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In the Middle

May 14, 2020

This post is by Cheryl Gilbert.

We’re in the middle. 

I was asked yesterday what I thought God was teaching me in this strange time. I admit, I hadn’t thought about it. Don’t get me wrong, I’d thought about His provision, His protection, and His providence, but I hadn’t asked Him what He was teaching me, specifically. I think it’s this: that in the battle between good and evil God absolutely wins, but that doesn’t negate the existence of evil. God tells us in Romans 8:28 that for those who love Him, all things work together for good. This does not mean that circumstance is good. It means that God and His work are good, and that those who love Him will experience that in spite of the present suffering (Rom. 8:18).  In every battle, before there is victory there is loss, and there are lessons. 

There is always a middle; the time between when the battle begins and when the victory is claimed. It is uncomfortable and uncertain. It is sometimes even guilt-ridden because we know that God is sovereign and yet life still feels hard. We feel bad about feeling bad, heartbroken over being heartbroken, and angry that we get angry. The thing is, both are true: God is sovereign, and life is hard. This is why the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groans that our words cannot express (Rom. 8:26)

Knowing that both God’s sovereignty and life’s suffering are real will help us forge a path; God’s goodness is the compass that will always show true North as we traverse life on earth. We can believe that God is always good, and still be saddened by all that’s bad. We can know that God is still on His throne, and also hurt for this broken world. We can trust that God’s plans are perfect and that He will never leave us or forsake us, and still feel overwhelmed, battered and bruised by circumstances in life. We can rely on God to give us just what we need to get through this day, and still wonder how we’re going to make it. 

The consistency of God can - and should - be the filter through which we process the inconsistencies of this “middle.” Resting on God’s promises in the midst of chaos means that we will be okay as we navigate the space between God’s goodness and life’s crises. We can be grateful that He’s giving us so much dedicated family time, and still be emotionally drained by it - without guilt. We can enjoy the time to rest, and still be burdened by what we think we “should” be doing - without shame. We can be excited about schooling from home, and also feel overwhelmed by it - without ridicule. We can behold the good that comes from breaking up the busyness, while also grieving all that we’ve lost. 

Neither grief nor joy are linear, thus we should not expect our path through crisis to be linear either. How we survive the middle - that unsettled state of experiencing both loss and gain - is by believing that the scales will always tip in God’s favor, and that He extends His favor to us. Psalm 84:11 tells us that God is our sun and our shield, and He bestows favor and honor on those who follow Him. He always provides a lifeline to us in times of crisis. The lifeline of His steadfastness. His consistency. His comfort, peace, and healing. We will get through the middle not only because God says we will, but also because He will make the way (Isaiah 43:16). 

So this is what God is teaching me today; that He’s in this with us - through the good and the bad. He is the beginning and the end. So this middle - this messy, unsettling, hard part? We can be honest about it. We can recognize it for what it is. And we can rest assured that once we wade across the muddy middle, we will celebrate the ultimate victory with the God who guided us through. 

Cheryl Gilbert is "sheltering in place" with her husband and two kids in Seattle. An extrovert by nature, she credits Marco Polo and sunshine for her keeping her sane while quarantined.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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