I am certain you have experience it, that deep and unsettling heart ache. The kind that weighs your shoulders down into a low sagging hunch, starves your belly of nourishment, knits your brows together in an ever present look of pain and sorrow and where tears once ran freely no longer come. The kind that in moments of forgotten joy its vapours creep up around your ankles, cling and rise up to your chest proceeding to grab hold of your heart and as an anchor dropped off the side of a ship, drags it back down with strength and purpose. Drags it back to the dark recesses of angst and pain yet again.
Dear Heart, I know it looks like there is no hope and you are hurting deeply. I am here to come under you, to support you with a truth that will give you strength to withstand. Your hurt and pain is real but what you do next, dear Heart, determines the outcome. Will you succumb to the grief and sorrow or will you surrender to The One who “… has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…”? (Isaiah 53:4)
The danger lies in allowing the circumstances to consume your view from Christ. Acknowledging the pain and hurt of the situation is one thing but staying there is another. Heart, might I direct you to the Psalms. Read them, pour over them. They are wonderful examples to read and see how others handle pain, trial, suffering and threat without it taking root in their hearts and without completely obscuring their view of God. A good portion of the Psalms were written by David. If you know anything of him you know his life was full of dire and bleak situations. Some were thrusted upon him, while others were the making of his own sin. Many of his Psalms begin similar to what you, Heart, are feeling. There is much pain, angst, tiredness and questions in his Psalms.
O Lord, Deliver My Life
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments; according to The Sheminith.[a] A Psalm of David.
6 O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath.
2 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
3 My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O Lord—how long?
4 Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise?
6 I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
7 My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.
8 Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
9 The Lord has heard my plea;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.
(Passage from Bible Gateway in the English Standard Version translation)
Do verses 1-7 sound the least bit familiar to you? Do David’s description of his turmoil sound similar as you are feeling? David ends (verses 8-10) with boldly declaring to his enemies that the The Lord has heard him. He is not alone and The Lord will help him. Can you confidently declare the same?
How Long, O Lord?
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
13 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
(passage from Bible Gateway in the English Standard Version)
Although our lives might not be in imminent danger as the psalmist’s was, can you hear his heart? His pain, his sorrow? Again, David’s tone and gaze are shifted at the end (verses 5-6) from circumstance to his deliverer. From turmoil to tranquility he is realigned and confident in God. As these particular Psalms unfold it seems that David has lost all hope and it seems that they will conclude with David remaining in languish. Yet, before they close off the tone shifts and David’s gaze is altered. He remembers God’s steadfast love, he rejoices in His salvation and recognizes His goodness. He is never fixed on the outward for too long but he always readjusts his sight upwards.
Heart, did you notice to whom these Psalms were directed? They were not sung to a friend, colleague or family member. David poured out his heart to God. In prayer we can go, take all our pain, sorrow and questions, to God. We can call out for help and he will hear us. But I caution you, dear Heart, like David don’t allow your doubts and questions to linger and turn to blaming God. Won’t you turn all of your suffering, hurt and confusion to praising God. Praise Him for His character and all His wonderful deeds. I know, in the pain it’s hard to sometimes even think how to pray. Why don’t you pray the Psalms. His Word will never fail you.
How did David know these truths about who God is? Heart, I implore you to search the scriptures for yourself. Pour through the pages of the Gospel of John and see how the redemption story unfolded. Go back to the Old Testament and see how that God of Israel is still the same God of today. Dig deep into Romans and see our depraved nature and the merciful and gracious God who gives the free gift of salvation, through Christ, to anyone who believes. Dear, dear, Heart how can you stand firm as the Psalmist did if you do not know the truth like the Psalmist did.
Lastly, you can’t go though this sorrow alone, Heart. Find a friend who is willing to cry with you, share the truth of scripture with you and when needed, lovingly tell you when enough wallowing is enough. This Christian life is not to be lived in isolation, lean on the Church for support and encouragement as you go through this heart wrenching season.
My dearest Heart, the Lord loves you and you are not alone. Pray, praise Him, seek him though his word and link arms with other Christians. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8, English Standard Version)
As I leave you Heart, may these songs minister to you and you find encouragement in their words.
“When darkness seems to hide his face, I rest on his unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gail my anchor holds within the vale. On christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”
After all He is Still Good.