The past year has been rough.

In that time I’ve cried out to God with ugly sobs. Sometimes I was enraged that specific and (what I thought were) God honoring requests – went completely sideways. Some days I asked if He was punishing or teaching me. Other times I asked if there were sins causing my pain. I’ve existed most of this year on a continuum of frustration, numbness, and exhaustion.

Coincidentally, I’ve been reading about the prophets recently. Following God often resulted in them being isolated and beaten. Jeremiah lost his spouse, “…his dearest treasure.” Ezekiel had to bear, emotionally and physically, the sins of Israel. The longer I read the more I wondered,

How did they maintain faith and joy?

After all, God told Habakkuk to simply wait (2:3). Daniel was a prisoner (2:25). Ezekiel said that although the Spirit lifted him up, he “…went away in bitterness and turmoil.” (2:14). Jeremiah questioned what God was doing (12). How could these men say things like,

“Even though the figs have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines, even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren, even though the flocks die in the fields and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord…” (Hab. 3:17-18b)?

Although I’m not sure how the prophets did it, I know when Ezekiel felt broken and angry, he also acknowledged that the Lord’s hold on him was strong (2:14), and God promised He’d be a sanctuary to Israel DURING their exile (11:16). Jeremiah professed God would restore and have mercy on his broken, hurting children (33:26).

I also read that God told Ezekiel, “…let all my words sink deep into your own heart…” (2:10). I don’t know entirely how to navigate painful times, but I know reading and wrestling with God and His Word has given my head hope when my heart’s lost hope. And as Christ’s love gradually sunk deeper into my heart – He’s been my sanctuary.

And for that, I rejoice in the Lord.