sun and shield

So, I have this tendency to completely avoid anything that hurts my feelings or makes me upset. Ask any of my longtime friends… conflict is only a pain I endure if I love you deep enough to put my hatred of confrontation temporarily behind me, and a lot of times it looks like me saying, “Hi, this hurt me, BYE.” Which, as you probably know, isn’t the best way to go about it. Thank God for the people that love me enough to (kindly) force me to talk about my feelings.

And after this past month, I noticed a whole bunch of anger stirred up in my heart… not frustration or exhaustion, my anger was only masked by the frustration and exhaustion that followed me around in the month of April. No, this was fiery, scary anger… mostly scary because I don’t really get angry and I have no idea what to do with anger LOL like where do I put it? What do I do with it? How do I extinguish it? I’m unsure. So, I sat down a few days ago and journaled out everything, and because I know I avoid everything that hurts me, I decided to make a list of every single thing I’ve been subconsciously avoiding. I’ve been avoiding certain friends, places, situations, and most of all… my Bible. I’ve avoided journaling. I’ve avoided praying. Basically, I’ve been subconsciously avoiding Jesus for the past month.

So, after a gigantic amount of beachy soul-searching, what I found was this: I’m angry at Jesus because my heart sinfully questions Him as my Provider. How silly is that? He’s provided for me time and time again, and yet in my heart of hearts I’ve believed the lie that there is a better, easier, more fulfilling way to live that Jesus has simply refused me. And through avoiding the confrontation of my feelings with a Father who knows me intimately and cares for me deeply, I’ve buried a seed of bitterness deep inside my soul and watered it with lies until it sprouted roots and bloomed into full-fledged anger. And here we sit. Thank goodness for the promises of God for days such as these.

“The Lord is a sun and a shield, he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” Psalm 84:11

How incredible is that? The Lord is a sun and shield. It makes me think of how He led the Israelites through the desert… with fire by night, like the sun lighting the way, and cloud by day to shield His people like the ultimate sunscreen. Sun and shield. Guidance and protection. Kindness abounding. But He also promises favor and honor, even assures us that He doesn’t withhold good from His babes, ones who obey and follow Him.

And yet, when we look at the story of the Israelites who literally lived under the cloud of God’s protection, walked by the flame of His guidance, and ate the literal bread of angels, we don’t see a group of thankful, happy-go-lucky cross country campers. We see unfaithful, ungrateful children toddling about, complaining that they were missing all they really cared about: meat and veggies. They questioned God as their Provider. They questioned His goodness, assumed that surely He was in heaven smugly snuggling all the fluffy animals they wanted to devour and only giving them His second best. They believed that there was a better, easier, more fulfilling way to reach the Promised Land that God had simply refused them, so anger spilled out of their hearts and filled the air they breathed… sound familiar?

Friends, disappointments in life are inevitable. We’re human and sometimes we really, really crave a treat that we haven’t been given… and maybe one that’s been given to everyone we know. And back-to-back-to-back disappointments have a way of beating a soul down… I’m well aware that even the most cheery of optimists can have a hard time continually looking at the bright side when they feel like they never can just rest in a season of a hope fulfilled. I know that because that’s where I sit. That’s where my doubt of God’s provision and anger stem from. But choosing to remember God’s promises is the only way to press through in faithful endurance on days when doubt shouts lies at us, promising that the only reasonable option is anger and justifies our sinful ungratefulness. The promises and the Word of God are the safe places we can run to teach our souls to rely on the strength of our Dad who rests us between His shoulders. The Truth is where we go to set straight our deceitful hearts, to anchor our souls through the storms of life.

Buds, the truth is that our Father is good, bestowing on us honor and favor. Our Father is kind, exchanging our sackcloths for crowns of joy. And our God is merciful, loving us too much to give us good earthly gifts that would steal our eternity and instead gives us the perfect and most satisfying gift: His presence and all of the joy, strength, compassion, peace, and love that our hearts can hold. On the hard days, the days full of tears and anxiety and disappointments, we need to cling to the promises of the One that loves us more than anyone else ever could and we’ll make it through this life… one faithful step at a time.

All my love,

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