In case I wondered if my anxiety had been cured, it flared up again recently. This is a super inconvenient time to be rendered unable to function because I am moving and have a million and seven things to do. And yet the thought of stepping into the Navajo utilities office sends me off spinning and either falling into a crying heap or doing much less important things like drill-sergeant-ing my children into sorting and putting away their five million Legos, by color, for seven solid hours.
During this time, God gave a strange comfort. He reminded me of His promise in Jeremiah 29:11:
I call this a strange comfort because I knew He was not saying “you’ll prosper in the future, I promise,” but instead “I’m prospering you, not harming you.” Kinda hard to take in because it totally feels closer to harm, and my idea of prospering is closer to roses and unicorns. Certainly it is hard to think of prospering as hurting so much!
But hurt and harm are really different. Harm has the connotation of bad intention toward you. You’ll be worse off than you were before. When you go to the dentist and get a cavity filled, the procedure hurts you. But dentist doesn’t harm you. There is something in you that the doctor is trying to correct. And so while it hurts, she does no harm. So any sort of trying to get out of it would not be in your best interest. However, if some stranger rushed at your mouth with a drill, it would indeed harm you! Hurt and Harm! Horrible situation! Certainly one that is worth your efforts to avoid and get out of!
So God’s not harming me. I can accept that. I mean, He is a good God. It makes sense that this struggle isn’t going to harm me. There’s something that He is doing. This pain is purposive. OK, got it…
It is a whole different concept to think that this struggle is instead prospering me. I mean, it is beginning to make sense that God can redeem this hurt, make something good out of it, and take the “good/bad” balance to a zero. To redeem something out of this struggle to make up for (maybe with change) what this pain is taking out of me. Yet that’s not what God was telling me. He’s prospering me right now through this. This struggle to function enough to take care of my family is part of what He has promised. It’s not something I have to suffer through to get to the prospering, the suffering is part of the prospering.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this message, this Word that God gave me, didn’t always bring immediate comfort. Okay… honestly, it NEVER gave me immediate comfort. Many times as I crunched into a ball with my hands covering my face, anxiety raging, I would inwardly scream at God “YOU CALL THIS PROSPERING!”
And my Jesus gently says, “Yes.” For He has given me a path during this pain. “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). He invites me closer to Himself. To become more intimately tied with Him. To know Him, His actions, and His character more. Because I can learn from Him. And while I might not look at his yoke, this burdensome struggle I’m experiencing right now, as “easy” or “light”, He offers to teach me His perspective on them. And when I can learn his way, these burdens certainly are easier and lighter.
These burdens can still stink to go through! Knowing they are “light” doesn’t actually get my utilities switched on (oh my gosh, I just got nauseated thinking about the utilities office). It isn’t necessarily easier to experience.
But, I am more aware that I am not alone. Jesus is with me. Which makes it easier to hope. To continue in my obedience to what He has asked me to do. To put on my exercise clothes knowing that my sweat investment today will result in better functioning sometime in the future. To cling to Jesus, not with the desperation of drowning in the storm around me, but knowing without His presence, partnership, and teaching, I would not be able to walk on these troubled waves.
So instead of praying, “Please make it stop,” I’ve been led to pray, “teach me how to walk through this storm.” Instead of begging for protection from the impact of neurotransmitters raging around like an 18 wheeler with the brakes cut, I can ask Him to use it for the glory of His Kingdom. Because this is what prospering looks like- as He better enables me to bring Him honor and glory. His plans to prosper me, and not to harm me, may indeed hurt, yet as I walk with Him, I will find rest for my soul even during these trials.