Genesis tells us that the human heart was created in the perfection of the garden of Eden.
Can you imagine what the world looked like when God first created it? When He said it was all good. Very good. And it was all perfect.
Perfection’s symphony filled the atmosphere. Everything ebbed and flowed in complete harmony. It sang with the richest tones. And danced with ridiculous precision. There was nothing that didn’t look right or feel right. It was beautiful and peaceful and fulfilling. There was perfect peace in relationships. Adam and Eve were so beautifully connected to each other, and they lived in the perfect presence of God. It was paradise with unique intimacy where God would interact in direct relationship with Adam and Eve. There was perfect provision and perfect fulfillment of their purpose. There was no sadness or confusion or injustice. There was no disease or divorce or depression or death. There were no misaligned motives, no manipulations, no malicious intentions.
It was everything you could ever dream up and then so much more than that.
So the human heart was created in the context of the perfection of the garden of Eden. But we don’t live there now.
This is why our instincts keep firing off the lie that perfection is possible.
We have pictures of perfection etched into the very DNA of our souls.
We chase it. We angle our cameras trying to catch it. We take twenty shots in hopes of finding it. And then even our good photos have to be color corrected, filtered, and cropped.
We do our very best to make others think this posted picture is the real deal. But we all know the truth. We all see the charade. We all know the emperor is naked. But there we are, clapping on the sidelines, following along, playing the game. Trying to believe that maybe, just maybe, if we get close to something that looks like perfection it will help us snag a little of its shine for ourselves.
But we know even the shiniest of things is headed in the direction of becoming dull. New will always eventually become old. Followers unfollow. People who lift us up will let us down. The most tightly knit aspects of life snag, unravel, and disintegrate before our very eyes.
And so we are epically disappointed. But we aren’t talking about it. We don’t even feel permission to do so or we just don’t know how to process our disappointments. Especially not in Bible study or Sunday church. Because everyone says, “Be grateful and positive, and let your faith boss your feelings around.”
And I do believe we need to be grateful and positive and let our faith boss our feelings around. But I also think there’s a dangerous aspect to staying quiet and pretending we don’t get exhausted by our disappointments.
In the quiet, unexpressed, unwrestled-through disappointments, Satan is handcrafting his most damning weapons against us and those we love. It’s his subtle seduction to get us alone with our thoughts so he can slip in whispers that will develop our disappointments into destructive choices.
If the enemy can isolate us, he can influence us.
And his favorite entry point of all is through our disappointments. The enemy comes in as a whisper, lingers like a gentle breeze, and builds like a storm you don’t even see coming. But eventually his insatiable appetite to destroy will unleash the tornado of destruction he planned all along. He doesn’t whisper to our disappointed places to coddle us. He wants to crush us.
And counselors everywhere are telling brokenhearted people sitting on tear-soaked couches that one of the reasons their relationships failed is because of conversations they needed to have but never did.
If we don’t open up a way to process our disappointments, we’ll be tempted to let Satan rewrite God’s love story as a negative narrative, leaving us more than slightly suspicious of our Creator. Why would He create our hearts in the perfection of the garden of Eden knowing that, because of our eventual sin, we wouldn’t live there?
I mean, once Adam and Eve sinned, couldn’t God strip the awareness and craving for perfection out of their hearts before He banished them from the garden? Yes, He certainly could have done that. But to strip out the cause of our disappointment would also rob us of the glorious hope of where we are headed.
Remember, this is a love story.
And we will never appreciate or even desire the hope of our True Love if lesser loves don’t disappoint. The piercing angst of disappointment in everything on this side of eternity creates a discontent with this world and pushes us to long for God Himself — and for the place where we will finally walk in the garden with Him again. Where we will finally have peace and security and eyes that no longer leak tears… and hearts that are no longer broken.
The Bible begins with the book of Genesis, set in the first garden of Eden. But never forget, it ends with Eden restored in the last chapters of Revelation, the last book.
Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new! — Revelation 21:3-5
Notice all the feeling words used to describe the world we currently inhabit: mourning, crying, and pain. Utter disappointment often taps the place of deep tears. Everything on this side of eternity is in a state of decay. This is simply the natural result of sin entering the equation. Bright days become dark nights. The laughter of living will be eclipsed by the tears of dying. The excitement of this moment is torn away by the disappointment of the next moment. This constant threat to our deep feelings ushers in depression, anxiety, callousness, and, quite honestly, a skepticism about the goodness of God.
We see that all those harsh realities aren’t the end, but rather a temporary middle space. Not the place where we are meant to wallow and dwell. Rather the place through which we will have to learn to wrestle well. I need this wrestling. I have honest feelings where I want to throw my hands up in utter frustration and yell about the unfairness of it all. To deny my feelings any voice is to rob me of being human. But to let my feelings be the only voice will rob my soul of healing perspectives with which God wants to comfort me and carry me forward. My feelings and my faith will almost certainly come into conflict with each other. My feelings see rotten situations as absolutely unnecessary hurt that stinks. My soul sees it as fertilizer for a better future. Both these perspectives are real. And they yank me in different directions with never-ending wrestling.
To wrestle well means acknowledging my feelings but moving forward, letting my faith lead the way.
God knows before we eternally dwell we will have to learn how to wrestle well. Do you see the encouragement God is giving us in the passage from Revelation 21 to help us do this when our feelings beg us to doubt our faith? He will stop the continuum of decay and death and utter disappointment. He will make everything new!
In this restored garden of Eden the curse will be lifted and perfection will greet us like a long-lost friend. There will be no gap between our expectations and experiences. They will be one and the same. We won’t be hurt. We won’t live hurt. We won’t be disappointed, and we won’t live disappointed. Not in people. Not in ourselves. Not in God. Our feelings and faith will nod in agreement. We will return to a purity of emotion where we can experience the best of our hearts working in tandem with the absolutes of truth.
We won’t need to wrestle well between our feelings and our faith in the new Eden, because there will be no competing narrative about God’s nature. There will be no corruption of God’s nurture. There will be no contrary notions about why God allows things to happen. And there will be no gnawing fear that things might not turn out okay.
We won’t need to wrestle well, because we will be well. Whole. Complete. Assured. Secure. Certain. Victorious. And brought full circle in our understanding of truth.
But, we don’t live in the perfection of Eden or the yet-to-come Eden restored. Therefore, today we must understand our need to wrestle well in this space between two gardens. And we must learn to live and love in the imperfect rhythms of our clunky humanity, trying to stay on beat within a symphony of divinity.
We will get the words to the song wrong sometimes. We will go off-key and offbeat. We will go sharp, and we will fall flat.
But if God’s symphony continues to play loud and strong as the ultimate soundtrack of our lives, we will sense how to get back on track. We will feel how to get back in rhythm. We will hear how to get back in tune.
It’s just like when I sing along in my car with a well-produced song. With that soundtrack blaring along with me, I sound amazing. But it’s not because I’m suddenly a master musician. It’s because the master musician is louder than me, guiding me, holding me in key and on beat. I wrestle well with the song, because I’m not left on my own to hold it all together.
But Heaven help us if I turn the radio down and pick up a microphone to sing it all by myself.
I won’t wrestle well. I will wrangle what was beautiful music into an unrecognizable tangle of unpleasant sounds. I will add to the chaotic noise of this world, but I’ll miss the glorious soundtrack meant to remind me of the epic love story I’m destined to live with the Great Lover of my soul.
Excerpted with permission from It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst, copyright Lysa TerKeurst.
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When the hardest moments of life have you doubting everything, how do you recover? When God’s timing seems questionable, His lack of intervention hurtful, and His promises doubtful, where do you turn?
Lysa invites us into her own journey of faith and, with grit, vulnerability, and honest humor, helps us to see our lives in the context of God’s bigger story. Whether we’re dealing with daily disappointments or life-altering loss, we can find unexpected strength as we learn what it means to wrestle well between our faith and our feelings.
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That dissatisfied feeling is right. The discontentment that nags at you is correct. The disappointment is justified because it’s not supposed to be this way and our souls know it! Come share your thoughts on turning to Jesus with our wrestling. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily