Dwell in the Land

At the risk of sounding like I’m having a pity party, I need to lay some honest landscape for this post. You may be sitting in far deeper pain as you read this; I know that fully. But I think it’s helpful to frame what I’m saying.

The last half year have been some of the most difficult months our family’s life. My already poor health took a steep decline. In March, I was diagnosed with Lymes and have entered intensive treatment. The money we thought was going to pay for our adoption is now headed to all the out-of-pocket treatment expenses. I have held two dead babies, including my own nephew, and witnessed the pain of three other ones dying. We have experienced hurts too deep and personal to share here. And most of all our hearts have been through emotional turmoil as the adoption of the little girl we fell in love with like a daughter has turned into one big, bleak mess. This last one has been the hardest. I have laid awake many a night wondering what her future will look like and if she is safe and what milestones I will never see. All the while trying to come to grips with the fact that I may never hold her again, never kiss her soft cheeks again. Except, there is no avenue in society for this kind of pain. I can’t memorialize her or our love for her; she is just a hole in my heart that may always be there.

Okay. Tear wipe. Deep Breath. I promise this won’t be a totally depressing post.

When not overcome with sadness, here’s where I, daughter of Christ, have been- I’ve been angry. Like really, really angry. At one point as I group-texted more bad news to my family, I, who usually love to converse with people about things, included wording along the lines of, “I already know truth; but it doesn’t change anything so don’t bother texting me back.” I’ve had more than one “What are you doing!?” raging prayers at God. In most past trials, I felt like I could see a sliver of good things happening. But in this, I saw nothing.

After another questioning night, I headed to church where we had been going through the book of Job. Our pastor spent the first part of sermon simply reading Job 38-42 out of the Message translation (which you should look up and read). For the first time during this pain, I was really and truly broken in my weakness before my Sovereign God.

I have wanted so dearly to get out of this mess. I’ve wanted to step out of and stop feeling this pain. I prefer it cleaned up and gone. I long to go back to last August when the world was going my way, and I was high on life.

But after kicking and screaming inside, I’m seeing this from a new angle. As I was reading Psalm 37, verse 3 jumped out at me:

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.”

It was that second bit that grabbed me. I felt the Holy Spirit was nudging me. “You’re supposed to DWELL here.” Not run. Not have a spiritual temper tantrum. But dwell. And trust that He has something for me in the land He has placed me. I serve the God who had His people live in a desert on the way to their Promised Land.

I’m mulling over what it means to dwell. To literally set up camp right in the middle of this place that feels like a swamp. To not be constantly looking for the closest exit, but to nourish myself here and seek to flourish here until I’m called to a new place in my life. Not in a fatalistic way, but in a hope-filled way.

Eugene Peterson says, “So, instead of continuing to focus on prevent suffering- which we simply won’t be very successful at anyway- perhaps we should begin entering the suffering, and participating insofar as we are able. Entering the mystery and looking around for God.”

There is something for me here in this very spot. I know my that if I am a “tree planted by water” my life source has not dried up.

So while I dwell here, I’m starting to ask God to show me what He wants me to do while I am where I am. What does he have for me while I am laid up in bed or up at night with my mind across an ocean? I don’t have all the answers, but I’m finally starting to ask the questions.

And it isn’t all shrouded in frustrating mystery because my Lord took the time to tell me how it ends. Really, that’s all need to know.