Be Brave, Love

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
— John 16:33
A word of comfort

The other day I was on my face in grief over something that in light of everything else, seemed very inconsequential. 

Maybe you can relate?

And while pouring out my heart over something so small, so seemingly unimportant, I couldn't help the running train of thoughts in the background...really? It's not like you're fighting ISIS or trying to keep your kid alive, or walking for miles in the hot desert for some clean water. 

(Shame knows where it hurts.)

Sometimes I think it's easier to be strong in the big things, because there is a secret grace that comes with them. The miracle of grace. This is how we get through those long dark nights, and people we love dying, and betrayal from those we are closest to. The worst possible diagnosis. We are broken and we are resilient. Others in our community tend to be more supportive and rally around, and this is such a gift. Needed. 

But the little things? The everyday things? The unkind word. The whispers behind your back. The quiet, unspoken ache. The fear you don't dare speak aloud. Overwhelm. Not sure where gas money will come from. Not-quite-overt rejection, but the kind you can feel with every cell in your body. Pain. Loneliness. The world is ending, and people are starving, so why am I sobbing over this!?

(Shame knows how to hurt.)

While the big things matter, greatly, I want to whisper to you: the “little” things do, too. And so this is for the tender soul facing small things—

Grace knows where it hurts. Grace knows the flinch you're embarrassed to admit. The secret fear that what if you're all wrong. The hot tears you smile through and wipe away fast. Just being tired. Or that ache in your low back that throbs, and you can't quit yet. The silence. The way you yelled at your kid just now. Wanting a break. Wanting a soft lap to curl up into. Wanting someone to understand. How you're tired of having to explain. Again. Again. How you long to be touched. How you don't want to be touched. How inadequate you feel because you've lived such a normal, aka boring, life. How unspiritual you feel. How you struggle with food. How you messed up. How you can barely get off the couch. How you pour out your heart and go unnoticed. 

Grace knows.

That day, while I lay prostrate on the floor a sobbing mess, the Spirit sent a softness through my body and whispered, light affliction.

Light affliction. 

I knew where I'd seen that phrase before...


For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.

 
Incense, like prayer
 

Be brave, love.

You might not be wondering where your next meal will come from. You might not be holding up a sign asking for help at an intersection downtown. You might not be in rehab for your latest binge. (The Father sees all of these dear souls, too.)

But your ache is known in the heavens.

You are seen and you are loved.

You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?
Ps. 56:8
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Cor. 4:16-18
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

And yet, if you are walking through the valley of the shadow right now and face unbearable life-or-heart-threatening things, there is a hidden message of comfort here just for you.

If your light affliction is working for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, how much MORE so is your heavy?


If our light affliction is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, how much MORE so is our heavy?


Be brave, love.

Paul wrote, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed... I've read those words in the night seasons and thought, but I AM in despair! I AM crushed! I AM forsaken! In those moments I believe we are held so tenderly. One day we will look back and see the whole story—from the eternal side. We will see and understand what Paul meant when he said, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12) There is so much more than meets the eye. 

Jesus said, 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed...”
 Luke 4:18

This is not tenderness with an agenda. This is not to woo someone into the kingdom and then abandon them to fend for themselves when the hard times come, because you know, you gotta have faith. 

It is working for you an exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Rejoice!

But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
1 Cor. 2:9-10

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
—Psalm 147:3

As the curtains close on this present age, I know so many of you in the faith are going through some bone-crunching hard times. 

Be brave, love.

You are being rejected by those who once loved you. Your husband or wife does not believe. Your friends or family don't want to hear anymore. Someone young and dear just died, and it doesn't make sense. Someone made a scathing video about you on YouTube accusing you of being deceived. You literally don't have the money to buy toilet paper. Your wife wants a divorce. Your teenage son is in juvie. Your sweet baby is sick and doctors don't know why. When people ask you important questions about the faith, you freeze up and say stupid things. People make fun of your disability. No matter what, you can't shake this crippling depression. People care about you, and are desperately trying to drag you away from weird conspiracy theories on the Internet. You write something tender and your stalkers just argue, trying to prove that you're wrong. You're on your face again, screaming out in grief.

No matter what you're going through in your everyday life, whether it's a light affliction or a heavy one, remember this:

  • It is not meaningless.

  • You are not alone. 

  • There is more going on than meets the naked eye.

  • Your struggle is working for you, not against you.

  • God the Father is a good father.

  • You are not forgotten.

  • You are not forsaken.

  • The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.

  • Grace knows how to heal.


For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18


Be brave, love.

Emmanuel loves you. Emmanuel is within you. You can overcome anything and all that is aching in your heart. And for those who overcome, there are seven holy promises...

  • To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. Rev. 2:7

  • Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. ...He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death. Rev. 2:10-11

  • To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it. Rev. 2: 17

  • And he who overcomes and keeps my works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—he shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels—as I have also received from my Father; and I will give him the morning star. Rev. 2:26-28

  • He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. Rev. 3:5

  • He who overcomes I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. Rev. 3:12

  • To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. Rev. 3:21

 
 

Let me close with a few scriptures of hope and encouragement. Be brave, love. God is with you.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (1 Peter 5:8-10)
And they overcame [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. (Rev. 12:11)
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:14-19)
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:1-4
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:5