There’s a sitcom in the U.S. called “The Middle.” It is celebrates everything awkward and uncomfortable, yet is oh so close to reality. Right down to the crows that the show opens with cawing above the cornfields. For those of us in “the middle” of the U.S., it can kind of be uncomfortable just in how closely and humorously it resembles reality.
But let’s face it, the “middle” in life is so uncomfortable. And it’s something we don’t want to stay in for long.
I’ve been reading a prayer page for the last three years of someone whose husband suddenly had a stroke that created “locked-in syndrome.” It’s a terrible syndrome of which the movie The Butterfly and the Diving Bell is made famous (great movie by the way). But it is basically your mind is fine but you are utterly trapped inside of your body. In her case I don’t think he can even use an alphabet board.
In the meantime twice she has been diagnosed with cancer and is having to go through chemo, radiation and the works. Not something you want to do when your husband himself is incapacitated. Her trials by fire have been horrendous.
And yet in this her maturity in the Lord, her joy, her depth of insight into suffering is profound. I feel like a juvenile in the Lord reading her posts.
Interestingly one thing I notice in her prayer requests is the prayer that either God heals her husband or that he goes home to heaven. . Her trial has been going on since 2016 and is so very difficult.
But what I hear in that is the “uncomfortableness of the middle.” It is easier that he be healed or in heaven than the rigors and difficult suffering of being not healed but present. It’s an awful place to be in. She is walking this season so well, but there is hints of the difficulty of the middle.
It somewhat I’m sure what the disciples felt. They had gone through the horror of the crucifixion and were stunned that their hero and the man they had followed was now dead. They didn’t remember his words he would raise on the third day. They were so crushed with certain grief I’m sure they were flailing.
The worst day was Saturday. It was the middle. They just didn’t know it was the middle. They thought it was “The End.”
They were assuredly being taunted by others with, “I told you so.” Their heads hung in shame to their families for believing and following him. Their hearts were broken that their friend was gone. Their hearts and minds were troubled at what they didn’t understand, because wasn’t he going to overthrow the Romans? Establish a new kingdom? Usher in a new season? The two on the road to Emmaus were certainly feeling the despair of the middle.
The middle is awful. And it can last a long time.
For the disciples the middle didn’t last long when Jesus was resurrected Sunday morning. For my colleague in South Africa she is still in the middle riding the ups and own of her own health and that of her husband. And for me, I too feel like it’s a miracle to gave gotten this far because this year has been grinding forward in the middle.
But like everything the middle won’t last forever. It may feel like it, but it won’t last. And then there will be a season change that is, at times, hard and good at the same time. For the disciples their closest friend and Savior ascended to heaven which was a loss, but they went forward with the joy and conviction of Jesus as the Messiah.. For my colleague in South Africa if the Lord doesn’t heal her husband, he will more than likely pass away, which in some ways will be a relief that he is free from suffering and she is free to move forward, even in the heartache of loss. And I too anticipate that there will be a painful end of this season but also a hopeful new beginning.
Being in the middle is about staying the course, continuing in faithfulness, and pressing forward. It usually is not short-lived and it can try us to our very core. But it won’t last forever. A new season will come. It will often start with pain, but it will be overcome with the hope of a new season.
If you find yourself in the middle, stay the course.
The middle was never made to last forever.