I have good news, but I’m reluctant to share. I’m reluctant because I don’t want anyone to understand the takeaway to be that the Lord has finally been faithful. He’s been— in every moment, through all the sadness and disappointment and every detour—unceasingly faithful. This news, though good, is not the promised land.
I’m wary of underplaying the significance of the blessings that came with the waits and the nos. I desperately want to avoid painting God’s nos as less praiseworthy. They aren’t. My strengthened faith, my greater certainty of God’s being an ever-present help, my trusting in Christ as enough—these enduring gifts will ultimately do more for my good than anything else I could receive. They are transferable in both want and plenty and my security in Christ can be applied across all of life. Since the sufficiency of his grace is ineffable, how then can I tell it?
I want to share this news in a way that portrays this most recent development in proper proportion to all the others, that places no more importance on this yes than all the promises the Lord made good on in the interim. I want to somehow communicate that God gives us new songs even in our waiting. Or, at least, that he can, that he longs to, and that, for me, he did. I don’t want to diminish the goodness of all that led up to it. I even wince at calling it a lead up, because what if it’s actually the main event? Like when an opening act steals the show.
I’ve been wrestling with the tendency to elevate God’s material blessings over His spiritual ones. Though intangible, they are no less real. The kernels of faith are often fertilized with nos and though we may get nos to our prayers, we never get nos to God’s promises. Encountering the divine is sweetness itself, but perhaps, at times, hid in a bitter shell. A thousand nos that teach me to savor Jesus and know his presence is better than a yes that keeps my understanding of my need of him at bay or that allows him to be seen, unwittingly, as an accessory to life and not life itself.
At the same time, there’s no denying that a well orchestrated yes satisfies. One of my favorite things about heist movies, if they’re done well, is the strategy involved. I love the big reveal at the end where you discover that even though you thought you were tracking the whole time, there were moves being made undetected. Not to equate the Lord with a thief, but he thinks through every angle and prepares grace for every step. He has surprised me with a good, long-awaited yes for which I am thankful.
I’ve been thinking about this idea of rejoicing with people when they don’t realize they’ve done something rejoice-worthy and of the ways we learn what to value. Get engaged and all your Facebook friends will like it. You have a party, people take you out, buy you things. All the external validation signals to you you’ve done something good, you’ve reached a desired end. Learn to see God at work in your singleness, learn to be content in an ill-fitting job, lay siege to lies about your identity, trust God—what do we do for that? I’m going to start taking people out and getting them cards for these blessings because they’ve come into a treasure perhaps they do not know. We were not created for marriage or for any specific job or salary range, for fame, for any body type, but to worship, to glorify God, to enjoy him, but I so rarely celebrate people’s becoming more fully who they were created to be in these ways. It’s no wonder we don’t value faith in the midst of difficulty more when we often delay praise until we’ve gotten whatever thing it was in which we placed our hope. But when our hope is in Christ and we get him, the victor often celebrates alone.
I want to help friends scavenge for yeses hidden in nos (and be better at this myself). I want to celebrate grace wherever and however it is given. There are more yeses in our nos than we realize. Thomas Watson says of suffering in his book, All Things for Good: “Are we in great trouble? There is a promise that works for our good, ‘I will be with him in trouble’ (Psalm 91:15). God does not bring His people in to troubles, and leave them there. He will stand by them; He will hold their heads and hearts when they are fainting. And there is another promise, ‘He is their strength in the time of trouble’ (Psalm 37:39). ‘Oh,’ says the soul, ‘I shall faint in the day of trial.’ But God will be the strength of our hearts; He will join His forces with us. Either He will make His hand lighter or our faith stronger.” Can we celebrate strength? Can we celebrate an awareness of his presence? Can we celebrate experiencing supernatural rest?
A friend encouraged me to tell the story of my good news—from beginning to end—again and again and tell it I will. It is an incredible story. But first I must dwell on the middle, the in between, the not yet, the disappointment, my coming to truly relish the divine. To be a good steward of my trials means to be honest, about the treasures they claimed and about the treasures they gave. But even more than my stewardship of trials, there’s a larger story at stake. Did I tell the story of God’s fruit in me in its midst faithfully so that others see that as good too?