How to Navigate through a Hard World, or a Hurting Day

It’s hard to know how to navigate through a world pocked full of hurts and fears. There is so much light and goodness here, but it isn’t long, as we stumble through the day, before we rub up against the edges of sharp pain or press through a curtain of what feels like such thick darkness.

We read the news. We get a startling phone call from a friend. Someone close to us deeply disappoints or is diagnosed. We despair.

Meanwhile God dares to be alive and close by in a world that clambers with terrible situations. But, sometimes it’s hard to see Him. It’s hard to find Him. We grope around in the dark. We reach out for His hand. We call out His Name. And then we have to practice our faith. Child-like belief that a good God really is here. Emmanuel. With us.

SomeOne really is reaching out first to us. Really is drawing us in. That, in spite of everything, we really are held.

I hold my newborn and sing her songs. I stare into her small twinkly eyes, looking intently up into mine. I wonder where she’ll go in the world and what sort of adventures she’ll have, and though I have a heart full of hope for her beautiful life, I also have fear. What sort of tragedies will she walk through? Will she be okay? So, I smile into her blue sparkle eyes and sing. I put my hand on her soft sweet head and whisper prayers. I bless her with so much peace. She is God’s kid. Surely, He will never leave her or forsake her, just like He promises that He’ll never leave or forsake me.

I’m a feeler. My heart has tentacles, like a sea anemone and as I gently reach out and feel along in life, I end up feeling everything, intensely. Breath-taking joy. Heartrending pain. It’s difficult enough just to navigate through an ordinary day. But, I am learning to trust Jesus here. To call out His Name.

My sweet older daughter, Hope, wakes up from a bad dream and cries because it feels just like it’s true. And though I can pull her close and reassure her that she really is safe, I know full well that in some places in this world, and perhaps not too far from here, there are little children living out nightmares.

I’ve been reading C.S. Lewis to the kids. I’m so glad he let his imagination go wild and that he wrote his thoughts down. In his book, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” I find a place of comfort, some strength from the story. There’s this one scene where the characters are on a ship, entering into a dark tunnel, with no light at all at the end. They find out that they’re actually bound for a terrible island where all their most frightening dreams come true.

It reads,

Lucy leant her head on the edge of the fighting-top and whispered, “Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now.”

If you’re familiar with The Chronicles of Narnia, you know that Aslan is the great lion, who C.S. Lewis created to be a picture of Jesus Christ…

The story continues…

The darkness did not grow any less, but she began to feel a little—a very, very little—better . . . There was a tiny speck of light ahead, and while they watched a broad beam of light fell from it upon the ship. It did not alter the surrounding darkness, but the whole ship was lit up as if by searchlight . . . Lucy looked along the beam and presently saw something in it. At first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an aero-plane, then it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right overhead and was an albatross.

Lewis scholars tell us that the albatross is actually a picture of Christ…

It circled three times round the mast and then perched for an instant on the crest of the gilded dragon at the prow. It called out in a strong sweet voice what seemed to be words though no one understood them. After that it spread its wings, rose, and began to fly slowly ahead, bearing a little to starboard . . . [They] steered after it not doubting that it offered good guidance. But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, “Courage, dear heart,” and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan’s…

“In a few moments the darkness turned into a grayness ahead, and then, almost before they dared to begin hoping, they had shot out into the sunlight and were in the warm, blue world again…”

Jesus is the Light that has come into the world. (John 12:46) And no matter what happens here, the darkness cannot overtake the light. I choose to gut-believe it.

“Courage, dear heart.” I want to write it on all my walls and find a way to somehow splay it across the billboard of my life. I need Jesus to repeatedly whisper it into all my troubled, anxious places. And I do take courage that He is a God, just within reach. He is a a refuge and strength. And a “very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) I take a deep breath knowing that I only need to call on His Name and He is here.

If we don’t like the way the day is going and we want to alter the contour of our hours, we can choose to interact with the One who changes things. Jesus changes people. He changes hearts. He changes perspectives. He helps us to grow! He can change what is possible for us. He can change the landscape of our lives–of this one ordinary day.

There is a God who offers to be with us if we want, moment by moment, in every aspect of our lives.

So, this is how I’m stumbling and tripping along and finding my way again and again.  By calling out in simple faith to Jesus, who is just a “holler” away.

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