Have you felt it? The longing for things to be good again? Have you looked around your home and wished for a new couch or a new rug, thinking, “I just need a change?” Have you stood looking into your open wardrobe and thought, “I just need a fresh look?” Have you looked in the mirror and wondered if a change of hairstyle would freshen things up? After a long time of testing—and I can assume that we’ve all had a long time of testing—it is natural to long for a return to normalcy. We just want things to be good again. And we’re not too sure how to get there.
The trauma over the last few years has been significant. But as hard as the initial trauma is, it’s the aftermath that destroys people. It’s the scramble to recover the life that was lost. After a time of severe testing—which for us began with Kiara’s accident, and was compounded by the events of the years that followed—the deep longing for things to be good again rises forcefully to the surface.
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
—Psalms 13:1-2 NIV
When things are uncertain our souls try desperately to fix things, to make them good again. We scramble for significance or dally in distraction or both. The primal drive for life is so strong, and it drives us to have our thirst satisfied. Our souls want life before they want God… if he doesn’t seem to be helping with our thirst, that is where our spiritual battle starts. How we shepherd this longing is crucial.
Six months ago, one of the things that I realized was that I was leaning into escape to rescue me. In the evening, more often than not, it was a glass of wine that I hoped would make life good again, and an hour of Netflix after the kids were in bed that was going to make the day worth enduring.
Trouble is, you don’t win the fight by leaving through the back door of escape. Leaving through the back door doesn’t mean the fight is over, it just means you’re out with the garbage; your surrender to circumstances making you a prisoner of them.
In actual fact, bad news though it might seem, the Bible tells us we need to be in it for the long haul:
This is no weekend war that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.—Ephesians 6:12 MSG
Resilience is what is needed, which is a hard word for the thirsty soul, but there’s good news in the verse right before:
God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way.
—Ephesians 6:10-11 MSG
Because, friends, our God lays a table for us in the presence of our enemies, and we get to feast in the midst of the fight. But the way you eat and drink and be merry when you’re going to get up and rejoin the battle is very different to the way you eat and drink and be merry when the battle is all over.
So, don’t let your longing for things to be good again let you wave the white flag of surrender. We’re not sitting down to drink away our sorrows, we’re resting up to rejoin the fight.
Our longing for life is the very battleground of our spiritual life—our shepherding of it determines our fate in this life, and the one to come. Ignore the empty mirages of false refreshment and lead your soul to the fountain of life. Teach your heart where goodness lives; take your seat at the banquet table. This is no weekend war, it’s true. But the Commander of Angel Armies has everything you need to rest, recover, and rejoin the fight. He is the author of the good life.
(With thanks and credit to John Eldridge and his audiobook, Resilient, for teaching me how to shepherd my longing for life to be good again.)