But How Do I Get Through the Next 86,400 Second?
Maybe the hangup so many of us have with “religion” is that too often the cliches that come from it sound trite and insincere. Maybe even unrealistic.
Like…when you lose a loved one and someone says, “they’re in a better place.” Even if it’s true…it doesn’t help the hurt very much.
Or when someone looks down their nose at you when you’re feeling depressed and says, “God helps those who help themselves.” Um. That one’s not even biblical.
So, do you think when well-meaning people, who know we’re really struggling with life’s pains and hurts, tell us we just need to “take it one day at a time,” they are speaking a truth or a platitude?
For me, that particular bit of advice has stood true. And it seems steeped in the truth of Scripture — like the one that tells us we shouldn’t borrow tomorrow’s worries for today has enough (Matthew 6:34).
One day at a time.
And THAT is what I hear from Lysa in this chapter, “How Do I Get Through the Next 86,400 Seconds?” As she shares more of her story with us, we discover her pain that was already hard enough emotionally became acute, physical pain. Awful pain. Five days, in the hospital, no relief kind of pain. And she found herself asking how she was going to get through the day…that 86,400 seconds.
She also found herself begging God for relief. And when none came, “rebellious doubt” (p. 38) crept in, stealing her hope, taking her faith. I imagine all of us would wonder where God is when we’re asking and asking for relief and we get no response.
So, another cliche comes to mind when she talks about how on the fifth day a new surgeon came to her room with the answer: “hindsight is 20/20.”
His solution saved her life. In fact, when all was said and done, this doctor basically said the pain she’d encountered had saved her life.
The truth — if the doctors had been able to get the pain under control, they would’ve sent her home. And she would’ve gone septic and died. The pain kept her in the hospital. It kept the doctors searching for an answer. Pain saved her life.
A word that keeps coming up in this book study for me is PERSPECTIVE.
Lysa acknowledges that her limited perspective as she lay in that hospital for five days was that God was ignoring her. Because she wasn’t hearing from Him or seeing any results from her pleas, she was tempted to think He had abandoned her.
It’s a very human perspective. I mean, we only see what we can see, right?
But in hindsight, hear what Lysa learned:
“[God] was’t ignoring me. No, I believe it took every bit of holy restraint within Him not to step in and remove my pain. He loved me too much to do the very thing I was begging Him to do. He knew things I didn’t know. He saw a bigger picture I couldn’t see. His mercy was too great. His love too deep” (page 41-42).
She didn’t have God’s perspective during the pain. She couldn’t see what He could see. She didn’t know what only He could know.
And neither do we.
But once she did see the bigger picture, that hindsight thing, she realized God had been there with her the whole time. He answered a prayer she didn’t even know she needed to pray. He loved her enough to let the pain remain because…get this…the pain had purpose!
If we take a step back a moment from this book and all that Lysa has gone through, we can see her purpose in writing all this down as she was going through it. She recognized God was wanting all her pain, emotional and physical, to have purpose.
When I put myself in Lysa’s shoes, I can’t imagine that I would feel much like writing when my marriage is falling apart and I nearly die in the hospital. So I can’t help but think she didn’t either. Yet she did it.
And that is sheer obedience.
There’s a word for you. Obedience. It happens to by my word for 2019. And, as always, it’s interesting to see all the ways God is using my focus on my “word of the year” to teach me deeper truths about Him and myself.
I love it that Lysa spent some quality time on the topic of obedience next.
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:7-9)
Lysa picks it up from there —
“Please don’t rush past this heart-stopping truth. Jesus learned obedience from what He suffered. He was fully God but also fully human. His divinity was complete but His humanity grew and matured and learned how to be obedient” (page 43).
Jesus learned obedience from what He suffered.
And, Lysa takes it a step further. The obedience He learned from suffering took Him to a whole new level of trust in God…beyond what He could see.
That purpose of suffering for Jesus was trust. AND, His suffering, obedience, and trust of God becomes our model — that’s HUGE purpose. Two thousand years of purpose for billions of people.
And, it’s Lysa’s purpose. Through her pain and suffering, she’s learning obedience. Her trust in God is growing. And she’s sharing all that with us…so that we can learn too.
That way, when we hit our deepest, hardest disappointments and seasons of pain, we can trust God beyond what we can see.
Lysa asks, “Can you imagine how much less anxiety, fear, anger, and heartbreak we would have if we could truly trust God?” (page 43). She plays out this idea, stressing that she’s not talking about the “I trust in God” type platitude (because that what Christians are supposed to say), but the kind of trust that in the moment of pain we can say we will trust God with this suffering, disappointment, or situation. And mean it.
