Down this path through PTSD and all its accompanying memories, anxiety attacks, and stark fear, I have had times of conflicting emotions: wanting to give up, frustration with myself, frustration with God, wanting it all to go away or end, and so on.
Simply put, I’m a mess.
Knowing that only frustrates me more. Realizing that I cannot will myself into not being a mess escalates things and my failure to do so spirals me into all sorts of unhealthy behaviors.
Nor am I unaware of how frustrating I must be to those around me these days.
That’s the ugly truth.
Last night was a nightmare…from the time I arrived home from work on.
Bits of memories came together into one horrific one.
And nothing could distract me from it. Nothing. And that wasn’t from lack of effort on my part.
One of the most difficult parts of all this is that I believe God has the power to change my situation. Not erase what’s already happened, but ease the current struggle and pain and anxiety with it all. I know He has the power. I read about it all the time…Elijah putting his cloak down and the sea parting, Elisha and the woman with the oil, the parting of the Red Sea, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, Jesus’s death and resurrection, and so many more.
I know He can yet He keeps me waiting.
Don’t misread…I’m not angry, I just don’t understand. And even though I know I don’t have to understand, and even though I believe He will take care of me, it’s hard in the middle of those moments when it feels like I’m reliving those horrors and their aftermath. Even if I know there’s a reason that’s far more and better than I could possibly comprehend.
This morning I was reading in Isaiah 30 and came across this verse
Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the LORD is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:18 ESV)
If you go to the whole chapter you’ll notice I’m not mentioning the stubborn children and rebellious people section although I sadly freely admit both apply. I’ve talked before about my refusal to face and deal with things and I’ve talked before about my preference for things to go my way if at all possible.
The Lord waits to be gracious…and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy”
My initial response to “waits to be gracious” was not very positive because it seemed to me on first reading to confirm my frustration that God is withholding something from me.
Then I watched someone handle a stubborn and defiant child today…with great patience, love and mercy instead of meting out anything punitive to immediately stop it this person hovered close and allowed the child to struggle (loudly I might add) with the choices before him. At one point as he thrashed around he threw himself at her and she immediately closed her arms around him and held him as he rested briefly before plunging back into the futile struggle. As she held him, she stroked his hair and murmured reassuring and loving words…”you can make a good choice, you can do it, I love you and am here with you.” She didn’t force him, but in mercy, waited to be gracious to him.
Isn’t that how it is when I’m impatiently making demands of God? He waits patiently, with tender mercy, for me to exhaust myself and surrender to Him so He can be gracious to me? It’s not that He doesn’t want to…it’s that I’m not ready to accept it choosing instead to struggle for control.
At one point last night in between two particularly bad moments I felt Him so close, enveloping me and trying to reassure me that I thought my heart might burst. Hope swelled within me at the thought that He is waiting with me, holding me, and murmuring reassurances to me that He is here, even in those darkest of moments, and will not let me go.
Hope that maybe if I can just learn to hold tightly to Him and quietly trust, all will be well again one day.
For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15 ESV)