It’s Monday morning, and I miss my old life.
As I tumble out of bed, I glance at my phone and frown at the time. It’s later than I wanted, but I’m up now. I look at myself in the mirror as I put my hair in a scrunchie on top of my head – the bags under my eyes are beginning to resemble suitcases. I sigh.
My first coherent thought is to brew a cup of coffee, and so I do – the first good cup of coffee I’ve had in three weeks. This morning routine provides me with a small shred of steady familiarity; every sip is reassurance.
From where I sit, I have the perspective of a gnat. I am selfish and spoiled by nature, and I know this. I miss my friends. I miss my life. I miss normal. I miss lunch dates and late-night ice cream runs and Bible studies with my community. I miss road trips. I miss coffee shops. I know people are dying and yet I am a helpless bystander grasping at anything to numb the feeling of powerlessness.
And yet all I can do is stay home. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic, and all I can do is wash my hands, send texts, and stay put.
I don’t know if everything’s gonna be okay soon. In the end it will, of course, whether in relief or in death, but no one of us this side of Heaven knows what it’s going to look like. It doesn’t terrify me – but it makes me sad, a little. It’s sad when normal is ripped away and life is stripped down to the bare bones, even when that normal was far beyond just comfortable.
But I want to argue that it’s not the displacement of the privileged normal that has all of us struggling so much – it’s the uncertainty, the lack of hope, the pain of waiting.
I said to someone the other day while talking about seemingly the only thing we ever talk about anymore, “I wish there were a date on which we could be promised that life would be back to normal again and that this nightmare of uncertainty would be over.” I paused. “I guess what I want is to know how much longer I have to trust God and when I can finally stop. When I say it out loud, it sounds really dumb – but it’s honest.”
I don’t like trusting God, because it’s uncomfortable.
But I’m realizing that if I want hope, it’s my only choice.
Trusting God is hard, because it forces every one of us to face these questions: when my life looks different than I thought it would, do I see God differently?
When I pray for answers that don’t come in the way I want them to, do I still trust that God is both completely good and totally in control?
When my life is marked with uncertainty, do I still praise God for who He is?
Because if what I have always believed about Him when life is easy is unconditionally true – that He is good, and loving, and all-powerful, and gracious, and compassionate, and sovereign – then it stands to reason that all those things are true even when I don’t feel them.
“Hallelujah in the dark.”
This has become my go-to prayer over the past six months. It’s not magical, or mystical, or anything like that, but it reminds me that when my circumstances have me feeling like I’m suffocating in the darkness, still, God is worthy of my trust.
Hallelujah in the dark.
When my life is falling apart, still, God be praised.
When I’m trapped in a world I did not choose for myself, still, God be praised.
When I am unable to find hope in this world, still, God be praised.
When I cannot see what’s in front of me, still, God be praised.
There are a lot of things I don’t know right now, but there is a gentle, quiet peace here. Peace in knowing that God is God and I am not. Peace in knowing that His love is unending. Peace in knowing that all of these things are beyond my control and I can fully and wholeheartedly trust the God who knows what He’s doing.
My heart is unsteady, but Jesus is near.
Jesus, my Jesus, who died to set me free. Who saw me in my mess of sin and imperfection and loved me anyway – who loved me enough to prove it to me.
Jesus, my Jesus, who is present with me in all my circumstances. Who sees my unsteady heart and stays with me in the pain. Who reminds me of hope – that this world is not even close to all there is in light of eternity – and joy. Joy that I have Him, and He is higher and greater and better than anything else this life has to offer.
As normal is redefined, and dreams change a little, and tears are shed over what is lost, there is One who has not changed, who will not change, and who does not change. He will be faithful, and He will be good. For God is God, and He is faithful, and He is good, and He is worthy of my trust, even when – no, especially when – I cannot see what’s ahead.
And so I say hallelujah, even in the dark.