Lacking Lift

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:17

Gazing out over the lake in front of the cottage, I notice a wasp crawling up the arm of my Muskoka chair, and moving perniciously close to my hand. I knock it away with my pen, but he doesn’t take flight. He just falls to the ground close to my feet. I flick him away expecting that he’ll lift off. He doesn’t. He just crawls across the flagstone patio in front of me.

I notice he doesn’t seem to have anywhere to go. He just continues crawling and periodically stops to clean himself (I think, but I’m no expert in insect grooming practices). Perhaps he is one of the displaced wasps from the nest my husband, son, and cottage neighbours recently – even gleefully – took turns knocking off the cottage with a football, the carefully crafted paper house – and all its precious contents – mercilessly ravaged to a pulp, its papery insides left ragged and exposed in the nearby grass.

I suppose that in mid-August in Northern Ontario, it’s already that time of year when the bees and wasps seem to grow a little groggy and you’re more prone to getting stung by them. Maybe, between the cold and homelessness, this wasp doesn’t have the strength to fly. Probably all he can do now is simply crawl.

I think some days our lives bear a striking resemblance to this crawling wasp, and his destructed home, maybe even some weeks, some months, or some years. Strangely cold and numb, we feel all we once knew has been knocked out of the sky, when the coldness of winter whispers word of its cruel onset, when we only have the strength to crawl when we used to fly – soar even.

But now we are relegated to the ground. No marvelous scenery, no lofty heights, no busy work with which to contribute, no friends and family buzzing around us, no perspective in the dirty, low-altitude dwelling places. We’re grounded, with no sign of flight.

Praise has turned to pallor, dreams to drudgery, and light to dark.

How can this be? How can we have experienced such heights, such faith-filled intimacy, been so on top of the world, only to fall to such depths? Has God abandoned us, we ask. Is He withholding His loving kindness? Worse, is this some kind of punishment? The silence can be that stifling.

Though backward thinking perhaps, I’m growing more and more convinced that these trials are the exact opposite of what it appears in the natural. That the darkness of the valley of the shadow of death does not exclude those living in Christ; the trials, and even the voiceless silence, an act of supreme kindness and love by a God who is willing to have us think He is anything but, to invite us to the very best.

For by them, we find faith that looks to things unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18), we are refined as silver and tested as gold (Zechariah 13:9), we learn perseverance, character, hope, and gain the ability to love more fully (Romans 5:4). And, amazingly, these heartaches become the rugged pathway to eternal glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Do not despair if you seem to be lacking lift. It is a temporary place in preparation to ascend the other places God intends. But first you must be trained in order to endure higher altitudes – the places where eagles soar.

Though you may not see tangible evidence today, may you rest in the truth of what you know of God.

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