My life has been all about treading water lately. Just in case you are not a swimmer, treading water is a way to stay afloat without swimming. Your arms and legs are in constant motion but you are not actually moving forward or backward. The purpose is to stay in an upright position without drowning. Thankfully, I have never had to use this skill in the water, but it’s how I have been living my life for the past several months. I am almost 8 months pregnant. According to Google I am 7.589 months pregnant but whenever I am pregnant it makes me feel better to round up. So anyways, I am 8 months pregnant (basically) with our first baby boy. I am a stay at home mom with three beautiful girls ranging from ages 2 through 9 and I am married to a wonderful man who would probably be declared a saint if the world knew what Pregnant Sherry is like. Truth be told, in recent days, I have modeled the Proverbs 21 woman more than the revered Proverbs 31 woman.
Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman. Proverbs 21:9
Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman. Proverbs 21:19
I don’t think my husband would necessarily use those two verses to describe life with me (he still has to live with me) but if everything that was in my heart came out during certain times of stress, even he would be rendered speechless. It’s not so much that I am angry at the world, but I have so many underlying concerns and stresses right now that sometimes a simple speed bump looks like Mount Everest to me and I cannot always handle it as a mature Christian should.
This past week has been especially hard. After the kids and my husband have fallen asleep I have basically fallen apart. I have cried myself to sleep more often than not. I have told God that I am angry with Him because of everything that is going on around me and affecting me. While the rest of the house is snoring I have been quietly ranting and shaking my fist at God with tears streaming down my face. I felt I have been patiently enduring one trial after another over the past few months but now am too weak to continue on like this. The other night during one of these rants, it occurred to me how lonely I was. So, I then got upset with God that I could be lonely.
It is kind of a ridiculous concept when you live with four other people, have a big extended family, close friends and a church family that you interact with at least three times a week. But loneliness is not just about being physically alone; it is about feeling alone. My loneliness stemmed from not having another human being around that could relate entirely to my situation. Of my many friends and family, some can relate to my ultimate desire and the struggle to serve and honor the Lord with my life, others can relate to the difficulties of being pregnant with other small children, some know what it’s like to have a husband that wants to be able to rely on you to keep things going at home so that he can do what God has called him to do outside the home. However, none of my family and friends have the same mix of concerns that I do and so I felt alone.
So that night, as I told God over and over again that I was lonely He kept telling me to pick up my Bible which was sitting on the nightstand within arms reach. I simply replied, “No.” I said it over and over again. I knew God was calling me to pick up the Bible to hear from Him but I kept refusing. I had good reasons. I told Him that I did not want to read my Bible because it was going to show me more areas where I was lacking. I could not deal with additional evidence supporting the fact that I am an unfit and weak wife, mother, and Christian. I could clearly see those things just by looking back at my day. As I cried, I recalled verses and stories in the Bible that repeated the truth that God understands our feelings and our weaknesses. I knew that in theory I was not alone but I had this feeling that if I had to read something that would bring me lower, I would lose my confidence in God too.
Eventually, I relented and picked up my Bible. I had already prayed/cried myself through half a box of tissues so it was time for me to suck it up and listen. I wasn’t really sure where to turn. I had two choices. On my own time I have been been studying the book of Daniel and in our family reading we have been in the book of Proverbs. I decided to turn to Proverbs 30 which is the chapter we were to read next. Verse one started by explaining who the author of the proverb was and here’s what I read in the verses that followed as I searched for comfort in God’s Word:
Surely I am more stupid than any man, and do not have the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdom nor have knowledge of the Holy One. Proverbs 30:2-3
I rolled my eyes and cynically thought “Great, God agrees that I am stupid.” However, as I kept reading I realized God was going to begin speaking to me by giving me some much needed perspective. Here’s a little bit more:
Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son’s name. If you know? Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Proverbs 30:4-5
After reading the entire chapter I didn’t feel immediately better but there was something different. I cried and prayed a little bit more and then went to sleep. Each night after has been better. After meditating on these verses for a couple of days here’s what He has made evident to me. There is only One Creator of the universe and He also created me. It’s okay to feel lonely, but not okay to think that I am alone. If God doesn’t give me a friend that can relate to my exact situation then it is because He doesn’t want me to go to them for help. He wants me to go to and wait on Him for help.
A lot of times Christians like to comfort a friend who is having a hard time by telling them that God won’t give someone more than they can handle. The truth is that’s not in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that God does not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle because He will always provide us with a way out if we choose to take it. With regard to suffering, the Bible tells us that we will suffer, we will have trials and we will be persecuted. But that’s not all it says either. Here are just a few things God tells us about suffering:
God is near.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2
God is active.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
We are to wait on Him.
But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
We are to place our hope in Him.
Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His Holy name. Let your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You. Psalm 33:20-22
In the English language, we use the word “hope” so much that we don’t recognize the gravity of the word when it’s used in the Bible. When the Bible uses the word “hope” it refers to trusting in something that is a sure thing. That’s different than, I hope I get the test results I want. God’s grace is a sure thing and so is His mercy. When you go through periods in your life when you are just barely treading water, don’t give up but hope in Him. Tell Him what is wrong, ask for help and then wait. His answer and the solution to all of your problems may not come at once and most likely will not come according to your timetable, but it will come. It seems fitting to end this with a reminder of the last recorded words by Jesus in the book of Matthew:
“…and lo, I am with you always, even to the ends of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:20b