Have you ever been punched in the gut?
It was the Holy Spirit, and it was uncomfortable.
Because, foremost, the Holy Spirit is strong.
But more than that, the Holy Spirit is a sparring partner that works for the good. The Holy Spirit is, at times, supposed to punch as as she trains us for the fight against the forces of evil and sin at work in the world. It is training for kingdom building alongside our King, Christ Jesus.
Now of course, I wasn't physically hit. But I received news that physically affected me. It quite literally took my breath away. It brought tears. I was dizzy, and confused, and definitely off guard.
Now, the good thing about sparring partners is that they don't kick you while you are down. This is how I knew this was the Holy Spirit, because rather than destroy me, the Holy Spirit acknowledged my defeat. Once you're beat, a sparring partner lets you rest, picks you up, and begin to teach about how to avoid the body blow next time around. God works for the good in all situations, even if those situations don't feel terribly good.
Now, this does not mean that God causes all pain or suffering in the world (I'll address this theodicy in an upcoming post, but suffice it to say, humanity is largely responsible for the vast majority of the suffering we see in creation). Rather, sometimes, what we take for evil is, rather, God's intervention to help us prepare for the real encounters with evil.
So tonight, I was punched in the gut. I lost my breath and shed a tear. But I trust that, as I take a minute to rest, the Holy Spirit is now more interested in picking me up, training me for the next round, and giving me the tools to face the future as a child of God.
Simultaneously a sinner and a saint.