w i l d e r n e s s

today the sky is smoke.

i woke up and it felt like an autumn day.

outside my window, it looks like a chilly portland morning with a misty fog and thick clouds that are about to release a heavy rain.


but today is not one of those days.

today the clouds are made of toxic smoke.

the sky is not about to break open and downpour.

the air is parched and the earth is heavy with ashes. our hearts break as our homes burn.


i spent much of this atypical friday with a book in my hands.

i've been reading about lament.

this holy language of relentless faith.

the antonym of despair.

our ceaseless attempt to hold on to the Father when the rest of our world falls apart.


what is it about suffering that makes us want to hide?

it's as if we are ashamed of our tears. ashamed of our pain.

in need of hiding because of our sorrow.

our pursuit-of-happiness, American christianity has taught us that you are failing if you are weeping.



i have been that girl many times.

the girl that wonders what i'm doing wrong- have done wrong- because my life isn't as picture-perfect as the other girl's life appears.

those joy sucking 1080 x 1080 px pictures on my screen that make me question...everything?

because my wedding wasn't as pretty as hers.

and, oh hey, we didn't honeymoon yet because, oh yeah, c o v i d.

and am i the only one who still cries myself to sleep sometimes?

and no one told me you can be married & still feel alone.

and communication is hard when i want to shut down.

and gosh i never knew i could have so many panic attacks.

and i know i am in my season of waiting but couldn't my promise come any sooner, plz?


i, like Job, feel the weight of the presupposed assumption that i must have failed somewhere and this is my punishment.

that my pain is the compensation for my not-enoughness.

but is this His language?

God, who wraps us in His never-ending affection, then leaves us when we fall short?

this cannot be.

is He not the God who stays when we break our covenant?

the Husband who remains faithful when His adulterous wife runs off with another lover?

the One who pursues us when we run?

the One who chooses us when we are desolate & empty-handed?


i have come to learn through my living- that He uses our suffering to save us.

lament leads to praise.

true worship begins in the wilderness.

sorrow is entangled with intimacy.


He is worthy of my most vulnerable, most honest, most ugly prayers.

the prayers that are sapped with frustration and desperation and i wrestle Him because i want Him.


i wrestle Him because i want Him

i protest in prayer as an act of faith

i cry out not because i am afraid He is not there, but because i'm utterly convinced that He IS here



friend, maybe you're riding cloud nine today.

maybe you are far away from the wildfires that test your faith.

far away from the flames the refine you and burn off what hinders your anointing.


or maybe you're in the thick of it.


Job suffered not because he sinned against the Holy One.

he suffered so the enemy would know that God is loved not for the good gifts He gives in exchange for our obedience but rather He is loved for who. He. is.

intimacy is never a business exchange.

love is not a checklist of things you do in return for a favor.

relationship is never (or should never) be birthed in fear.


we obey because we love

He blesses because He loves


and when the emphasis shifts from shallow happiness to internalized joy in His presence-suddenly our circumstances stop being a gage for our spiritual success.

suddenly it doesn't matter what your hands hold because you know who holds your heart.


do you believe it?

that He wounds you to woo you?

that the trials come & it brings Him great honor when you pursue His heart amidst the pain?


if you are in the barren wilderness. if you are parched for His presence and famished for a word from His lips-

you are in the very place where true worship can be birthed.

where we can enter our suffering with a song of praise on our lips.



I know that my redeemer lives,

and that in the end he will stand on the earth.

And after my skin has been destroyed,

yet in my flesh I will see God;

I myself will see him

with my own eyes—I, and not another.

How my heart yearns within me!


job 19 : 25-27


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©2020 by Essentially Ashley.