"I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." - Ecclesiastes 3:9-11
A burden that is beautiful? A longing for eternity but not fully understanding what that means?
Irony: “A state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects” (Merriam-Webster).
Sometimes I wonder if I live in a constant state of irony. And when I look at my diseases in that way, it is almost… ALMOST humorous, depending on my mood. I need to eat salt (POTS) but my mouth is dry as a desert (Sjogren’s). I need to take detox baths (MTHFR gene mutation) but the hot water makes me tachychardic (POTS). I need to wear compression stockings (POTS) but when it’s hot outside they make it worse (Dysautonomia). I’m constantly fatigued (you name the disease) but am plagued by insomnia (again, all of the above). I need medicine (for everything) but my doctor literally said sometimes the cure is worse than the disease for me (MTHFR mutation). I have Lyme disease but not the kind insurance or the CDC recognizes or that conventional doctors treat. I constantly feel feverish but have a low temp until I get to the doctor’s office and then I have a fever. They joke that I’m the only one in the world with low blood pressure but “white coat fever”. And on the mental and emotional side of things, I have severe depression and severe anxiety at the same time. So I’m completely amped inside but also listless. I have an extreme sense of empathy for others but also apathy toward myself and life in general. One of my deepest fears is hurting anyone but I end up lashing out or pushing away and hurting the people closest to me.
I get angry about the ironic circumstances of life. I like things to be black and white and very easily understandable, so life feels like the biggest, most exhausting puzzle and I’m tired. Indescribably tired. I’m tired of trying to figure out why God does the things that He does. I’m tired of trying to understand how horrible things keep happening to the same people over and over again. I’m tired of hope. It hurts too much. I’m tired of trying to understand how this burden could ever be beautiful.
But, here’s the thing that endears my heart to the heart of God. For whatever reason, God seems to love irony. He works in the unexpected. Jesus valued women and children in a culture and time that did not. He shared meals with tax collectors and social outcasts. He came to save the world and yet He did it by serving and dying. In our lives, God’s presence is often best known through suffering. He speaks to us in the small things while we are looking for the big things (like Elijah experiencing an earthquake, wind, and fire but God was in the gentle whisper – 1 Kings 19). God hasn’t healed my illnesses or taken away the suffering of my loved ones, but for some reason he cares about the convenience of my dental appointment (that’s a story for another day but suffice it to say that the one person in this world that could have made the appointment possible called the office at the exact same time that I was calling).
I want God to do big things, but maybe the small things are really the big things, or at least adding up to the biggest thing. Jesus’ lowly servitude and seemingly hopeless death turned out to be the biggest gift of all. I don’t know what God is doing, but maybe it’s much bigger than I often want to believe. And isn’t that one of the very definitions of irony? “A literary technique by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions are clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character” (Merriam-Webster). We, God’s children, do not grasp the full significance of what happens on this earth and yet, He is still leading us to the end of the story. He has set our hearts on the path to eternity. I push and wail and fight Him at every turn but at the same time, I’m glad He gives us the gift of the unexpected. And He works in the midst of my sinful fight because “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).
When I can see things the way I’m supposed to see them, I’m glad God works in ironies. I’m glad He cares for the lowly, fellowships with the sinners, and even dies for love. And I’m glad He still loves me even when I am so far from okay. See, I’m pretty ironic too. The apple didn’t fall too far from the Tree, except that my irony isn’t the good kind. I’m fearful but unbelievably stubborn. I am gifted with words but have allowed myself to be silenced. And I love God but sometimes I scream at Him. I pray that God fixes my version of irony and uses the ironic state of my life to draw me to Himself. I pray that life’s ironies become proof that God is working because there are no coincidences.
And I wrote this entire blog post before I remembered the verse that my friend sent me this morning, the verse at the top of this post. An ironic verse given to me on the day I write a post about irony. There are no coincidences. God has set eternity in my heart and I pray that He grows that desire into the healthy version. He has laid a burden on my heart and I pray that He helps me see it as beautiful in His time.