This whole quarantine thing is both the worst and also something I never want to end. Is that bad to say?
I truthfully spend a lot of days in tears. It’s so very hard to feel trapped in solitary confinement as I still mourn the loss of my dad and sit clueless about what my life is going to look like after this. I either spend my days zooming from one activity to the next as I use this time to set up my art business or sulking on my floor, basking in hopelessness and feelings of abandonment. There is no in-between.
And yet I am deeply afraid of what life is going to look like after this. Am I going to be working three jobs because of my time at home allowing me to open my business earlier than expected? How am I gonna rest? How am I gonna breathe? Am I gonna be living with this many anxiety attacks as I face real life again? How is this going to work? I feel like I can’t see past the stuckness of this phase… and yet the few things that I can envision are causing me to believe that this next season is going to be even worse than the present one. I just have this feeling that I’m going to be thrown back into working my days away and fighting for joy in the midst of exhaustion yet again. My heart is growing weary of the uneven paces that it’s been forced to run… feeling either extremely rushed or extremely stuck and not really thriving in either environment and praying that someday soon I can strike a happy medium.
It’s caused me to look up at Jesus with tears in my eyes as I ask Him why this has to be so difficult. I ask Him over and over again why I’m never given a season of rest, or why I’m never given a hope fulfilled. Essentially, I’m asking Jesus why He isn’t making it easy on me, if not even just for a moment in time… and the continual “no”s that I keep getting have caused my heart to dwell in borderline bitterness. But then I read this passage, and my eyes were opened to the goodness of God in times such as these.
“And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”Zechariah 13:9
In this passage, God is talking about what He’s choosing to do with His unfaithful people. He could have rightfully condemned all of them, they had broken His covenant and worshipped other gods, and yet the Lord keeps one third of them to have as His people. He longs for them to claim Him as their one and only God, and He answers them, naming them to be His people. He clearly loves them, clearly wants the best for them.
And yet if you look at what He chooses to do with His chosen possession, it seems rather counterintuitive. He first puts them into the fire… something that isn’t pleasant and not something we would ever do to our pals if we chose them and wanted to make them our people. And yet God has a specific purpose for this. He says He wants to refine them as one refines silver. He wants to make something beautiful out of them, something that would never come to be if He left them as they were or gave them everything they could ever want. It’s in the fire that God does His best work, it’s the fire that makes us look more like Jesus, getting rid of our imperfections one flame at a time. And it’s the fire that God uses to make us His people and teach our hearts the goodness of having Him as our God. Though the fire is something we ourselves would never choose, it’s a tool in the hands of our Maker used to mold us into people who look more and more like their Dad in heaven. And we have to remember this when we’re walking through the fire: that our God is on our side and committed to the flourishing and deep joy of our souls, even if it means temporary pain.
Friends, God doesn’t put us in the fires of hopes deferred or unemployment or deep loss or unwanted singleness because He’s a bad God or is unconcerned with how we feel. He hears our cries of loneliness and He knows how deeply fatherlessness cuts and He understands our agony as we ask again and again for things that He tells us are not ours to have right now. And yet, He gives every single yes or no, He moves us into each and every season, and puts us through each and every fire because of His goodness. Because He knows that there are more important things than earthly comfort because eternity is at risk here. The fire allows us to depend on Jesus, to learn to trust Him even when it makes literally no sense, and to become the men and women who learn to choose Him even when the world as we know it seems to be crumbling around us. The fire teaches us that God alone is enough for us, even when we are jobless, community-less, husband-less, fatherless, churchless, and isolated at home.
Dear ones, I want to encourage you to join me in believing in the goodness of God and trusting Him even in the fire, knowing that He makes all things new and works things together for our eternal joy, even if it’s at the expense of our temporary comfort. I’ll be praying for each of you walking through your own fires, that you would know our God who stands by your side and gives you strength (2 Timothy 4:11), that you would know the steadfast love of our Heavenly Father who doesn’t just cheer you on from the sidelines, but rather goes with you into the valley, the fire, and the flooding waters. We will be better because of this fire, and we will trust Jesus and praise Him in the midst of it, and it will be a glorious, refining, messy time… and it will be worth every single flame.
All my love,