Comfortable in My Misery
Ephesians 1:18 …That you may know what is the hope to which he has called you…
Before marriage, I lived on my own for the better part of a decade, during which time, unlaundered sheets and dirty bathrooms became normal. I gradually became desensitized to living conditions that I look back on now with some disgust. It was only after getting married that I returned to weekly bathroom cleanings and normal hygiene. In relearning what it was like to live in sanitary conditions, I regained my sensitivity to my previous squalor.
The same was true with my addiction. I did not set out to become enslaved to a pill, but gradually, with one bad decision after another, I descended into madness and became comfortable with behavior that I now find revolting. Corruption became normal and the idea of living free was a hopeless dream. I was lost in my addiction and could not imagine climbing over the mountain of misery it would take to break free. Only now, on the other side, am I able to see the depths to which I sunk.
In my recovery, I became painfully aware of my need for God. In my need, I learned to seek him desperately. I suspect that I have just begun to scratch the surface of my relationship with God, but even so, I am now acutely aware of anything that comes between us. Where I was once comfortably numb to the distance between us, I now feel significant discomfort when I turn my gaze from God.
When I willfully choose self over God, I turn away from him. Then, when I try to pray and meditate, I realize that I just cannot face him until I address the issue. When I am in open rebellion to him, I cannot be filled with his hope and joy. Though I once was quite accustomed to the feeling, the absence of his hope and joy, is now quite unpleasant.
I regularly meet with those who think they want to be free. Living in misery, they have some idea that they want God and freedom, but they remain unwilling to do what it takes to get there. They see the mountain of discomfort they must climb to abandon their misery and they decide that it would just be easier to remain in it. I have been there.
I may say that I want to know the presence of God, but if I am not experiencing it, then I must realize that I have not been willing to do what it takes to get it. Paul, in today’s passage, prayed that the Christians in Ephesus would come to know the hope and power of God, but he could not produce it for them. They had to pursue it for themselves.
The same is true for me. If I want to know the peace, hope and joy of God, then I must daily, be willing to do whatever it takes to get there. If I am chronically unhappy, then I must daily, do whatever it takes to turn my gaze from self to God so that I may know the peace only He can bring.
Often though, I have remained in my squalor as it was just too much work to leave behind that which was making me miserable. If I want to know God, I must continually abandon the misery of me.