Even if…

Loss.  It’s so personal.

It’s unique to the one experiencing it.

It can literally consume a person.

I’ve seen it happen.

It can set a person free.

I’ve seen that happen, as well.

My husband and I, we’ve been in a season of exceptional loss.

Loss has been a significant part of the raging storm I’ve talked about.

Loss has a way of changing life on its heels, shifting priorities, changing perspectives.  There can be varying degrees of loss.  There are different types and categories of loss.

Our family has experienced different degrees, types and categories of loss. It’s been downright hard.  My {step} father lost his battle with cancer in October, but he had been lost long before then, struggling to engage with anyone, depression had robbed us of him long, long ago. In March, my father-in-law lost his life to apparent cancer, but his mind had been stolen from us to the perils of dementia years ago. So much loss. So much more even. Walking through the refining fire, as my husband says.  Sometimes it seems unbearable. No matter how I prepare for the storm.  No matter how I study the storm. No matter how much I know that my God controls that storm and is, in fact, bigger than that storm, when the storm hits… that storm. There is an impact. How could there not be?

A song was recently released on the radio, a song by MercyMe called “Even If”.

The lyrics of the song begin with a man, a worship leader, singing about how in life sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and he confesses to being in a season of loss.  He shares how easy it is to sing God’s praises when things are going well (our way), how it’s especially easy to share that message with others, but when the storm hits, and we’re held to the flame, it’s not so easy when things feel so not right… but this singer wants to be able to sing anyhow.

I think the hardest part of the storm, the flame as this man describes it, is we don’t control the outcome. As people of faith, we are called to rest our faith in our sovereign God and lean into Him when the storm rages, when the refining flames swell, when life throws you loss upon loss.  We are asked to trust God, with the hurt, with the hard, with the loss, with the outcomes we didn’t ask for… with those times when the mustard seed faith doesn’t budge the mountain we wanted to move because maybe it’s not the mountain God wanted moved or perhaps even the one He is moving, at that very moment.

This song.
“Even If”.
It speaks to my soul.

even if used

Through it all, I’ve become quite the observer of people during times of loss.  I find myself intrigued by the different ways people process loss. All the stages, all the different ways they manifest.  How other things tend to surface during loss, other issues that may have been dormant or even dealt with… somehow reemerge to become somewhat of a current issue.  Past hurts long ago buried swell up and beg to be addressed, right now, as hard as that may be. How loss can have a sort of compounding effect when combined with other substantial losses. Dealing with loss we thought we were OK with only to discover we weren’t as OK with it as we thought. A loss of something we think we should still have can be downright excruciating, agonizing even.

I am guilty of so often stepping into the role and position of lord of my own life. In my prayer life, I have caught myself issuing God a demands list of “Jennifer thinks things would be just fine if You (Lord of all, Creator of the universe, Knower of all things there are to know) would just _______________.”
Then everything would be… just… fine. Right?
HA! As if I know all things and how this affects that and what needs to happen to result in the good that is promised to those who love Him and are called to His service. I am one who has built a life for myself rooted in perceived control.  I’m not proud of that.  It’s just a matter of fact.  Perfecting my completely detailed to-do list and executing each step precisely as described according to my infallible plan, and everything should turn out exactly as I expected. Shouldn’t it?

Each moment of chaos, each crisis, each life-change, each loss is really just a reminder that we aren’t in control. Control is an illusion, a deceptive tool to push us toward self-reliance, so our lives will spiral out of control and we will be driven further away from the One who really is in control. We aren’t promised the next moment. There aren’t guarantees. And we, as much as we may have it all planned out, do not have authority over the outcomes.

As the storms rage around me, stirring up wind, destroying structures, shaking the very foundation I stand on and demolishing the tight grasp I thought I had on my own life, the lives of loved ones, family, friends and the circumstances which surround those lives, it is all put into perspective just how small I am.  It’s not up to me.  Who do I think I am?

I don’t control the outcomes. I get a choice of the steps I will take, of the responses I will offer, of the reactions to the circumstances that seem to creep into that so-called infallible plan. All the worry over my perfect plan, though, is in vain, because ultimately I don’t decide what happens in the end.

So often, I find myself wrapping my joy, my peace, my hope, my feeling loved, my definition of success in a neatly tied package of if-only.  If we’ll allow it, though, if-only turns into but God. If I truly trust Him to be sovereign, as I profess He is, I should trust God with the outcome as well. Whatever that may be.

In the song, the singer ultimately gets to a place where he submits to God and despite the season of loss and his implied hope of a particular outcome, he wants to be able to be OK with the actual outcome even if it looks nothing like he expected.

So, my goal, since this song reaches deeply into my soul and tugs at the very essence of me, urging me to hear what my heart should already know, is to truly allow my if-onlys to become even-ifs.  He promises peace and rest to those who ask and come to Him. The route to peace and rest is the path of even if.  Even if life doesn’t turn out the way I asked or wanted or planned, each step has a purpose.  Though I grieve loss upon loss, my hope rests in His outcome for my life and for the lives of my loved ones. Even if it looks nothing like I thought it should or would, I can rest in His promises of the plans He has for my life for good and not harm. If He doesn’t pull me from the fire, I trust that the fire has a purpose.

I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

MercyMe – “Even If”

It is well with my soul.

And I am OK with that,
Jenn

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2 thoughts on “Even if…

  1. “Control is an illusion, a deceptive tool…” Words heavy with truth, Jenn. We utilize control by studying the storm in a vain attempt to prepare for and minimize damage. All the while our Father, full of grace and mercy, waits patiently while we learn to lean further and further into Him. Loved your beautiful words and the lessons He’s teaching you. Thanks for sharing them with the world.

    Like

    • Lessons hard learned are worth sharing with dear friends. Learning and leaning seems a way of life I can live with under an umbrella of peace and rest. It brings me joy to sit here. I love you, friend! Thank you for your kind words and encouragement.

      Liked by 1 person

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