, I could feel the bitterness that had wrapped itself around my heart let go as well. For the first time in months I began to feel peace again.
The thoughts on praise still plagued me. Though they’d lost some of their power, I still did not have an answer. The other day I was driving and began to really take notice of the scenery around me. I noticed the tress and the many different varieties that lined the freeway. I thought about what I’ve been learning in school about the brain and how intricate and complex it is. I thought about the many little things it takes to keep the world spinning and how the world sustains itself. I thought about the vastness of the universe and the majesty of the mountains. God made all these things. From the microscopic neurons in my brain to the stunning mountains I love so much, to the universe so vast we can never discover it all. The God who made all that loves me, he loves me! When you really think about it, it’s darned humbling. He created the entire universe and yet I have not escaped his attention. Praise isn’t about “God getting his due”, it’s about me expressing my amazement that he even bothers with me, at all. It’s about my feeble efforts to return the love God has so lavishly expressed on me.
As I was driving all this was going through my head. I happened to look out the window to my left, and I saw the most brilliant double rainbow I’ve ever seen and felt like God put it there just for me. In that moment my peace returned.