The Intertestamentary Desert of the Soul
August. The desert month of summer. There are seven months with thirty-one days, so why does this one seem like the longest? Long hot days. No special holidays or celebrations (at least, not in the USA). August feels to me like the intertestament time in the Bible. A long time between the last great thing and the next great thing.
I feel like I’m in a mini-intertestament period in my life, actually. Because of my faith, I know God is not far off — He’s a very present help in time of need — but if I were to rely on my feelings alone, I’d be in trouble, because lately it feels like God is distant.
It’s not unusual to feel this way, and it’s not unholy to talk about it or even to ask why. Jesus on the cross asked, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” And King David wrote about this feeling often in the Psalms. We have a green-light to ask God, in all seriousness, “Lord, why do You seem so far away?” and humbly wait for His answer. Psalm 13 is one such prayer, which is good to know when the words won’t even come.
How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.
But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
I think one of the most beautiful features of this psalm is in the last two verses, where it places praise before outcomes. The very heart and definition of faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
Seasons change in their time, and God is not far. We can ask our questions, and expect His answer.
Sometimes the answer is a deluge.
Originally, that was the end of this entry, but the landscape changed between the time I started writing this and now that it’s time to schedule the post. I had an inkling that it would, when a recent post by Nicole Seitz (here) and another by Rachel Hauck (here) plucked my heartstrings the way they did. Like that feeling that tells you to remember your umbrella, a gentle sense of warning stirred in my soul at the words, “Be ready.”
The forecast was true.
A death in my husband’s family. A dire hospitalization in mine. A friend suffering a loss that makes my soul ache–though surely not a tenth of what she must be feeling.
Along with people I love, I am heartbroken. And being heartbroken means there are promises for us. For me.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds.
My God–the God who felt distant, though He wasn’t, when I wrote the paragraphs above–is very present. He’s given peace; He’s dealt bountifully with me. He’s fitted together disparate pieces into a picture that I know He means for me to see, one that might almost have a note on the back. Saw this & thought of you.
It’s kind of like this.
Two weeks ago, I helped with a yard sale and got a terrible sunburn in the process. I didn’t wear sunscreen because I didn’t think I’d be in the sun that much. We would set up and then hang out in the garage in front of the fans. But I didn’t account for the 45 minute drive both ways. I burned. It hurt. A lot.
When I went back for day two of the yard sale, I took measures to keep it from getting worse–my hubby’s heavy-duty sunblock, a little cardigan to cover my arms if I had to go out of the shade, and because that was unbearable, a cute-kitten umbrella that provided much-needed shade and allowed me to unleash my inner girlie-girl.
It was so hot. Ninety-plus degrees, as it has been for too many days in a row. I love the south, but this… this was hot.
Afternoon came, and with it, one of those sudden thunderstorms that are as much a part of a Georgia summer as the heat. All of us helping with the yard sale raced around to move things inside and cover the rest with tarps. We got it all done just in the nick–honestly, the sky opened up right then.
It poured. And everyone stood in the garage, looking forlorn.
But I’d been uncomfortable all day, and I couldn’t help myself. I took my umbrella and danced around in the sweet, cooling rain. I shouted for them out of a crazy spilling-over of joy. “It feels glorious out here!”
The storm came, but you know… for those twenty minutes or so, the rain that ruined our yard sale was nonetheless a relief.