Celebration in the Middle

I’m in awe that I’m writing a celebratory post in this season.

Over the last couple of years I have done my fair share of praying for rescue. I have been waiting and grieving and dealing with confusion. If you have been following along with our family’s journey, you know that we have been hurting. We have shared openly about some aspects and been wrestling with God privately about others.

Currently, our circumstances are largely the same;

however, God recently rescued me from my season of despair.

Before this new season, I identified with the Psalmists who pleaded with God for relief. I saw myself in their words.

Restore us, O God of hosts;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Psalm 80:7 (ESV)

But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high! I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 69:29-30 (ESV)

As for me, I am poor and needy,
    but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
    do not delay, O my God!

Psalm 40:17 (ESV)

Unfortunately, though, I only identified with the first half of every statement. “God, restore me.” “God, I am afflicted and in pain.” “God, I am poor and needy.” I was waiting on the day where I would be able to rejoice as these writers were.

I agreed with the sentiment in Psalm 69: “I will praise the name of God with a song!”

In other words, “I will praise Him someday! Just not now.”

I attached this future rejoicing to drastic changes in circumstance. I figured that once I got pregnant, I would start singing praises. Once I was able to use my gifts more, I would be filled with gladness. While I was halfheartedly attempting to worship in the meantime, I didn’t believe I would experience joy in full until my situation was very different.

In short, my prayers were variations of “God, something’s gotta give.”

God had better plans for me, of course.

His plans brought me to where I am as I write today: Same family of two. Same job. Same heartaches. Same routines. Same house. Same limitations.

My heart is just drastically different, and it wasn’t my own doing.

One of my favorite illustrations of our role in heart change is that of tending a garden. Meaning, just as with a garden, we can do everything right to produce spiritual fruit, but we can’t actually make it grow. We water our faith with the Word, sit under the sunlight of God’s presence, spend time in the fertilizer of community, and still, we are unable to produce growth in our hearts. God alone must change us from the inside out and mold us more into His likeness.

He did this in my life. When we were in the thick of it, all I could do was hang on for dear life and do my best to keep up on spiritual disciplines.

Then, gradually and without warning, my heart softened. I didn’t do anything different, I didn’t have a huge epiphany, and I certainly have not found the ultimate secret to total contentment.

God did it. He knew the best time for my tiny seeds of faith to sprout the beginnings of new fruit.

All this to say: His rescue won’t always look like we expect. It’s likely we won’t get what we want. We might be asked to keep waiting, and it will probably still be difficult.

Thankfully, He is a God who can meet us smack dab in the middle of our journey and make our hearts moldable. He can blow us away with His kindness, and He promises to continue making us into something new and beautiful.

He did this for me, and my heart has started to sing the second half of the Psalms. I know now for certain that the Lord thinks of me. I know He is my help and deliverer. I have experienced this grace in my life firsthand.

I believe my Savior when he says in the book of Matthew:

“Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.”

Matthew 9:22 (ESV)

My faith has made me well. While the woman who touched his garment in this passage was physically healed, I have received spiritual rescue. My reaching out to Him has never been a waste.

This is the Jesus we serve and love, believer. He is a Rescuer.

Hang on and keep seeking Him. I’m confident He will show up at just the right time.