Faith

Stop pretending that everything is okay

by Christina Wong // July 25, 2017, 3:40 pm

Wilderness

Illustration: Christina Wong, Thir.st

How are you?

I’m good.

Have you ever reached a point where your life feels like a lie the whole time?

No matter how many hollow how are yous you’re asked, you’re always good, even when you’re not – because we all know that no one’s really looking for a true answer.

Maybe you don’t have the words to sum up the mess you’re currently in. Maybe you don’t even know where to begin.

And in the process of repeatedly lying to others about your okayness, you start convincing yourself that everything is okay too.

Then one day it all falls apart. The facade cracks under the weight of reality. All this while, you’ve been wandering: Wandering in pretence and denial.

LORD, HELP ME TO REMEMBER

The Israelites wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years because they just couldn’t fully believe and trust God. Not for long, anyway.

Faced with the rough situations they found themselves facing, they forgot how they’d originally cried out to God for deliverance from their Egyptian masters (Exodus 2:23-25).

It’s so easy to only focus on what we think God isn’t doing, forgetting what He has done, or not seeing what He is doing.

I remember one weekend when I was serving on the worship team, my senior pastor came up to me backstage and told me that his nephew had complimented my guitar-playing.

I was flattered, but encouraged by the comment. We proceeded to have what I thought was a really powerful and ministering session of worship later during service. My spirit was lifted.

Fast forward a few hours, to a post-service worship evaluation, when someone casually pointed out that my guitar-playing felt underwhelming and distracting.

Immediately my spirits plummeted. I was discouraged. I started blaming myself and my lack.

God’s telling us: I know you’re not perfect. That’s why I chose you: That in your weakness, my glory can be revealed.

That one comment had eradicated all that happened earlier in the day. I forgot about the great time of fellowship with the people I was serving with, the encouragement from my senior pastor and the joy of freely praising and worshipping God on stage.

My eyes were fixed on what went wrong. Everything else paled in comparison to that one negative comment.

But what I’d failed to see was that in God’s kingdom, everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Everything doesn’t have to be okay.

It’s God’s gentle rebuke to Moses just before he returned to Egypt to set his people free. I’m not eloquent, God. I’m slow of speech. I’m not okay. God’s reply:

Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (Exodus 4:11-12)

In other words: I know you’re not perfect. That’s why I chose you: That in your weakness, my glory can be revealed.

LORD, HELP ME TO BELIEVE

The man with the epileptic son in Mark 9:24 recognised his difficulty in believing but the need to do so. He exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

On the other hand, the Israelites, though physically out of Egypt, were still yearning for their old comfort zones (Exodus 14:12) because they couldn’t believe what God said He was going to do.

You can take a person out of Egypt, but not Egypt out of a person.

Sometimes the detour is the road we’re meant to take. Sometimes your seasons of wandering have a lesson or two in them.

The Israelites’ disbelief turned an 11-day journey into 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.

Imagine trying to get to point A to B on a GPS. While the initial directions may seem straightforward, sometimes we find ourselves rerouted because of external factors: Traffic, train breakdowns, bad weather … Seldom are we actually able to travel punctually in a direct, smooth path.

Recalculating.

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle. (Exodus 13:17-18)

Sometimes the detour is the road we’re meant to take. Sometimes your seasons of wandering have a lesson or two in them.

LORD, HELP ME TO CARRY ON

It’s time to drop the pretence. Come as you are into His presence.

Our burdens are not simple and usually can’t be relieved by simplistic platitudes. Cheer up! Hang in there, it’s gonna get better!

Nope.

But what can relieve a complex burden is a simple promise.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30)

Don’t make an 11-day journey into a 40-year trudge through the wilderness because of your pride, blindness, deafness, hopelessness, restlessness, or stiffneckedness.

If things are not okay, they’re not okay. That’s fine. That’s human.

Most of all, that’s room for you to really see Jesus at work in you. And that’s the starting point of hope.
 

About the author

Christina Wong

Christina is a designer who used to memorise Pantone swatches. Her last cup of bubble tea was in November 2018.