At first, I laughed. I hurt and I winced, eyes watering with pain—but mostly, I laughed.
I laughed because this is the third time in one month that I’ve woken up with pink eye. It seems every time I come back from a group visit—every time I come back like the psalmist seeing the restoration promised, wrapped up in abundant harvest bundles—I come back and wake up with pink eye. It just seems to be the case that the enemy is unhappy with what I’m doing, with the joy I feel in doing it, with the work that the Spirit is accomplishing in slow days and small obedience to teach and to lead and to love on these ladies.
A few hours later though, I’m on the floor, on my eyes, crying. The eye doctor isn’t in today (or for three weeks). I’ve scheduled to see a general physician, but I’ve still sunk low into sadness because I’m tired and I’m hurting and I’m really, really tired of red, watery, painful eyes.
I turn on songs of praise on my phone. I turn on songs that lift my head, and then my body, off the floor, and I sing. I sing of truth—the truth that is over every circumstance, no matter what is happening. I sing and I rejoice. And I smile as I feel His Spirit prompt me away from my normal routine (the one already not normal from a morning spent at the hospital) to spend time with Him in a little book I’m taking one chapter, one name of God at a time, once a month until the end of my term—Lord, I want to know you!
I turn to the well-worn pages, already read through once in the season of waiting before coming over here, and settle into the name for this month: God Most High. The sovereign ruler. Today’s reading is in Job, to see where our enemy stands before this sovereign God. It’s not a shock to read that he stands well below, that he cannot exert any of his own power without the permission and authority of God, and—more amazing—that he cannot even act without God’s own suggestions.
And I realize that the battle is not about a power struggle between two enemies. The battle that God gives our enemy authority in is not ultimately to show His greater power and authority (although it does)—it’s to show us His nearness. It’s to bring us to deeper knowledge and understanding of who He is. In Job, the Lord’s control is calm in the face of a returning Adversary who is frustrated and angry that he didn’t win out the first time, and so he must try again, determined to leave this second audience with God with a stronger weapon.
And so He gives him leave again to go, to touch Job’s body. He gives him the stronger weapon he thinks will make the scales tip in his favor, and he’ll win this battle.
But God knows that the battle is not merely for Job not to curse Him; it’s for Job to know Him.
Can I also trust the Battle-Maker in this war? I wake up with pink eye again not because God is trying to test me, to see if I’ll curse Him with complaining or stop worshiping in my sadness. No, I wake up with eyes pink and hurting again so that I’ll press in, I’ll lean in, I’ll worship and bless not because everything is good, but because God is everything to me. It’s because I know that with my heart that the Father allows the heart- or body-battles that happen. All else that is happening is nothing; it’s dim in light of who He is.
He is sovereign. He allows the enemy to come against us with the big weapons as well as the small ones. Because He knows that we need to know Him more.
And the way we know Jesus best is by sharing in His sufferings. The way we know the Father more is by knowing how His heart hurts and pounds and rejoices over his children, our children. The way we walk closest with Him is when our circumstances keep our feet at His pace.