Though absolutely nothing compares to the day we buried the tiny body of our precious son, the last few weeks have been incredibly difficult. We have been under tremdendous spiritual attack, and life has felt like one trial after another. We’ve been dealing with a very stressful financial conflict, a deeply painful relational one, and we’ve started to wake up each morning saying, “God, what suffering is next?” I wonder if this is what Job must have felt, when, still reeling from the news of his children’s death, in marches more bad news.
In the midst of all of this, it is of course, our trust in God and His goodness that has felt the most shaken. But isn’t that always the case for us frail humans? Our relationship with God is ultimately what Satan is after in every one of our trials and sorrows. Each battle is a battle for the soul. Satan, with hopes to steal, kill, and destroy, and God with plans to heal and restore.
This all sounds reasonable on paper, but in real life there’s blood everywhere. And in the lowest moments my broken and bloodied heart has cried out, “Where are you God? Can I even trust You anymore!” I’ve had moments where I’ve seriously thought to myself, “Maybe I can’t trust Him. My baby’s body is laying in the ground, my heart feels broken beyond repair, and meanwhile the hits just keep on coming. Maybe I shouldn’t keep walking with you Lord.” And each time that thought has come to mind, an Enrique Inglesias song blares in my head.
Perhaps I should backtrack. My senior year of college was filled with trials. They weren’t of the magnitude we are walking through now, but they were still very painful and there came a point when I wasn’t sure I really wanted to trust God and walk with Him. I had a very honest chat with the Lord and told Him what He already knew…and then something very interesting happened.
I was talking with a friend and she was telling me about this new guy who was pursuing her. She was interested in him, but feeling so broken from a previous relationship that she just felt like she had nothing to give. He had called her that day and when she hung up she had stared at the phone and said, “God, If you want this relationship to happen, You’re going to have to make him fight for me.”
The moment she said it, I knew that that was where I was at with God. And so I prayed, “God, if you want me, you’re going to have to fight for me, because I am so weary and broken and have nothing left to give.”
And you know what…He did. Immediately, and over time, God continually fought for my heart.
Earlier that summer I had been working at a surf shop and the song of the summer was good old Enrique’s “Escape.” All summer long, I’d dust off surf boards, hand out surf reports, sell shell necklaces, and listen to Enrique’s words, “If you feel like leaving, I’m not going to make you stay. But soon you’ll be finding, you can run, you can hide, but you can’t escape my love.” All. Summer. Long. I got so sick of it. But that fall, when I asked God to fight for me, every time He did…it’s like He was saying, “See…you can’t escape my love.”
The week I prayed the “Fight For Me” prayer, I was visiting the office of my favorite professor. He asked me how my summer had been, and I gave him the glass-half-full version. I didn’t once mention to him that God and I were barely on speaking terms. When I finished my shiny summer recap, he said, “Misty Leigh, it sounds like you had a great summer. And please don’t be angry, but the Lord has put something on my heart so I’m just going to step out in faith and say it.” And then he said, “Misty, do not give up on God. If you fell away from the Lord you would fall very far and very hard and take a lot of people down with you.”
Cue the music. There it is again, that crazy Enrique song.
Ok… God. You have my attention.
My professors unsuspecting words were just one of the countless ways that I saw God fighting for my heart over those next few months. And, that’s how it’s been over these last few months as well. It has been pitch black darkness as the battle rages on in the unseen spiritual world. And we have been acutely aware of the battle for our souls. But we have also seen the God we can’t escape, lovingly fight for us.
I share this story because I think it’s one of the dirty little secrets of Christendom that we Christians don’t struggle to walk with Christ. But we just plain do. We struggle when we’re in college with college-sized battles, we struggle when we’re parents broken and grieving from the loss of a child, and some of us may struggle even on our death bed.
And how do I know this is a universal problem…because even the disciples struggled to follow Jesus. Jesus’ lonely, almost friendless suffering on the cross is a perfect example. Where were His friends?
But we are not without hope. In the last few agonizing months there is one story that God has continued to bring up to my heart. It’s recorded in John 6:67-69. A number of Jesus’ followers had just turned away from walking with him. They realized they couldn’t box Him up like they had thought they could, and so…they gave up on God. Jesus then turns to his disciples and asks, “Do you want to go away as well?” And Peter replies, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
And that’s exactly how I’ve felt in my lowest moments since baby Charlie’s death. “Lord, I am broken, and struggling, and some days it is so hard to keep trusting You…But honestly, where else would I go?
I am convinced that YOU have the words that give eternal life and hope.
I am convinced that Your presence and love have been the best part of the darkest nights of my soul.
And I’m convinced that YOU…in spite of all that You have taken away…are still continuing day after day to fight for our hearts.”
I firmly believe that it’s in the deepest darkness that we most clearly see the truth that we are not indeed, the ones holding our relationship with God together. It is Him. All Him. The One whose love we cannot escape. The God who loved us all the way to the cross.
Do not give up on Him dear friends. I am here to testify that in the most paralyzingly dark moments of life… God is still God. And He longs to fight for us.
I have had good reason to question if He will…and even greater reasons to believe that He does.