“No I don’t wanna battle from beginning to end; I don’t wanna cycle or recycle revenge; I don’t wanna follow death and all of his friends.” – Death and All His Friends (by Coldplay)
A lot of my friends right now are dealing with hard difficulties of life. As we grow older, it seems life hits faster and harder – loss of jobs, loss of children and broken relationships make us start to question God. Is he there? Why did he allow this to happen? Will he rescue me? After our questions come the flood of emotions that seem impossible to control – anger, doubt, frustration and grief consume every part of the soul and mind. Our questions to him then turn into accusations against him — “it’s your fault I’m so angry” and “if only you’d do this, then my life would be better.”
These questions have been my questions. Sadly, these accusations have been mine, too. I’ve lived through a lot in my 35 years. Certainly others have survived worse, but for me the loss has been great. Loss of family, loss of loved ones, loss of relationships. My questions have often turned into accusations, and God has been gracious enough to give me space and time to sit with them. But as I sit and question and accuse God, I always feel the Holy Spirit prompt me with one question: Do you believe?
Do I believe in God? Do I believe in his word? Do I believe in his sovereignty? If the answer is yes, then I simply have to trust. In the midst of the anger, questions, frustration and doubt in my heart, I can know in my head that I believe. And the more I think “I believe, I believe, I believe,” then slowly my heart starts to push out the other feelings and begins to fill with more belief. Romans 12:2 says to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Sometimes I have to think it enough for my heart to be transformed. Like the father of the in Luke 9, I often exclaim, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” And it doesn’t just happen with my unbelief. I have also exclaimed:
“I do love you, but help me overcome my unloving feelings!”
“I do trust you, but help me overcome my distrust!”
“I do give you control, but help me let go of the little bit I keep holding onto!”
“I do worship you, but help me overcome my lack of desire to worship you!”
“I do give you all of me, but help me let go of the parts of me I want to keep!”
I live for him whole-heartedly. I serve him whole-heartedly. But when I’m in the midst of a trial or adversity, sometimes all I have left to give is a small, wounded fraction of my heart. Miraculously, that’s enough for him. He takes it lovingly and gently, holds it and cares for it to make it stronger. And somehow, someday, someway, that fraction he’s holding becomes whole again.
We make a daily decision of choosing life or choosing death. Will we think life with our thoughts? Will we speak life with our words? Will we live life with our actions?
Like the above words in the song, I don’t want to battle from beginning to end. I don’t want to cycle or recycle revenge. I don’t want to follow death and all of his friends. I don’t want to live being angry at God. I don’t want to live shaking my fist at him. That’s following death. I want to live. I want to follow life.
Jesus told us we would have trouble. He never promised us a cotton-candy-bubble-gum-and-pink existence. He knew there would be hardships, tragedies, difficulties and pain. But he also said to take heart, for he had overcome the world. And that he came so we would have life abundant. And he said his yoke was easy. And he said his burden was light. And he said he’d provide a way out of every temptation. Even if that temptation is to curse God and die, he will provide a way out. And that way out just might be the Holy Spirit tapping you on the shoulder and whispering, do you believe?
Living means choosing to let it go.
Believing means choosing to believe it anyway.
Choosing means living.
That’s what we cycle and recycle.
That’s what we follow.
“Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” – Jesus (Matt 8:22)