“In my distress I called to the LORD, and He answered me.” Psalm 120:1

We live in an age of tidy. I remember years ago we would pose for family pictures, only weeks later to discover that someone had blinked. No matter, that was that year’s family photo. These days it is easy to check the picture and snap it again, or even after the fact, Photoshop and edit and clean up all of the unsightly details.

One of the problems with this otherwise pleasant advancement in photography and personal publishing is that it paints a false picture of reality. Many times—most times—we are not polished and put together, perfectly scripted or timed, whatever the editing might make it seem to be. If we begin to put pressure on ourselves based on an unreal ideal, it could teach us to be comfortable with a subtle form of lying.

This becomes extremely practical at times like last week in my life. I got sick with the flu, and then worse with asthmatic complications. I was fighting to breathe. Urgent care treatments initially seemed to help, and then only worsen the issues. I went several days with zero sleep. I was exhausted and hallucinating. I was brought very low and wondered how this sickness would ever resolve. I did not expect to die, but did not know how I would go on living.

Moments and days like the ones just described are not tidy. Even being retold here, it was agony. The question is – does God hear us in our pain, in moments where our hearts are so frantic we cannot utter well composed or articulated prayers? Praise God, the answer is yes.

I share this to encourage you—God is not caught off guard by the things which surprise us. Psalm 56:8 says, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” God knows what has afflicted us, and what will afflict us. Even more hope giving is that He promises that those decidedly bad things will be used for good purposes in the lives of His people: “For we know that all things work for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Do not be afraid to be untidy or imperfect. It was to atone for our imperfections that God sent Jesus. Do not be afraid to wrestle, for even Jesus wrestled with suffering in the garden. Be encouraged, for not only has God foreseen the day of your struggle, but if you trust Him, He promises to bring you through that day, and better on the other side.