Even if we don’t see a way, see God at work, see what good will come of it, or even know how we’ll get through it, we state with as much faith as we can that we will trust God. In fact, we state it even if we don’t yet fully believe it. We state it out of obedience till we believe it!
Lysa calls this a “marked moment,” that moment we make the decision to trust God despite what we see (or don’t see).
“This is obedience. This is trust. Obedience is the daily practice of trusting God. So, the only way to gain the kind of trust in God we must have to survive and thrive in this life between two gardens is through the things that we suffer” (page 44).
How ironic is it that our suffering is the very thing that can make us doubt God more than anything else, yet God allows our suffering to happen in order to increase our trust.
Lysa encourages us to believe that our pain and suffering aren’t meant to hurt us. They are meant to save us. “To save us from a life where we are self-reliant, self-satisfied, self-absorbed, and set up for the greatest pain of all…separation from God” (page 45).
To trust God means we trust His timing — even when it’s not our timing.
To trust God means we trust His ways — even when they aren’t our ways.
To trust God means we’re setting our doubts and desire to control aside, allowing Him to do things His way and in His time.
That’s obedience. It’s a choice. We can choose to trust that God sees the bigger picture, knows things we don’t know, and is doing things we can’t see with our eyes.
Our eyes. This is a big one. Where are our eyes looking? What are they focusing on?
The problem? The pain? The injustices? The doubt? Past hurts? Current life storms? Future possibilities that might elicit more problems and pain?
Lysa will say later in the book that where we stare we steer.
If all we focus on are the hard and painful things, then that’s where we’ll go. That’s where we’ll live.
Scripture gives us another place to put our eyes — on Jesus.
“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly callings, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.” (Hebrews 3:1)
When we move our thoughts, our eyes, away from the raging sea and giant waves of life that surround us and put our eyes on Jesus, we’re declaring our faith in Him. We’re putting our hope in Him.
“We don’t have to know the plan to trust there is a plan.
We don’t have to feel good to trust there is good coming.
We don’t have to see evidence of changes to trust that it won’t always be this hard.
We just have to close our physical eyes and turn our thoughts to Jesus. Fix our thoughts on Him. Say His name over and over and over. God doesn’t want to be explained away. He wants to be invited in” (page 48).
I love all this because it’s not cliche. It’s not some generic, empty platitude. “Look to Jesus” is literal. It’s practical. It’s do-able.
And it can be life-changing.
We — you and I — we can be the ones who are brave enough to trust this path, obedient enough to look beyond the immediate and look to God because we’re “learning that disappointments aren’t a reason to run away” but a reason to go a different direction.
“Turn from the deep desire to know all the answers. To see too much of the plan. To carry a weight you weren’t ever supposed to carry” (page 49).
In this season of my life there’s not a lot of pain, but it does have some disappointment. And I have a mind that wants to figure things out. Things like a son who fights very real anxiety. I very much want to fix it for him, so I find myself keeping my eyes on that instead of God. But when I do that, I get anxious. I get frustrated. I start to hurt deeply as I carry a burden I was not called to carry. I can whine, “It’s not supposed to be this way!”
I’m not saying I’m not supposed to walk beside him and help him find his way. But God is showing me there’s a difference in coming alongside my son and actually taking on the problem myself.
So, I have a choice. Each and every day (sometimes moment by moment) I have to choose obedience. I have to close my eyes, call on Jesus, and change my focus. I have to allow this suffering to grow my trust in God — trusting that my perspective is incomplete, trusting that God sees things I’ll never see and that He has a way through this that I can’t imagine.
I’m learning how to live by Lysa’s great alliterative morsel: “I must stop the madness of my own assessments and assumptions. My soul was made for assurance” (page 50).
My assessments — with my eyes I am always evaluating and judging.
My assumptions — based on those assessments, I draw my own conclusions.
God’s assurance — what He longs to give me when I’m brave enough to shift my eyes to Him and put my trust in Him, recognizing that His assessments are based on a much fuller picture and that He operates not out of assumption but TRUTH.
“Some things won’t be fixed on this side of eternity; they just have to be walked through. But when my brain begs me to doubt God — as it most certainly does — I find relief for my unbelief by laying down my human assessments and assumptions…. I let my soul be cradled by God’s divine assurance. His Son. Who completely understands. And who will walk through every step of this if I keep my focus on Him.
That’s how I survive the 86,400 seconds called today” (page 51).
Lysa has walked through some of the hardest things this world can throw at us, and she has bravely chosen to look to God, to trust God. She is choosing to shift her perspective and lean into her heavenly Father who wants to walk every step with her.
We can do the same. We can get through today — with God.
And, that is no empty platitude.
Fixing my eyes on Jesus — today, Shelley Johnson