It’s still dark when I get out of bed and quietly make my way downstairs. I grab my bible and journal, intending to spend time with the Lord. I make coffee. I load up the dishwasher. I fill out some medical forms I’ll need for an upcoming doctor’s appointment. I return a few emails. There is a storm brewing off the coast and headed my way. I check the latest forecast. I finish reading a chapter in a book I’m slowly making my way through. I jot down some thoughts for an article I’m working on. By now, the sun is up, though my house is still quiet. And while I’ve been productive in the hour since I woke, I’ve yet to open my bible or utter a word in prayer. Truthfully, I’m stalling. More truthfully, I’ve been stalling for days.
The approaching hurricane is not the only storm brewing. The storm within me has effects that are getting harder to ignore, and my heart is not prepared to weather it. Soon, the calendar will declare two dates with the potential to cause damage. One date will remind me that my daughter should be turning eight years old. The other date will signify that it’s been six months since she unexpectedly passed away as we were making final preparations to adopt her.
One date will remind me of what should have been. The other date reminds me of what is. Both dates are painful to acknowledge. I long to celebrate her birth while I am simultaneously forced to grieve her death.
As long as I stay busy, I don’t have to think about the approaching dates on the calendar and the flood of emotions they will bring. But in the stillness of the morning, once I’ve run out of things to distract me, I’m forced to confront my heart and to acknowledge the dissatisfaction that lingers. I’m confronted with my own humanity and God’s sovereignty. Sometimes, the temptation to get lost playing the “what-if” game overcomes me. I want to give in to the bitter thoughts that are begging to be set free from where I hold them captive. I want to keep that storm at bay for as long as possible. But ignoring an incoming storm will not spare me from its destruction.
My enemy knows I’m weak in this quiet moment in the early morning. He knows there is a part of me that wants to agree with him when he whispers that I know what’s best and God does not. He is happy to feed the beast within me that thinks I should be in control. The demand to have my way calls to something barely hidden beneath the surface that sits ready to be unleashed.
A battle is coming. I can feel it. I don’t want to fight. I don’t feel up to it. It’s easier to avoid. To distract. To keep moving. To exhaust myself to the point that I’m too tired to ponder. I can be weak, right? I am weak. But weakness is not the same as fightless. I can fight in weakness. I can fight from weakness. I can do this because God’s grace is sufficient for my battles and his power is perfected in my weakness. In God’s economy, when I’m weak, then I’m strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
So, this morning, I choose to engage in the spiritual warfare I’ve been trying to avoid. I choose to fight. I pray, read, and worship. I defeat my enemy by believing and trusting my God. Today, bravery is believing. I bravely reject my plans and believe that his are better. I deny my enemy’s lies and embrace Christ, who is truth. I choose to trust when I don’t understand (Proverbs 3:5). I choose life – to love the Lord, obey his voice, and hold fast to him (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). I fight by blessing the name of the Lord. I fight by believing that it is well with my soul. I fight by boasting in my neediness. I choose to be needy well.
There is no neutral — I must make a choice, and I choose God. I don’t have the right words. I don’t like this pain. I still have questions. I long for something I can’t have. I would never have chosen this, but I will, by God’s grace, choose him, even when it hurts. Holding on to God can wound us, even as he blesses us (Genesis 32:25-26).
Sticking my head in the sand is not a battle strategy. Avoiding is not progressing, just prolonging. My enemy wants to destroy me. He knows where I’m vulnerable and he doesn’t hesitate to attack. I must engage without hesitation. This morning, my father’s mercies are new, and his faithfulness is great (Lamentations 3:23). And victory has always been mine through Christ.
I am weak, but I will fight. I fight in the strength of the Lord (Ephesians 6:10). I echo the prophet Joel’s words, “Let the weak say, I am a warrior.’”