We’re talking with Trip Lee this week. I want to dive in deep from the start and ask you about personal suffering, something a 27-year-old shouldn't have much experience with, but as you’ve discussed in your music, you do, in the form of chronic fatigue. And obviously, for a guy like you, who dreams big, this trial impacts your life in a big way. How much does this continue to influence your life physically now? And what has this trial taught you about the goodness of God?
I have had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for about eight years now, and there have been seasons where it really has been devastating to my life, especially at first. It really came out of nowhere, and it does affect my life in a really big ways. And it has always been really hard to help others understand the ways that it can wreck your life to never have adequate energy. And the way I try to explain it sometimes is that energy is kind of like the fuel that we need for every little task we do, even small things like thinking or reading Scripture, having conversations with people.
And energy is one of those things that I did not realize how much of a gift from God it was until I didn’t have it. And so it does affect my life a lot, physically even now. And there are seasons where because I am unable to be as reliable as I want to be, because my body is so undependable. I never know when I will or won’t have the energy, so there are seasons where I feel like I just fall short in every area of my life, and where I feel like I disappoint everyone in my life because I am not able to be as reliable and dependable as I want to be: I don’t feel like a good artist or a good author or a good rapper or a good husband and father or a good pastor. And it can be so discouraging. So in addition to just feeling physically awful, it affects me just kind of internally and just feeling discouraged.
‘I Am Weak’
But one of the things it has taught me, I think — probably the main thing that it has taught me — is really simple: that I am weak. When we are doing well physically or other ways, we can kind of live under the illusion that we are really strong, that we have it all together, and that my job is doing well just because I am working hard or my health is good because I eat good.
But trials really have a way of putting your weakness in your face and leaving it there. When we are doing well that weakness may be kind of off in the back, we are not as aware of it. Trials are like holding that weakness up as a picture and just putting it in your face all the time. Chronic weakness is a non-stop, daily reminder that we are weak and desperately need God.
And I think of 2 Corinthians 12 where Paul talks about his thorn in the flesh. And he makes clear that true strength comes from weakness. He ends that section by saying, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). And he is saying this because that is when the power of Christ rests on him (2 Corinthians 12:9). And so I feel like I spent the last few years just pleading with God that I would be able to say along with Paul that I can boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can rest on me. And that has been something I have been really praying God would do.
Desperate for God
And it has taught me that God’s goodness doesn’t always look the way I want it to. God is always good, but that doesn’t mean that God always answers my prayers, even as I pray them for years. And it doesn’t mean that God always makes seasons easy and shows me what he is doing right away. And then sometimes it takes searching Scripture and asking God for grace to see how he is so good in the midst of really hard things.
And you know, any time that I do something, whether it is a book or an album, I never feel like I just cruise through the finish line — like, man, that was easy. I always feel like I am kind of limping and dragging myself through. And so it has shown me that every time I do something and it is fruitful, it is not because of my strength, because my strength was not on display; it is because of God’s. My weakness was on display, and it made space for God’s strength to show through all the more beautifully.
I think my physical weakness is just a reminder of weakness all the way through and through. It is really not possible for me to, in any given day, feel like I have the strength that I need to do everything that I need to do. And it is just a great reminder of my desperate need for God.