“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”- Henry David Thoreau
During my pre-downsizing, elementary teaching days at Ebenezer and Northwest Lutheran Schools in Milwaukee, no respectable Mr. Henning classroom was complete without the requisite class pet- typically a golden hamster. One year my choice of living environment was a plastic mansion, complete with tubes and assorted attachments, including a penthouse sleeping area. Not content with living in the lap of hamster luxury, our hamster chewed his way to “freedom.” Reasoning that, sooner or later, hunger would override adventure, I strategically placed cups of food around the school. When the class hamster took the bait several days later, he was embraced (aka ‘captured’) by his benefactor and returned to the classroom fold.
Jeff Manion describes the Land Between as a metaphor for the undesired transitions we experience in life, a middle ground where we can be transformed and established in our connection to God. Discouragement comes with the territory, as Pastor Manion explains:
“Traveling through the Land Between, we often have to battle discouragement. Sometimes deep discouragement. The wilderness is a place where even the most hopeful must fend off feelings of impatience, futility, or despair.”
The issue isn’t that we have those feelings, but what we do once we have acknowledged them. While we may not have control over our circumstances, we do have control over our reactions. We will choose something: our way- depression, seething rage, revenge, retail therapy- or God’s way.
During this transitional time, we need to recognize that our souls are very vulnerable and that there is a fine line between honesty and complaint. While complaint is turning away from God, candidly pouring out our heart to God is turning toward God. Jeff Manion expresses the honest cry of the overwhelmed: “I can’t take this anymore. It’s too heavy for me.”
That’s precisely where we need to be. As we trust God, we develop perseverance and our faith will grow. Max Lucado offers these words of encouragement:
“Don’t see your struggle as an interruption to life, but as preparation for life.”