Dear Despairing Heart,
You are in a lonely place. You have traveled so far, but all your eyes can see is the unending road before you. You are parched and wounded. You are burdened and cast down. You have cried out again and again in curses and pleas. But it’s not because you wish to retreat to your old forbidden and frivolous roads to nowhere. No. You, my weary one, are simply desperate to make it home. I know you have not forgotten that at one time you had no home, a cursed pilgrim, made to carry on hopelessly toward a dead end. Your aimless wanderings brought with it both reckless freedom and arresting panic, but you never knew to hope for anything more, to dream of golden palaces while defending crumbling fortresses. I know you remember the day, when your spirit inhaled its first redeeming breath, you were told joyfully by the Saints that you were embarking on a new road where there was home waiting for you – a place with no pain, no tears, no weight. There was a Land where nightmares fled and demons died, and your soul would rest in the loving presence of the One who made you. A hope you had never known blazed within your heart; you took to the road with an orphan’s joy in knowing you had a home to which you could go.
But we are here, still on the road and not home yet. Where you now lie, you understand in the deepest, most inexorable way why the fabled wife of Job would have made such a criticized prescription – to curse God and die. It does not seem so cruel now, so flippant, so selfish as you lay helplessly on the road you were told to walk. You are undone. I know where your mind wanders; I know the shame and hypocrisy you feel as you condemn yourself for wanting another way home, for the paralyzing terror overshadowing you as the rogueness of your heart longs uncontrollably for it. Some will call it selfish, some will call it weakness, but my dear one, there is nothing evil for the prodigal to ache and dream of the end of her agonizing homesickness when she is broken. You know now that is where you belong; but you are not where you belong yet. You long to confess your heart so as to lighten the load, but your companions only burden you further:
They say, ‘do not lose heart’
They say, ‘be strong and courageous’
They say, ‘All things will work for the good’
And it makes you want to scream, if you even had the breath to use. You know. Oh, how you do know, as you cling to your salvation for dear life, Word and Spirit and Truth. For you would not have clung on this long if you did not believe that there was a home for those who surrendered and followed their Creator in Christ’s perfect submission.
You have drug your heart through torrent and battle so as not to lose it.
You have pressed through nightmares and attack and fury with all the strength afforded to you.
You have carried burden upon burden with you, hoping beyond hope that something would eventually bloom out of its ashes.
But as you lay wasted beneath your efforts, all you can dream of is home. And in your dreams, the darkened shadow of failure haunts you. Oh dear heart, I know. You see more clearly in this world than you realize, but seeing clearly has never hurt more deeply. You thirst for hope like water, and though your cup is cracked and dry, I come to remind you that the springs of hope are still real. You have me, not to take you home, but to lift your head and help you find the water you so desperately need to carry on.
Dear child, the strength that is required to wade through such unfathomable pain is not a cheap thing. Alone we cannot afford it in ourselves, for we are but dust and beggars. The cost is too steep for a created soul to bear, and you know this truth so well, but do not forget that we have believed in a God who has gone all in on us. There is nothing, no matter how lavish, that the richest King of the Universe would not give you so that you might walk through this broken world as a broken child. He has moved heaven and earth to save your soul. Do not rob Him of the divine honor of pouring out the same love to preserve your life as you fight on the painful journey home.
He loves you. He will always love you and He has made your life precious as surely as He has made your soul priceless. With every cry you utter, His love only burns stronger as he quickens to bring you unto himself. And while you see nothing but tragedy and disgrace, your King has paid too steep a price for us to deny that He knows your worth, though we do not always feel it. He defines your worth. Your life, even here, especially here, is worthy of His love and compassion. I know it doesn’t feel like that right now. It is too dark to see love; it is too dark to see anything you need. Oh, the labor of faithfulness under darkness’s reign! Even your God and Savior shivered and shrunk back as faithfulness demanded He walk into hell for you. So as you claw your way blindly forward, with every labored breath you heave, remember. Remember that that same love, that same power, that same faithfulness that purchased your soul from hell is right there with you as you fight for your life. So hold on, my weary traveler, even if the seasons never change, though I pray they will. It is a long, long way home.
But do not forget that it is your King who is leading you there, who suffers with you when you fall, who covers you when you cannot go on. He will follow your lead if you choose the shortened way, but the gift of the cross offered to you was not a swift exit, but the endurance to experience the victory and redemption of his loving power in the face of unimaginable tragedy and destruction. I do not know why the journey home must be so long or treacherous, and to choose to walk it requires no small feat of trust and faith, but He beckons us to endure, for we are His possession and He is with us.To go home now would surely unite us with His already promised conclusion, but God longs to be mighty in our lives, to spit in the face of hell that Evil will not destroy us, though he will surely try, as you know full well.
So what then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He did not spare Christ to obtain us, so how will He not graciously provide us all that we need to walk onward? No, it is not what we want. But it is what we need to believe He is everything he says He is. It is the way He redeems us, cleanses us, transforms us in a broken, sinful world. He wants to fight our battles and conquer our demons, as assuredly as He wants to be home with us. It is not easy. It is just as agonizing now, as it was euphoric then, to choose this way. But if we believe that God is our King at home, why should we not trust He is guarding us, walking with us, leading us exactly the way He intends? And that, my dear heart, that is the true strength of a conqueror – to believe when we cannot see that He is desperately, passionately fighting for us, no matter where we are or what state we are in. And He will win the victory for us. He always does. Trust Him to lead us where He has promised – the whole long way home.
Your Conquering Soul