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It Will Not Always Be This Way

It Will Not Always Be This Way

JUNE 17, 2023

/ Articles / It Will Not Always Be This Way

by Adam Mabry

Next to my desk, I have a sign which reads Non Semper Sicut Erit, which is Latin for “It will not always be this way.” I wrote it in Latin because I didn’t want everyone who walked by my desk to read what has become a life mantra for me. It seems to me that though I am (at least as I write this) a rather young man, I have experienced a good deal of pain. And it also seems to me that in the pain, a little whisper has always come along with it that says something to the effect of “It will always be like this,” or “This will never change,” or “You’re stuck with this situation forever, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” But I have learned—especially in the darkest of times—that that is not true. The promise of life after death means—if it means anything—that life will not always be this way.

Two Deadly Responses

Bad things happen when I begin to believe that the pain I am experiencing—especially the pain that comes when God seems gone, when nothing makes sense—is never, ever going to end. When I do believe such an idea, I am given to two different and deadly responses.

First, I am likely to try to fight back. I will turn the effort up and use the resources that I have at my disposal (willpower, intellect, money, etc.) to change the situation that is causing me pain. And while a new job, a new city, or new people may indeed change my situation, they never truly change the root of the feeling: namely, the experience of God’s absence.

So when I realize that over-functioning won’t work, I make the second mistake: passivity. I disengage, try not to care, or push down the desire to do anything about my experience, hoping it will go away. These two bad responses are as old as humanity itself—the old fight-or-flight response that my more scientifically-minded friends reliably inform me is built into the most basic, animal-like part of our brains. Neither of these—trying hard or turning away—help me when nothing makes sense.

Shifting Perspective

However, once I embraced the promise that it will not, in fact, always be this way, my perspective began to shift. Now, don’t miss this, because if you do, then you’ll attempt to fix your problem without fixing your perspective. If you think at all that it could possibly always be this way—that God is slow, doesn’t care, isn’t fair, and therefore won’t help you—the only thing left for you to do is attempt to survive that all on your own. But if you embrace the merciful truth that it will not always feel to you that God is gone—that one day things will make sense—then you can begin to grow and even flourish in the seasons when you perceive him to be absent.

I began to see that, even if this terrible moment lasted for months, years, or even my whole life, it would not last forever. If I woke up every day in the bog of depression having to fight through it on the way to the shower, it would not always be this way. If I dealt with the same difficult people who I’d been praying for over decades, and they still had not changed, it would not always be this way. If God assigned me a job I did not like, a place I did not like, or a calling I did not like, it would not always be this way. One day I would be absent from all this and present with the Lord.

And that little shift—the turn from the pain of my situation to the promise of God’s presence—began to change me. One day, the whole cosmos will be changed. And when it is, what will be its defining feature? God’s presence. We will say, as Isaiah promised, “This is the Lord; we have waited for him” (Isaiah 25:9). We will sing what was promised by Paul: that we have been changed. And we will be changed because God will shelter us with his presence.

This article is an excerpt from When God Seems Gone by Adam Mabry. In the book, Adam encourages believers to hold on to their faith and rediscover joy when God seems silent, slow, unfair, different or wrong. Adam is Lead Pastor of Aletheia Church Boston, MA, a rapidly-growing downtown church. He is married to Hope and they have four children.

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