If for some reason you are ever rendered incapable of doing much of anything, you will likely know the insecurity and restlessness that goes with it.
Insecurity, because as people we have so much of our perceived worth wrapped up in what we do. Our capabilities, responsibilities, and hobbies are what make us who we are. When we are no longer able to take on those things, we are left with little left to talk about, and find it painfully difficult to relate with those who are busy doing things.
You have a sense that you are existing more than living, and that is an incredibly difficult feeling. I wrote last year of this experience:
And some had easy laughter
And a carefree kind of sway,
They flittered and they fluttered,
Humming through the day.
“What have I to offer?”
The bruised reed said
From the ground,
“The glory’s gone over my head
But I am sinking down.
Up above the light is shining,
Sweet perfume fills the air,
But down here is decaying,
And an awful load of care.”
There is a potentially crippling sense that because you are not accomplishing things you are not valuable, nor are you even interesting.
I say restless, because we are used to doing things and being busy, and when life becomes slow and monotonous, all the hours rolling into one, it is easy to be anxious. But a sadder thing happens when you are stuck in that place for a long period of time. You accept your current reality and even if you are able to hope for improvement, when that hope is a long way off (even weeks or months), it is a dreadful wait. You begin to look forward to nothing more than going to sleep at night, and perhaps, if things are particularly bad, even night does not bring relief.
Job 7:2-54,6 “Like a slave who longs for the shadow, and like a hired hand who looks for his wages, so I am allotted month of emptiness and nights of misery are apportioned to me. When I lie down I say, ‘When shall I arise?’ But the night is long and I am full of tossing till the dawn… My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle and come to their end without hope.”
Ok. Now that I have totally depressed you, I’ll tell you the reason. Some people have hard seasons like this while they are young. Some people only ever have a life like this. But chances are you and I are eventually going to age and be faced with extremely difficult times. I just visited an elderly friend in the hospital and it was all doctors with bad news, needle pricks and tubes, restrictions, and rushing off for tests- and that all within half an hour. That is not easy no matter how old you are.
Ecclesiastes 12:1 says “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’.”
What do you do when your pleasures are cut off? What do you do as God’s child when everything in front of you looks black?
I believe it is wise to think about these things “before the evil days come.” I thank God so much for the lessons He has taught me during hard times, to prepare me even for later times. There are so many things I have learned that I wouldn’t have otherwise. But here is one important lesson:
You are never doing nothing.
1Corinthians 10:31 says “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
And you think- How can I glorify God laying day after day in a reclining chair? Or a hospital bed?
We have our worth wrapped up in what we do, and oftentimes we don’t even know it. When God strips away your abilities and your pleasures for a season, suddenly you are left alone with yourself. When your heart is all you have to show at the end of the day, the condition of it becomes much more significant to you, and this is a bittersweet mercy from God.
For what does the bible say? “Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious (1 Peter 3:4).”
What you do with your heart, and how you respond, even in your thought life during a time of trial can be very precious to God. It can be hidden and quiet, and nobody knows about it, but God is there in every minute of your pain, and your heart can be a sweet offering of praise to Him.
James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.”
1 Peter 2:18-19 “For this is a gracious thing, when mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.”
This is in the context of an abused slave, but it tells us about a heart that pleases God. A slave has no control of what is happening to him, and he has done nothing to deserve it. In fact, he has done good and suffered for it. When you suffer, are you mindful of God? Do you know He has his eye on you? This does not imply a lack of tears, prayers, or even anguish. But do you turn your heart to God with those sorrows? Are you mindful that you not turn against God and use your suffering as an occasion to sin?
No one is giving you a medal at the end of the day for enduring hardship with a heart that is determined to dwell on and be pleasing to God. Your heart is laid bare and open before Him. To people, it might look like you are doing nothing, but God sees the marathon you are running while you are laying in that chair. You might not have moved an inch today, but you crossed one hundred hurdles. Maybe you fell seven times, but by the grace of God you got back up.
It is the hardest thing you have ever done, and perhaps, nobody knows it. But God knows. He knows; Your faith is precious to Him, and His word says you will certainly receive a crown at the end of this suffering. None of it is going to be in vain.
You are never doing nothing because your heart and mind are always active- making choices and responding to the circumstances you find yourself in. Last year I wrote a poem called “When You See Me Doing Nothing.” I wrote it at the beginning of nearly 9 months of inactivity, and I reminded myself of this truth every day. You need to know this to combat the insecurity and restlessness I talked about. It ended like this:
It is not nothing
It is deeper
Than that busy faith once was,
By God ‘tis well regarded
It is service
It is love.
Psalm 131:2 “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
1 Samuel 16:7 “…For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”