So, asking for a friend. What do you do when you have a nervous breakdown in the middle of praise and worship? What do you do when you want to stop crying, but, for the love of God, all you can do is see your soon to graduate sons running towards you as toddlers, as sixth graders, as lacrosse players, as sick in the middle of the night, white water rafting, hole in the drywall teenage people–not people who are getting ready to go to college and start the next chapter, leaving you in a quiet and clean house? What do you you do when you literally lock yourself in the church bathroom stall and text a friend to pray for you so that you can pull it together?
And, if I hear one more person tell me it’s going to be ok–that they will be back for holidays or this is God’s Plan I might spontaneously combust in the middle of “Good, Good Father”.
I get it. Everything will be alright. The blood of Jesus makes it so. But, right now, it hurts. So bad.
And, for some reason, God is leaving me in the spin cycle. To sort out the hurt and self pity and anger and whatever else is caught up in it. And, He’s asked me to be humble about it, and faithful—not numb the pain with alcohol like I used to, or distract myself with busyness like I’m apt to do. He’s calling me to not bow down to the emotional rollercoaster, but not to deny it, either.
I’ve come to the conclusion that in some ways, the hurt is a teacher.
Right now, in ways only God can create, I’m praying through the barrel of monkeys known as the book of Lamentations. I’ve read about the awful consequences of disobedience to God–this group pushed Jeremiah in a cistern when he warned them of impending judgment, threw the word of God into a fire, and continued to simultaneously make sacrifices to God as well as have altars to false gods.
So, when all the judgment began to unfold–horrific death, starvation, the temple destroyed, the walls of protection down–someone dared to admit the truth in the midst of the pain. Because,right before the punishment, God promised that one day it would all end and He would restore His people. In His timing. After the hurt.
The writer of Lamentations,probably within earshot of dying people and enemy shouting, said “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.” (3:22)
What? There were dead bodies piling up and women and children being carted off by their enemies! If you go back and read the chapters around these verses, they are marked with anguish on a catastrophic level. But, for a moment, we see hope, even in a book titled Lamentations. This person does not diminish the hurt, or wallow in self-pity. However.
Like a person singing in a concentration camp or cancer ward, this. Is. Defiant. faith. This is not faith from a coffee mug of Instagram meme. It’s the kind which reminds us the promises of God are more real than our circumstances. And, as I pressed in, wondering how this person could proclaim such a thing, I was struck that this defiant faith was all there was, most likely.
And, what profundity for all of us:
- Faith pulls us back from our circumstances to the heart of God.
- Faith allows us to shout out our victory through God’s mercy even before we see victory happen.
- Essentially, Faith puts my hurt into perspective.
If we learn from our hurt, then faith has a way of flowing. Not because of us. But, because God shows up when His people anguish. Our pain drives us to Him if we let it. I think that’s the only way this person could declare the mercies of God in such awful circumstances.
How the word of God nourishes and comforts my soul–makes the crooked path of my grief straight, and reminds me of the much Bigger Picture going on. The LORD. not my circumstances. Is my portion. My everything. The One with the final say, Whose thoughts and ways and perspective is far beyond me. And He loves it when I declare His mercy over focusing on my circumstances. And, He answers back in ways I can’t prepare for.
God has brought me two sister friends who are each in monumental spin cycles of their own. Who are holding onto the promises of God in ways I am humbled and inspired by. And, they admit their hurt and brokenness out loud, which, for me is refreshing and makes the Christian journey accessible for real people like me.
God also showed His face as I went through my sons’ graduation cards. They’ve been helping a retired pastor Ken, and his wife, Doris with some yard work for just a few months. But, they gave my boys a card and wrote this in shaky handwriting:
“There is no one exactly like you—not even the fingerprints. God made you one of a kind. You can touch people that only you can. Your gifts make you unique. Always know you are so loved by God and Jesus is with you and for you.”
God’s not waiting for August to take care of my boys on their journey. In fact, God positions people at just the right time to remind us of His Presence. And, as I let go, it is a true gift to know through the eyes of faith, I can believe there are more Kens and Dorises He has stored up along the way for my boys, and for me, and for anyone who calls on the name of Jesus.
What a gift that we hand our hurt to God, and He gives us back His perfect love.
I pray for my friends who are fighting their way daily to the Light of Christ, for my cousin who battles illness with perseverance and hope, for every breaking heart, and everyone in a spin cycle–The Lord is your portion. Put all your hope in Him. Even when it hurts and it doesn’t make sense. Have a faith which defies what your eyes can see.