When Reviving Doesn’t Look Like Reviving

Want to know the irony of this post?

I was sick on Sunday. Well, it started Saturday evening with purging the contents of my stomach. To be repeated at 3 a.m., 4 a.m., 5 a.m., and 8 a.m. At which point I got up and laid on the couch for the remainder of the day (except for the times I had to scare the squirrel off the bird feeder and throw up again. #Priorities.)

Monday I felt weak, but returning to the land of the living. Thoughts turned to work and of the week’s theme and of the post I wanted to write about reviving. About how God is in the business of reviving. Reviving bodies, stories, even history.

Just look at Hannah made fun of for infertility and how God met her in her sadness.

Just look at Moses who blew it when he killed the Egyptian and how God met him in the wilderness.

Just look at Mary and Martha who were so confused when Jesus didn’t show up and he not only could handle their anger and confusion, he could bring their brother back to life.

Just look at the woman who had bled for years and the ways God knew it wasn’t just her body that needed reviving, it was her spirit too.

Yes, our God is a God who revives. He brings back to life. He restores. He gives new life and energy.

Though I like to be instantly well from an illness, I was experiencing reviving.

I tend to see metaphors everywhere. There is always a lesson behind the ordinary. The common is laced with deeper meaning. Which is a lovely way to live until I wonder what God is doing in the living metaphor that is my life.

Tuesday I was the opposite of revived. I was weak, and foggy in the brain, and wondering what God wanted to show me about reviving . . . because I was either missing the lesson OR a bit off track on how He looks at reviving.

I sipped 7-up, the drink of the ill, no interest in food or energy to move.

{Maybe this is just for children of the 70s in America, but does anyone else associate 7-up or Sprite and illness? This is how I know I’m really sick: I sip 7-up.}

As I sipped, I wondered how much I have confused the way God looks at reviving with how America—my home culture—looks at prosperity. Revival looks like a graph with the line going up to the right. It might be a slow and steady incline, or it might go sharply up, but revival is always up. It’s the underdog winning. It’s the music crescendoing at the touching part of the movie. It’s the electricity being turned on at just the right moment.

Or is it?

What does revival look like when the visa doesn’t come through or the diagnosis is not good or the heat will not end, ever?

Or your children are not adjusting well. Or they are and you are not.

What does revival look like when the financial support is dwindling or the assignment that was perfect on paper is more like a nightmare in real life?

Or the husband you thought would be here . . . isn’t.

What then?

Maybe being revived can sometimes be straight and simple, like going on a walk and clearing our heads and souls, filling them up with Jesus. But maybe it can also be messy and complex, winding this way and that. Revived for the moment, on a level that doesn’t deny the reality we face but is not defined by it, and doesn’t remove the deep sadness or exhaustion.

I’m still waiting to feel better. To not wince at the smell of food. To not wander around trying to think a thought. But even in this state, Jesus has revival for me, and, you.

When have you experienced revival that might not have looked like revival?

This post originally appeared on Velvet Ashes. Thankfully this past Saturday I did not throw up :).

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Amy Young

Life enthusiast. Author. Sports lover. Jesus follower. Equipper of cross-cultural worker. Amy is the founder of Global Trellis, co-founder of Velvet Ashes, hosts reading challenges at The Messy Middle, and is the author of five books (Looming TransitionsLove, AmyEnjoying NewslettersGetting Started, and Connected.)

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