By guest blogger Vaneetha Rendall Risner
“It wasn’t even nine in the morning and I was exhausted. My arms had completely given out, and I couldn’t dress myself. I didn’t want to go on like this. What was this day going to hold?
“I cried out to the Lord, telling him all of this felt colossally unfair. I ended by declaring, ‘I can’t live like this for the rest of my life. I just can’t do it!’ I felt frustrated and angry and overwhelmed all at the same time. I realize that may sound deeply unspiritual, but that’s how I felt. I couldn’t imagine living the rest of my life with those physical struggles.
“After my lament, I was quiet. I had said all I wanted to say. And then I waited. I’m not sure if I was expecting a response from God, but I knew I needed to be still and listen.
“In the silence, the words, “I’m not asking you to live like this for the rest of your life. I’m just asking you to live like this today,” came to my mind. It felt like God was speaking to me.
“Immediately, an unmistakable sense of peace settled over me. My situation was unchanged, but I felt strangely different. Today was a finite period that I could focus on. Today seemed doable. Today was much less frightening than “the rest of my life.” Coping with anything today seemed possible. Possible, that is, with God.
“After that flood of relief had washed over me, I thought of those words again: I’m not asking you to live like this for the rest of your life. I’m just asking you to live like this today. Could they have been the words of God to me? Were they consistent with God’s character? What does Scripture say about the words that came to me?
“I remembered that Jesus taught us to pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ (Matthew 6:11). God will meet our needs today. His grace is available for today. We are not to be anxious about the future, or even tomorrow, for every day has its own trouble (Matthew 6:34).
“God reassured me I didn’t need to despair over the future. He wasn’t reassuring me my circumstances would change if I trusted him. He was asking me to endure today and trust him for tomorrow.
“The future is in God’s hands. Tomorrow morning may bring joy (Psalm 30:5) and even a miracle, for his mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23) and nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).
“But today. How would I manage today? I wondered? Today still loomed before me with all its difficulties. I was reminded He is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18). If I would draw near to him, then he would draw near to me. (James 4:8)
“When my struggles feel relentless, they force me to trust God day-by-day, moment-by- moment, breath-by-breath. Pain, whether physical or emotional or spiritual, has a way of capturing my attention. I can either focus that attention on myself and sink into despair, or I can direct my thoughts to Jesus, and ask him for grace.
“How did my day end up? Honestly, it was hard. Things did not go the way I would have chosen. I had trouble concentrating. I was in intermittent pain. I felt frustrated at my weakness. All I could do was cry out to God and do the next thing. I understood more clearly what it meant to be, ‘afflicted in every way but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; struck down but not destroyed.’ (2 Cor 4:8,9b). While the day was hard, God ensured it would not crush me.
“My pain and strength ebb and flow daily, so I often don’t know what to expect until I get out of bed. This has been true of emotional pain as well. But even when the day holds suffering, I am comforted to know that God is not asking me to live with this pain and weakness for the rest of my life. He is just asking me to live with it today. Some days he will do far more abundantly than all I can ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20). And other days, he will sustain me in the storm. But every day, he will provide all that I need.”
Vaneetha Rendall Risner is passionate about helping others find hope and joy in the midst of suffering. She is the author of the book The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering and is a regular contributor to Desiring God. She blogs at danceintherain.com, although she doesn’t like rain and says she has no sense of rhythm. Vaneetha is married to Joel, has two daughters, Katie and Kristi and lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.