Here & Now

Ramon Hampton   -  

Shortly before Lindsay and I got married, an older friend of mine who was married, with a hand on my shoulder and a smile on his face asked me, “Are you ready to get married?!” What he was really saying was this…“I know you have no clue what’s in store! This smile on my face is keeping me from laughing at you when you answer yes, you’re ready.” I answered yes. I mean, I had a job, a place to live, I was in love with this girl and I was ready to have sex…everyday. But even with that, how was I to prepare for something that never stayed the same and was as predictable as a middle schooler? As I write this, my family is facing the unpredictability this side of heaven lends us. Some challenges are medical, some emotional, and some spiritual but all are at the heart level. The phrase “keep me in your prayers” is as common and frequent as “bless you” is after a sneeze or “excuse me” is on a crowded city bus. Faith filled words occupy our social media outlets and scriptures our text

threads. It has been over a month and I see the fatigue setting in. Sleep is being sabotaged by hospital updates and concerns about the ones we love. A daily schedule for some of us has been more of a thought than a reality. We, without a doubt, stand on the promise that God heals! God restores! God delivers! That zeal and steadfastness is the legacy of the Hampton tribe who were born to a street preacher from Lynnwood, Washington and a lioness of a mother from Everett.

What I have come to notice, is that it’s easier to place Jesus at the finish line holding our answer like a shiny 1st place trophy. It is also easier to place Him at the beginning of our trek

through hard times as our knight in shining armor. But, what do we do, and where do we put Jesus when; we are facing another round of chemotherapy? When a notification from your phone while the sky is still black evokes anxiety? When you are knee deep and in the thick of it and your light has dimmed?

“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings services we do, yet he did not sin.

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:15-16‬ ‭NLT‬

I believe that Jesus went through life like us so we would know that he goes through life with us. He is not only our savior but he is our sustainer. He is not only our liberation but our preservation. The shortest verse in the bible is John 11:35 and it simply states, “Jesus wept.” The significance of this scripture is the context around it. Let me take you to the scene, Jesus’ friend Lazarus is dead. Jesus was alerted days earlier by Mary, the sister of Lazarus, of his condition. He didn’t get there before his friend died and Mary is upset about it. Jesus eventually resurrects his friend from death. But let’s look closer. In between Mary’s hurt and frustration with Jesus, and Lazarus’ miraculous resurrection, Jesus took time to weep. He placed a premium on the right now. Jesus understands we’re near sighted, even in our faith at times. He knows this life is hard and unpredictable. His weeping wasn’t because of weakness but to give us a peek into his character. The next verse, John 11:36 says, “So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”. He weeped because he cared how his friend Mary felt and that his friend Lazarus died. We will grow tired in every sense of the word and that is ok. We are human and God made us this way by no mistake. During these “in the middle” moments, I have found Jesus most tangible. Jesus can handle our negative emotions, he does not grade our faith by smiles and sighs. So cry, ask him why, he’s ok with it all. Romans 15:5 calls him the “God of endurance and encouragement”.

Our awareness and acceptance of weakness and fatigue is our greatest feat of strength. It is our invitation to sustaining grace that only one higher than us can provide. So pray for my family. Pray for healing, restoration and deliverance. Also pray that we are ever so aware that God is not only for us, but he is right there with us.