I waited for the service to start sitting at the end of my row, while people bustled around me, greeting each other, reserving their spot with their Bibles while they went to get donuts and coffee.
I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I knew I couldn’t even muster a Sunday morning smile and “fine,” today.
I closed my eyes and tried to clear my head of all the boiling emotions. Church was starting soon.
Why am I angry?
The thought caught me off guard. I wasn’t angry… just frustrated. Bitter maybe. Ok, definitely a little angry. Fine. Pretty furious, if I was honest.
I felt abandoned, because God had taken some people out of my life that I really wasn’t ok with letting go.
I was overwhelmed and feeling way over my head at work.
And I felt lost. So many things God was doing just didn’t make sense.
I funneled all my anger into one question. I wanted to scream:
God, where are you?
But I just sat there, in my pew. And fought.
Why is this happening to me? Why have you allowed these things to happen to people I love? I just don’t understand what you’re doing. WHERE ARE YOU?
I couldn’t remember the last time I felt like I’d really heard from God. Or the last time I knew I’d seen God at work. Or the last time I felt like He was actually working in me, and using me.
Church would start soon. I had to cram my thoughts into the back of mind to deal with later. To distract myself, I pulled out my phone and started scrolling through emails. I opened my daily Lent devotional from SheReadsTruth, and read:
And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”
– Jonah 4:4
I stared at the screen, and let it sink in.
Do you do well to be angry?
It hurt to say it, but I knew the answer.
Of course no. Like Jonah, I’d witnessed God’s mercy. I deserved nothing, and received so much.
Besides, what good did my anger do? What did it accomplish? It didn’t keep me from feeling alone, overwhelmed, and lost. It put a barrier between me and the only One who could help.
I don’t remember the sermon. But I left feeling more hopeful than I had in a long time. I knew the timing of the email wasn’t an accident.
On Monday, before I started on the daunting tasks for the day, I read:
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
– Joshua 1:7-9
Then the next day, a friend shared stories from their life with me that reminded me of two things:
- I’m not alone.
- And as trite as it sounds, God really does have a bigger picture at work.
When I took my seat the next Sunday, while none of the situations in my life had changed, everything else had. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t afraid. And I knew where God was.
Of course, He’d never left.
Relent Part 1: Failing. ReLent = Starting Lent over, and the idea of giving up, which seems to be what these 40 days have been all about.