what if it is not well with my soul?

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My son has started lying. Apparently this is normal toddler behavior, but I feel like I must already be failing as a parent. The upside is the hilarity of him not really understanding what it means yet. I’m trying to teach him what is “true.” What “telling the truth” means. So if I say something that he doesn’t like, he tells me, “That’s not true!” And I laugh and he gets even more mad. I swing from “I’m failing as a parent” to “I could have my own reality show” in about seven seconds daily.

Do you feel like the truth has gotten lost? It seems a little like we’ve created our own version of what is “true”. The world around us certainly has. But what happens when the truth we know doesn’t line up with what we see? What we feel?

My sister got a tattoo fairly recently, and is now obsessed and wants 20 more and wants me to get one, too. A few days ago we practiced writing on our arms with sharpie (this is my kinda tattoo!) and she wanted me to write on hers, “It is Well.”

She looked at the scripty markings on her arm and said, “I’d love to get this tattoo, but I feel like I’m lying. Isn’t it wrong to say, ‘it is well with my soul’ when it’s not?”

I didn’t answer, but I asked myself the question for hours. Is it fake? Is it hypocritical? Is it wrong? To say things, sing things in a moment, when you aren’t sure if you totally believe them?

There’s no creative way to say this:

No.

In fact, it’s exactly what we’re supposed to do.

It’s not wrong to speak out things we believe to be true, even if we don’t feel them.

It’s insanely important to speak the truth whether or not it resonates with our emotions or our circumstances.

The beautiful and pretty confusing reality of this life is that the character and nature of God never changes – even when our circumstances don’t seem to reflect that. Our world is so quick to blame God and question where He is in the midst of trouble and heartbreak. If I’m honest, I’ve wondered myself. When my world crashed and God didn’t seem to answer the way I thought was best, “It is Well” felt like a lie escaping my lips. Surely God thinks I’m a hypocrite too, right?

There are times we need to remind ourselves of the truth – whether it feels true or not. Moments when we need to practically sit ourselves down and ask, “What do I believe is true?” David did this in Psalms 43:5. He asked himself, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you restless and disturbed within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall again praise Him.”

We’ve got to acknowledge how we are feeling – it’s the first step of actually moving forward – but we can’t stay there. Just like anything else in life, it takes work and repetition to remind our souls of what is true when we are walking by faith. These are not light words. Walking by faith sounds cliché but is the furthest thing from it. It’s getting your hands dirty, digging deep, pushing forward, and trusting.

We choose to trust that God is actually who He says He is – and that He is all of it. We hold fast to the truth that He is good and kind when “it” does not feel very good. We believe that the Healer is also the Judge. That our Good Father; the One who disciplines, trains and tests – is the same One who comforts and frees us.

Reminding your soul of the truth is not a denial of your reality. What we go through here is real. God is not asking us to stick our head in the sand and pretend what is happening around us isn’t there. Life is a challenging, beautiful, exciting, heart-wrenching, fulfilling ride all wrapped up together. Singing “It is Well” when it doesn’t feel very well does not mean everything is fine and we will just trudge forward as if it is. Instead, our hearts will say, “My soul will be at rest because my God is good, and He is for me. I choose to believe that God knows what I need and will take care of me, even if my surroundings and emotions tell me otherwise.”

Don’t be afraid to speak what you know to be true. Say it out loud. Stick it on a post-it in your car.  Get a sharpie and scribble it on your hand, write it as a fake tattoo on your arm.

Don’t get stuck behind your own wall – wondering if your heart is too broken to claim the promises God has given you.

When your heart is broken, confused, and full of questions, God is pleading with you to cling to the truth. The truth will set us free. [John 8:32]

So we can say as boldly as our voice will allow, “It is well with my soul”… even when it isn’t. Remind your soul today that although what you see may not be good or hopeful, He is. He is good and He is hope.

Wait.

Wait expectantly, until your soul sings what your spirit already knows to be true.

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