Among the two or three dozen questions I get asked regularly, the title of this post is certainly one of the more frequent. I have a love/hate relationship with the question. I hate it because I sometimes get treated like I’m some sort of super woman since I have six small children. While I don’t claim my life is rosy, I certainly don’t have it any harder than most people in this country, and it’s way more cush than most of the world. So questions like these can make me feel silly and pressured, like I’d better prove them right or be a huge disappointment. But I also love the question because it’s an open door for me to illustrate the gospel.
The simple answer to the question is: I don’t. It’s rare for me to have much energy, and when I do wake up feeling energized, it’s even more rare for it to last all day. Along with having so many little ones, I’m overweight and have Crohn’s disease, zapping the last ounces of energy I have. I live most days feeling pretty darn sluggish. And all of this in spite of the fact that I’m also an active person with fairly healthy habits. I. Love. Exercise. And God’s been freeing me from my relationship with food over the last few years. I don’t typically obsess much with what I eat while still tracking my intake. I work hard to get good sleep each night, and I evaluate often to make sure I’m not doing too much.
But I’m still tired. Because I want to be able to serve my family and friends better, I’m always shaking things up, researching to find the next thing that’s going to give me a shred of energy–diets, different exercises, fresh air, vitamins. But those things rarely help, and I find myself down because of it, thinking I must be doing something wrong because I have friends all over the place who are finding more energy.
Then something struck me. I worship energy. Why? Because I want to feel good. Energy is my means to the end of feeling good. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. I would imagine most North American Christians struggle with the same god to some degree or another. Overall, we’re a wealthy, healthy country. And I praise God for that! It’s certainly a blessing, one that’s been given to us because it’s part of God’s perfect plan. And we shouldn’t feel guilt for being born into it. But along with this life comes less physical suffering (for the most part!) than others around the world encounter. So now we’re in a war on pain and suffering–but it’s a battle that can’t be won through medicine and science.
We live in a community that screams, “Comfort!” And I need you to hear me if you’re going to understand the point of this post. There is nothing wrong with having comfort. Nothing. Any comfort we have is granted by God, and we’re never called to SEEK the uncomfortable. BUT sometimes I think we fight too hard to get out of the uncomfortable when it comes. Sometimes I think we deceive ourselves to believe some type of Utopian heaven will happen in this life. But scripture teaches the opposite. All of creation is in “bondage to decay.” This world is fallen, broken. Everything in it, our bodies included, are deteriorating. We can do everything right– eat a Paleo diet, get 150 minutes of exercise a week, have regular examines, take the right supplements, get 7-8 hours of sleep a night–and there will still be days, weeks, years we may not feel good. Then there’s aging in general. Eventually our bodies will stop the fight no matter how we’ve lived our previous years, and the suffering will certainly come then.
But if we fight so hard for comfort, how do we handle it when things just stay uncomfortable? When life is too hard? There’s nothing to do but lose the battle. We let life be hard. There’s a false saying that God will never give us more than we can handle. That verse (1 Cor 10:13) is about temptation, not suffering. Instead, we’re told that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
I developed Crohn’s disease 12 years ago. Before that time, I was very healthy. Now there are no pain free days, and few days without fairly severe pain. Between that and birthing six babes, I don’t notice most of the pain in my body anymore. Pain is such a part of my daily life that I have a harder time noticing cricks in my neck, joint pains, stomach aches, or cramps during my cycle. Twelve years ago I was aware of every single itch. Sometimes pain is necessary to help work through pain. And sometimes the pain is what pushes us to look to Jesus: “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
So I’ve been reflecting on this, beginning to understand how much I need to stop trying so hard to make this life easier and instead rest in God’s mercy to fight the good fight anyway. When I seek comfort, I miss Jesus. When I seek Jesus, I find the only rest that matters. Jesus promises, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I’m learning to keep pressing on no matter how much pain, no matter how tired, no matter how much is on my plate. Fighting because the battle’s already been won in the empty tomb. Fighting to the end knowing this isn’t my forever body, knowing one day I’ll see him face to face and all pain, fatigue, stress, and heartache will be gone. “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
That day is really coming, and the fight here is so, so temporary.