“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.”
I Peter 1:3-9
Thursday morning, I wrote of being blue. I wrote of grieving. I shared a tiny glimpse into my last several months. I wrote of feeling directionless, passionless, at a loss.
I’ve identified with suffering in the last few months. I’ve experienced testing. It’s been a tough go.
Friday evening, after a draining day of grieving, I read Romans 15:13 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
I realized then that I couldn’t conjure up joy or peace or hope. But God is the God of hope. He is able to fill me with all joy and peace. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I can not just experience hope, but abound in hope.
Saturday evening, I was reading Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler’s On Grief and Grieving. In a section on denial, the authors say: “There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle.” I laughed a bit as I read it, noting their mis-attribution. Nature has no role in this. But I can see the gracious providence of God as I’ve walked through some of the various stages of grieving. God has provided me with everything I need, and has apportioned the seasons of my grieving as He wills in order to accomplish His good purposes.
And then this morning, I was curling my hair and reading blogs when I came across the oddest Easter morning post. Jon Acuff at Stuff Christians Like wrote “You’re not naked.” He wrote of Adam and Eve sinning and hiding from God–and God’s question to them. “Who told you that you were naked?”
“There is hurt in God’s voice as He asks this question, but there is also a deep sadness, the sense of a father holding a daughter that has for the first time ever, wrapped herself in shame.
Who told you that you were not enough?
Who told you that I didn’t love you?
Who told you that there was something outside of me you needed?
Who told you that you were ugly?
Who told you that your dream was foolish?
Who told you that you would never have a child?
Who told you that you would never be a father?
Who told you that you weren’t a good mother?
Who told you that without a job you aren’t worth anything?
Who told you that you’ll never know love again?
Who told you that this was all there is?
Who told you that you were naked?”
I saw the valley I’ve been walking through and it was as if I heard the voice of God: “Who told you that this valley would be forever?”
Acuff ended his post with these words:
“But in response to what you are hearing from everyone else, God is still asking the question, “Who told you that you were naked?”
And He’s still asking us that question because we are not.
In Christ we are not worthless.
In Christ we are not hopeless.
In Christ we are not dumb or ugly or forgotten.
In Christ we are not naked.
Isaiah 61:10 it says: “For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.”
The world may try to tell you a thousand different things today. You might close this post and hear a million declarations of what you are or who you’ll always be, but know this.
As unbelievable as it sounds and as much as I never expected to type this sentence on this blog:
You are not naked.”
The truth is, I am not without hope. This valley will not be forever. So I have had a glimpse of identifying with the death of Christ–but I have also and shall also identify with His resurrection.
Through His resurrection, I have been begotten again to a living hope–and when the trial is over, I shall praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Weeping may endure for a long night, but joy comes in the morning.