Whenever I consider this precious scene that took place between Jolene Miller and Elizabeth in episode 8 of season 1, I always marvel at the wisdom of young Jolene to so adequately express what so many of us think and deal with in hard seasons of life. Like Jolene we can know the lines of scripture or what is the right thing to say but it can be hard to believe the words that we so often repeat when we look around at the difficult circumstances of life that we face.
This past week I have been reading scripture about how God works in the dark. As my life has taken a completely different course than I could ever have imagined I often grapple with the question, “How does God work?” Throughout the last several years in a variety of different ways in many different situations- from my bed, from a hospital floor, from a hotel window, from an airplane window overlooking giant soft clouds, and most recently from looking out over the wide expanse of the moon on the lake at a precious place I fondly call “camp”.
For a while in this journey I struggled through the season as Jolene talks about. Knowing the lines and the words but struggling to believe them as I lay bedridden in pain unable to walk and move. In many ways this young girl eloquently expressed in words that I had been trying to formulate in that dark season. Maybe I was afraid to say them out loud or maybe if I am honest I was afraid to admit them to myself.
Years ago I struggled with a different diagnosis but unlike this journey, I received the diagnosis was told by many doctors that there was no hope, had a miraculous surgery and within a year I was back to my “real life”. I think I thought that this journey would be the same. But things never happen the same way twice and this journey unlike others is not finished. The story that I long to be living isn’t the one that the God who loves me the most is writing.
Instead, this journey is in the middle. This story doesn’t have an end right now that is appears all happy. This story is messy and painful. This journey has been long and has cost me (and those who love most) a lot. On certain days it is easy to sit and wonder as Jolene said, if I believe the lines anymore.
It is tempting in life to focus on the bad instead of the good. It is tempting to focus on the difficult things that are so numerous that if I let them they would be the sole focus of life. If I let them they would wrap around my soul like a dark moonless night and harden it.
And on days like Monday where things have not gone according to plan, where a potentially new and scary diagnosis waits in the wings, where another surgery is needed, when it was necessary to put some stricter boundary lines in place due to my health, when a new doctor didn’t understand my condition, when friends haven’t been as supportive as I would hope, when tears wouldn't stop falling, and when I had a difficult reaction to a new prescription – it is days like that that I remember this scene between Jolene and Elizabeth and understand how easy it is to live with the questions instead of the truth. Where it can seem to wallow in all of the dark and all of the things that can make our lives seem like night without the glittering stars. Where... a young girl has the courage to express the words and search for the truth through the grief.
But the truth is that is where hope lies. When the lines seem like just lines and yet we continue to say them, continue to preach them, continue to believe them and live them. Because it is in the night, in the messy and dark and scary places that hope lives.
There is a verse in Exodus that states; “The Lord caused the sea to go back… all that night”. I love this verse. I love how it shares and focuses that God is at work in the dark. When all seems lost and you cannot see because of the darkness, God is still at work. God will continue to work “ all that night” until light comes so do not fret about the darkness. And in the dark we gently learn once again that the lines are not just lines, but the breath and hope to our weary souls.
"The Lord caused the sea to go back...all that night."
Looking for past From Hope Valley Devotionals? You can click HERE to find a complete listing of all of the devotionals!
*Please note that the quotes used in these weekly devotionals are the sole intellectual property of Hallmark Channel, WCTH, & Crown Media, LLC. These on-line posts are in no way supported, endorsed or affiliated with WCTH, Hallmark Channel, or Crown Media. They are simply encouragement inspired by Janette Oke and this precious show.*