Please forgive me, I have been silent. This happens when I process too much at one time. The best visual I can give is from the Pixar film called, The Incredibles. There is a scene where Mr. Incredible tries to save his family, and he gets hit with giant tar-like bubbles. At first, he keeps going, but as they hit him, they grow until finally they take him to the ground, and he is consumed. This was me. I mentally collapsed.
In my immediate community, there are significant hardships. Several people fighting for their lives, some are fighting financially, some are fighting for their mental health, some fighting for their marriages, on top of the fact that we are in a pandemic where nothing is certain. I felt like my prayers were not being heard. The burdens, like the tar-like bubbles, got heavier and heavier. In my discouragement, I began to doubt God. “Does He care? …seems He is going to do what He wants to do. Why pray?”
My 86 year old friend is facing sufficient hardship. Over the years of our friendship, he has told me stories of his life. I sit in awe of all he has been through and overcome. He is faced yet again with the utmost hardship of losing a loved one. In his lifetime, he lost his Dad when he was only 16 and two wives. Now he is faced with losing his daughter.
In vain, I have sought how he has done it. “How has he lived through so much? How is he facing this?” As I reflect, I, too, have overcome hardships in life. I have had to live with grief. Somehow I’ve always managed to look ahead, until now. Usually, my faith carries me to freedom, and in my freedom, I tell myself, “It will be okay. God’s got this.” This year has humbled me to my core and I forgot how to overcome.
Not everything is going to be okay this time. Not all the current struggles I am praying for will have the outcome I hope for. “What can I do? I feel like my prayers aren’t helping.” Like Jonah, I am challenging God in His plans. “Lord, if You are going to do what You want to do, what is my purpose then?”
For a few weeks, I slacked off of my responsibilities. I prayed short limited prayers. I stopped my intermitting fasting lifestyle; I cleaned the bare minimum of my house. I became lax in every area of my life. I had a bad attitude that said what’s the use. This was unproductive. I kept myself busy with odd projects outside the house, like painting the shutters and tearing out bushes. I avoided my feelings and denied I had a poor attitude. I ended up depressed, weepy, And nothing could cheer me up.
This morning in my melancholic state, I continued to question life in all its tragicness, and like a puzzle, it all began to come together. I thought of my older friend and his life.
I have been focusing on results, what’s in it for me, how to get what I want for my friends, what I want in life, and the outcomes I desire. Once again, I am challenged to see things differently.
Life isn’t about the things I seek. It is about the effort I put in. Every example in the Bible points to this. From the beginning, we are called upon to put forth an effort. We needed effort not to eat from the tree of good and evil, effort to take the promised land, effort to have faith, effort to love, effort to share, effort to live, effort to get up each day and do it again. It all takes effort.
Faith also takes effort. “What efforts am I making? Where am I putting my effort?” I had started seeking my own results. I had stopped putting my effort into faith. I instead put it into doubt and into questioning our God above.
If I put my effort into faith, I will have faith. If I put my effort into believing in God’s plans that I don’t understand, it will lift my mind off my own desires. Without effort, I will fail. I will focus on the wrong things. I will be found wanting. It comes down to one word, folks…effort.
God can part the sea, deliver us into the promised land, and save nations, but we have to put in the effort. Moses had to hold up his arms, Joshua and the twelve tribes had to fight for the promised land, Ruth had to lay at Moabs feet, Jonah had to go and call the people to repentance. If these folks wouldn’t have put forth the effort, things would be different.
Will you join me in putting forth effort in life? What effort do you need to make today?
Feel free to leave a comment below and proclaim where effort has helped you or where effort is needed in your life.