Bend Back

Bend Back

Where does one even begin when looking back at 2020?

For so many it’s been a year of loss, grief, isolation, and separation. And in the last few months, passionate cries for justice have erupted across nations all over the world. Voices are lifted high while communities gather to rise up, lament or continue the hard work of reconciliation. And all over the globe people are learning to adjust to a new way of life: masks, social distancing, and temperature checks are the new norm.

Many friends of mine are feeling heavy, pressed down, even fearful and cautious. My colleagues express sadness and anxiety as the stakes in health care are so frighteningly high. When I hear from our friends across the ocean in Asia, they share the burdens and challenges facing them as new laws go into effect. I listen to my BIPOC co-workers and friends express their experiences with injustice and reluctant hopes for a better future. I field questions from my children, engage in conversations with church leaders, and make signs for prayer marches. I’m trying to live in the present while wrestling with my past- my own hurts, grief and sin. As a former overseas worker, I’m running around with all sorts of questions in my head. I’m trying to keep up, absorb, acknowledge, and act.

But, I haven’t really taken the time to intentionally reflect on all these things…until recently. When I hit “pause” a few weeks ago, I forced myself to be still and take time to think about all the things going on around me. But I didn’t stop there. I invited God into the act of reflecting, to help me see things through the Lord’s lens.

Reflect comes from the Latin word reflectere, to “bend back, turn back” as in casting back an image off a surface, like a mirror. So when I pause to reflect—to bend back—it’s a little like turning my thoughts inward. I quiet myself, and let the chaotic thoughts and feelings going on inside start to settle in the recesses of my mind.

Some of this reflecting makes me feel uncomfortable—perhaps there is some anger, defensiveness, or pride that is bouncing around in my heart. Honest reflection leads me to confession. With confession comes a renewed sense of hope, which is steadied by God’s abundant mercy and grace. I pour out my burdens and concerns to the only One who can calm the storm around me.

I sit with the Lord and I wait.

Even in the waiting, I am drawn into a position of remembering. Remembering God’s love for me and the world, and that someday, one day, all will be well:

“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13,14)

In my recent time of reflection, I came away with a sense of hope. My circumstances and the realities of pain in this world didn’t disappear, but I was reminded of God’s faithfulness and sovereignty in a way that caused me to “take heart.”

In the Message, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”

As I reflect and gaze upon God’s faithfulness and love to all people through his Son Jesus Christ, it brings a new perspective to the difficulties I face now. What about you? Perhaps you have gone through some tough things lately…

Relocation.

Family strife.

Health crisis.

Wrongful treatment.

Financial challenges.

Broken relationships.

Loss of purpose.

Friend, don’t give up! There’s far more here than meets the eye!

As you reflect, do you see God’s unfolding graces? Reflecting may reorient you in a way that revives your faith, or at least gives you the strength to press on in the midst of difficult circumstances. I admit, this is super hard for me—I buckle under stress all the time and am sure I hear Jesus say, “Oh you, Monica of puny faith.” Even though I KNOW God’s got me like a mother enveloping her child in a bear hug, I tend to wriggle around and point out what God should be doing to make the chaos around me all better. If only I would just sit still, remember and wait!

Let’s not give up when times are confusing and hard. As you navigate your own trials and support those struggling alongside you, remember that God is making new life all the time, unfolding his mercy and grace in unexpected and life-changing ways.

Can you identify any unfolding graces when you reflect on events in your life this last year?

What does taking time to reflect look like for you?

Come join the conversation this week on navigating medical needs overseas! We’ll go live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am on Thursday, July 16th.

Photo by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash

1 Comment

  1. Sarah Hilkemann July 13, 2020

    I loved reading your thoughts, Monica, and it is helping me realize I need to set aside time for reflecting. 🙂 I appreciated the way you shared the process of reflecting leading to confession, leading to hope. Sometimes I just want the hope without the process! 🙂 The Father is good to give hope in the really hard times, but I also think He has work He wants to do in me through the journey. Thanks for this!

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