I am learning to depend on Jesus in a way I never have really experienced before. I described it to someone as, “I’m depending on the Lord in a whole new way. A, like, not cute way. More of a desperate way.” I told another friend this and we decided: nobody needs cute faith. Cute faith is fun for Instagram but will not hold you up when your world has been destroyed. Cute faith is good for the summer camp highs but will not offer you the strength and grace and courage to continue on when the storms of life hit.
You might read some sorrow in these words, and you’d be right. I have been walking through a really hard thing recently that I’m not really ready to share with the “world.” But I still think there are some things I am learning that can be shared, and I never want God’s grace to me to be in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1). So whatever you might be walking through, and whatever “level” of hard it might be, I hope this is a gift to you.
I have been living in Psalm 18, a beautiful story of God rescuing and caring for David in the midst of attack. The word picture of verse 16-17, “He drew me out of deep waters, He rescued me…” has resonated in moments where I felt like I was drowning in my grief and needed saving. In verse 19 it says, “He brought me out into a spacious place, He rescued me because He delighted in me.” Just like the Israelites, we are consistently experiencing God’s rescue and deliverance. We are often found in bondage, and He brings us into the wilderness to escape. And yet, this wilderness is not the promised land. That is a future destination. This is the in between. We spend much of our earthly lives in the wilderness, experiencing mere glimpses of the promised land that we will eventually enjoy. The wilderness is a powerful picture all throughout Scripture, for many different reasons. We see the Israelites there, Jesus spends time there, Paul too. It is often a place of great wrestling, of “doing business” with God. It is a place of enormous growth and equipping. The wilderness is where God meets us. It is often hard, heartbreaking, life-changing, and altogether transformative. We should not come out of the wilderness the same. It is not a place for cute faith, it is meant to cultivate desperate faith.
Here is the reminder that, in our places of desperation, we have to remember: Psalm 18:30 says, “As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” I have needed to remind myself of this constantly. It is one thing to say, “God’s ways are good.” It isn’t just that. His ways are perfect. If I am honest, this feels a bit like a kick in the gut right now. We hardly know how to digest that idea because perfection is such a stranger to us. His plans are good, but more, they are perfect. That means, if I had a different plan, mine was not perfect. It wasn’t right. That is really hard to accept sometimes. But the Lord’s word says it, and that verse continues with: The Lord’s word is flawless. There is just no way around it, His ways are better and higher than ours, and we have to come to terms with that even when everything in us disagrees.
I guess what I ultimately want to say is that just a little while ago, I was not sure there was any surviving the “many waters” that were consuming me. I wasn’t positive that I believed that God would rescue me. But with each day, He really does. He is “rebuilding our ruins, one by one.” When we cling to Him with desperate faith, He holds us up. As we pound on His chest in frustration and heartbreak, He has open arms for the moment we exhaust ourselves. There really is beauty always to be found. Maybe not right away. In moments of deep grief, I really believe it is okay to be right where you are and not have to find the horizon from the bottom of the landfill. But what I thought was impossible, to experience JOY again, showed me that our God really is the God of the impossible. I found that sadness and JOY are like air, they are unavoidable and entirely intertwined. The storms will continue to come, and every one is an invitation to trust the God whose way is perfect. It is an opportunity to fall into His arms instead of turning away from Him in bitterness.
I watched a friend’s children get in a fight the other day. The sister hurt the brother, and when she went to apologize a few minutes later (after a talk with her Dad), the brother shoved her off and said, “no.” He wouldn’t accept it. And in that moment, I thought, yeah, I get it. We might not always respond to God’s invitations the “right” way immediately. I think there is grace for that. But in the spacious places, in the wilderness, we are learning to come back to Him. We are invited to trust Him and fill our hearts with grace and trust instead of bitterness and anger.
He doesn’t promise us everything we want in life. But He does promise to be with us—and that must be enough, if it’s what He offers. If you need it, here is permission to let faith look different than what it has looked like before. If you need it (and you do), lean into Him with desperate faith, no matter what it looks like or what it requires of you. He promises to meet us where we are, and if He has brought you to a “spacious place,” a wilderness, You know He is there with you.