The Art of Pondering
I have been doing a lot of pondering lately.
Pity Ponder Parties. Lots of thinking. Lots of moping. Paralysis by analysis.
Ruminating on the injustice of it all. Literally, all of the injustice--personal, social, local, global. All.of.it.
I struggle with anger, but lately, it has just been uglier than usual. And I have had to grapple with why. This Advent season has been the best of times and the worst of times.
Such rich and renewing intimacy with God coupled with such discouragement. It seems so incompatible, but here I am living this tightrope lifestyle. Feverishly wobbling between hope and despair. Like a toddler, one moment snuggling in and the next minute flailing and kicking to get what I think I need.
This anger usually starts with shame I feel. My words don't reach as many people as I want. My book is not any closer to being published despite X, Y, Z. My body doesn't look the way it did. My children don't always behave the way I would like. I am not always the kind of wife I need to be. The good work I do on a daily basis goes unnoticed and unacknowledged. I see others out there being better and doing more and realizing my dreams in a magically filtered Snapchat fashion that makes all my struggling, feeble attempts look like a bad DMV pic.
Therein lies the rub as they say.
All of those ponderings start with "I" or "my". What I am not. What I want but do not have.
It will always be a pity party if the focus is us, friends. Pride takes up too much space. There is no room left for grace, redemption, or a God who has mastered working in mysterious, up-ending ways.
Mary. She pondered like a boss. She started pondering before Jesus was even born. Before she held the Christ-child, treasuring and pondering all that led her to that moment, she meditated on the greatness of God and her humble state in comparison. His glory. His mighty deeds. His mercy. His provision. He and Him. Not I and my.
Even though she was just a baby herself, she knew her God and what He was about. She knew the path before her would not be easy. It wasn't conventional. It did not follow human rule or logic. Hers was a life focused on the sovereignty of God and not the scary circumstance.
Because God can use scary circumstances to bring about the greatest good. And we can be angry and bitter and resentful dragging our feet and delaying the blessing, or we can trust and see the possibility.
This Christmas season I am working on pondering examples of God's extravagant goodness rather than myself and what I lack.
- I believe in a God who allowed Joseph to be enslaved and imprisoned before being elevated to power.
- I believe in a God who allowed Daniel to go into the lions' den. But he was not devoured.
- I believe in a God who allowed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be lead into the fiery furnace. But they were not burned.
- I believe in God who allowed wandering in the wilderness before He provided the Promise Land.
- I believe in a God who allowed Job to lose everything but His God and then restored it ten-fold.
- I believe in a God who allowed a shepherd boy to slay a giant and become the king.
- I believe in a God whose faithless people went into exile, but He still promised them that He had plans to prosper them...plans for hope and a bright future.
- I believe in a God who chooses humble servants like Mary to birth our Savior in a lowly manger.
I believe He never leaves us. Full stop. When the circumstances are dire, He doesn't have to change them or remove them when He can overcome them completely. He can take the shame and transform the anger at injustice if we look to Him instead of ourselves.
Invite Him into the messiness of life, and I believe that He will do what He does best: renew, restore, redeem, provide, refine, and protect.
Ponder Him. Treasure in your hearts all the ways He has been faithful even in the hard stuff.
Beautifully said, Gretchen. You captured the heart of the matter for many of us – thinking of myself particularly – with the “me” thing that it is so easy easy easy to fall into. Love the list of biblical examples of God’s faithfulness.