Exodus 23:29-30 – But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.
What wisdom beyond my understanding! I remember a friend saying, many years ago at this point, that maybe there is a reason God doesn’t magically pluck my self-esteem and body image issues away overnight. Maybe the process of wrestling is necessary to strengthen me enough to hold up when things are finally set right. Otherwise, if things just magically improved, it would be like the parable in Luke 11:24-26, where the unclean spirit returns after being evicted and “finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” And I think that is a rather recurring pattern: I try to abnegate my sinful nature through mere self-denial and emptying, like crash-dieting. But I fail to fill myself with God’s grace and love, and as a result a whole host of other problems arise: fear, anger, hate, suffering. (Thank you, Yoda.)
So God works on me little by little, rather than all at once, so that my soul grows strong enough to own the goodness of God in me. (And because my puny little heart can’t take that much rattling at once!) And until then, there will be marauders, and plagues, and famines, and droughts…but those will not win. And that gives me great peace.