How easily the struggles of life steals the beauty of the Lord, oh how quickly the trials overcome us. So easily I forget the beauty within the process and the anchoring every storm brings into my life. As I find myself swept to and fro by the winds of adversity I am reminded that all things work for the good of the Lord. This is truly becoming a song in my wilderness called life and pain. My heart may be shattered for this time, but there too shall be a day where I will look back and see the leadership, tender love and beauty of the Lord:
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. (Isaiah 61:3-4)
This blog will dialogue about this process of finding hope amidst the storm. Finding relief for the aching soul when pain and turmoil billows over us. When faced with this deep discomfort, I have found this to be my anchor, my journey into the heart of the Father. Growing up in a ‘good’ Christian home I have been taught that ‘having it together’ is good. I am here to denounce this ‘shallow accusation’ upon the souls deep need for intimacy. The soul beckons to bleed, to feel the anguish and to be comforted by the Father at all times. The Lord is not ashamed of our turmoil, he longs for us to find our hearts dependent upon the healing comfort of a friend. It is then that the Spirit of truth comes and releases our pain as we exchange the ashes of self for the beauty of his healing power.
Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you! Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!
…My heart is struck down like grass and has withered; I forget to eat my bread. Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my flesh,
…that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the Lord looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, (extracted from Psalm 102)
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)
There is a need to exhale the pain in order to inhale the Lord’s comfort and truth. So here I find myself with yet another tragic incident to hit my family (due to the sensitivity of the matter I will refrain from elaborating). When something this tragic hits so close to home, you are left with the wind knocked out of you. I liken this blow to being punched in the gut, you find yourself disoriented and gasping for air, while you lie there in fetal position…trying to make sense of what the heck just happened. In the first few moments of being gutted I felt the need to just say ‘the right’ prayers and speak the right words. I have been taught the value of agreement, yet in those few moments I forgot the value of grieving and anger bubbling up on the inside of my being. In these moments I started exhale my pain and start to inhale the empathy of Jesus in those weak groans. One evening as the dust of reality settled, I sat down on the floor of a room and just allowed my heart to break. In an instant my walls of pretense was broken down and I was weeping uncontrollably, anger, pain, anxiety, confusion all seeping from my gaping wound…my cries resembled primal groans from my belly. Broken and groaning in the ocean of my pain.
In my weakness I was met by the comfort of the Lord’s truth. Like a whisper of light in the darkness of my night. Finding that the Lord is truly near the brokenhearted and that within him we find hope. Standing in the truth of my pain, the festering anger was seen and the weariness of my soul exposed. I can describe my encounter with the Lord as standing in the cold dark of the night and beholding the sky…realizing that the night too has beauty. There are stars in the night sky, a chilly breeze that is crisp and refreshing to my lungs. Hope in the Lord is simply this – finding that there is an eternal reality to which we can set our eyes. Even as my heart bled I was marked with the hope that this life is painful yet fleeting. That the Lord stands in justice over my anguish and that of my family’s and that I am fully justified in my tears, anger and accusation. More than this I could feel the Lord’s heart and his pain in the moment with me. I would like to stress this – the Lord delights in the dialogue that is raw and real.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.(2 Corinthians 4:7-10)
The journey of life is harsh and painful beyond understanding. The very image portrayed in the life and existence of Jesus, he too became a man and bore the scars of life. Innocence bore shame, wholeness bore brokenness and beauty bore ashes. It is this character about the Lord I am invited into in this time. The knowing that he is fully man, yet fully God…possessing the fullness of humanity and the fullness of glory. I am seeing how I am invited into the fellowship of his suffering, seeing how real of a man Jesus truly was. Nothing has ripped me apart more than the Lord knowing what it feels like to feel the tragedy of this life.
Then he said to them, My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me. And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. (Matthew 26:38-39)
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani? that is, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:45-47)
Yet, there is a hope in the story of the only God who died on a cross, not so show bravado, but to show courage midst the pain. We have this hope marked on our hearts by his spirit living on the inside. In every moment of Jesus’s hurt, he dialogued with the Father. He exchanged his pain for the hope of knowing the Father’s nature and love. In my tenderness I am engaging my heart and my mind with truth and allowing myself to feel my pain. This is how I stand in my weakness and make sense of my pain. I agree through the anguish and I verbalize my turmoil to him, knowing that I get to partner with the Lord by fixing my spirit on truth even as I allow my emotions to be justified in its rawness. I can stand and cry in confidence knowing that my pain will be justified in the age to come and that the Lord has empathy with me. I can also stand rooted in the word even as the pain billows over me. This is my inheritance in Christ, that I am more than what the ashes of my life says. This is my comfort, I can partner and engage my soul even in my hour of deep need. The Lord has given me his spirit to align my emotions to truth even as I process my afflictions.
…what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:9-21)
I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. (John 17:9-11)