I’m praying that I fall asleep tonight. If I don’t; I pray that I will rejoice all the same.

I spend the whole night tossing and turning; thoughts shooting in all directions across my head as I wait impatiently to fall asleep. I am excited about the conference; I am excited about the semester; I am too excited in general to sleep. That and my nose refuses to cooperate. Breathing is difficult; sleep is impossible. I get up in the middle of it all to eat something once my stomach starts growling; I am almost sure that I’ll be able to get at least a few hours in.

Towards the end of it, I start to get frustrated. “Why are you not letting me sleep?” I ask the Lord. He doesn’t reply or maybe He does; I don’t bother listening for it. My chest starts to hurt and I sigh in defeat.

[My grace is sufficient for you]

I repeat 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 to myself; I am surprised I remember all of it. It gives me some measure of peace; not enough to sleep.

Tiffany asks if we can all come together to pray before we leave; it warms my heart. I look at my brothers and sisters around me and am uplifted.

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

[Matthew 18:20]

Nine of us depart. God goes with us.

“Are you willing to suffer for Me?” He asks as I try unsuccessfully to fall asleep in the car. I am utterly miserable (physically only; strangely, emotionally I am good); nose smarting, eyes stinging, mind groggy and heavy. Sleep still eludes me in the car ride to the conference. I never really give Him an answer but He already has a reply. It is a promise.

You are going to suffer.

I chant 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 again silently to myself; somehow I am okay with it.

By God’s grace, I make it through the conference. Joyfully enough, as I could. By some miracle of the Holy Spirit, I was able to enjoy myself pretty much throughout the whole day and retain useful information, despite nearly passing out for half of it. Funnily enough, I delighted more than I complained; it is a practice I hope to continue.

Melanie stares blankly ahead and shrugs her shoulders. “It’s not even funny,” she insists after she fails to understand a joke Calvin shares with us. As I watch her struggle to piece together the wit behind the pun, I laugh as hard as my body allows me to. It keeps me awake and alert for a good ten minutes; I am grateful for belly-deep laughter and friends who ask me if I am okay.

I watch Julian break out his strange dance moves in the confinement of the backseat as I wearily endure the onslaught of my cold. In the moment that I laugh, I realize I am willing.

[I will suffer for You, gladly]

John 16:33

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Another promise, one I place my hope in; I am taking heart.

Bring it on, God. I am ready.