"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
How are you today?
If I asked you that question, what are the chances that your response would be something along the lines of “I’m good/well/fine/OK, thanks”? About a week or so ago a really close friend of mine messaged me asking me the exact same question and instinctively I responded with the stock answer, “I’m good, thanks. How are you?” Thankfully, this friend knows me better than that and had picked up on the fact that I hadn’t been too chatty in our group message the evening before, so she persevered, responding to my message with a rephrase of her original question “How are you doing emotionally, relationally, vocationally, financially, physically, spiritually?” Realising there was no quick one-line answer to that question I asked for some time to think and pray about it before getting back to her.
I spent the next few hours prayerfully doing a bit of self-reflection and life check-up. How was I really? I prayed through these different areas of my life and asked myself the question “truly how am I in this area?” It didn’t take long to come to the realisation that I wasn’t ‘good’, I wasn’t even ‘OK’. It had been a tough couple of days, and I was struggling in a few of those areas, but hadn’t allowed myself the time or space to actually process or even admit it to myself. I proceeded to film and send my friend a 20-minute video processing through each area and we then chatted, processed, and prayed things through together. It felt so good afterwards to have worked through it, been accountable, and to have admitted that I wasn’t as OK as I’d first thought. It also allowed me to see more clearly the areas I was struggling in and what I could put in place to help.
How often do we rush through life on autopilot, not allowing ourselves the time to assess how we are actually doing? How often do we pretend that everything is ‘fine’? Or try to put on a brave, happy face because we think that’s the right thing to do?
The thing is, we were never promised an easy life. In fact, Jesus tells His disciples that they will have trouble, it is inevitable. We see example upon example throughout the Bible of people struggling and crying out to God. The Psalms are filled with laments, Jesus Himself even sweat blood and asked for His cup (struggle) to be taken from Him. But we also know from God’s word that He is right there alongside us in these struggles, in our weeping and rejoicing, our highs and our lows. God promises to never to leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We don’t have to go through any of it alone. We can tell God how we are, how we really are. He created us (Psalm 139:13), He knows our innermost thoughts (Jeremiah 17:10), He can handle it.
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up." Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
We can also reach out to other people. It starts with taking that first brave step of admitting to yourself, to God, and to others that maybe not everything is OK and asking for help. You may be surprised how often allowing yourself to be vulnerable and asking for help results in the door being opened for others to feel comfortable doing the same. As the scripture in Ecclesiastes explains, two people together can support one another - when one falls down (physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc) the other can be there to pick them up. At this time, when a lot of us are feeling the distance between us, it’s more important than ever for us to reach out, support each other, uphold one another. An encouraging word, a phone call or message, a card in the post, small acts of care and kindness can make all the difference.
So maybe it’s time to change our response, maybe even the question. Maybe it’s time for us to recognise when and be comfortable to say out loud, “I’m not OK, and that is OK”
“The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”