Have you ever had an experience that felt like your beating heart was ripped from your chest? A body-crumpling, soul-wrenching sadness? A feeling of absolute helplessness? I have.
It was the day I came home from the hospital after giving birth- but didn’t bring my baby home with me.
It had been a traumatic few weeks. Sudden illness, bed rest, and then a baby born 8 weeks early. Overall, there were so many blessings. He was small, but healthier than they expected for his age. He needed an IV, feeding tube, and temperature-controlled incubator. He wasn’t ready to come home when I was.
It could have been worse- so much worse- for him and me. I was grateful.
But yet I was not prepared. I was not prepared for the overwhelming emotions I would face when I stepped through the door of my house without my baby. The unmet expectations of what that moment was supposed to be. The feelings of failure because I couldn’t care for him. The fears of an unknown future. The profound sense that something was missing: that a part of me was not there.
I felt like I was drowning. Suffocating. My emotions flooded out and drenched my bed with tears.
I have had these kinds of moments only a few times in my life. I cannot fathom the difficulty faced by those who struggle regularly with depression.
It seems sadness is one of the common denominators of being human. It is a part of the broken world in which we live. And that is not new. It has been around since shalom was broken at the beginning of all things.
And so, it should not surprise me that the Bible puts words to how I felt that day. I find them in Psalm 6.
Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint; heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long? I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes. - Psalm 6:2-3, 6-7
Though these words are sad, I find so much comfort in them. I find reassurance in words that do not sugar coat the human experience.
It is interesting that many have felt like churches display “shiny, happy Christians.” People who are always smiling, always good. People who always have it all together, and put that perfection on display.
Because the Bible presents something different.
The Bible displays broken, hurting people. People not afraid to present their authentic emotions. People who cry out for help and put their weaknesses on display.
It also presents a God who hears.
the LORD has heard my weeping. The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer. - Psalm 6:8b-9
God does not want us to pretend. He does not expect us to have it all together. He looks for us to come to Him.
He hears us. He listens. He cares. He accepts our broken and tear-stained prayers.
In verse 4 of this Psalm, David finds the courage to pray, and finds the sliver of hope he holds on to: the Lord’s unfailing love.
We can do the same thing.
No matter how bad things get, God’s love does not fail us. That does not promise our hearts will not be ripped out. Or that our helplessness won’t overwhelm us at times. What it does promise is that we are not alone. We have a God who hears. Who is next to us, holding us up, and giving us strength to face a new day.
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. - Lamentations 3:22-23
(For more details on the hope and healing that were a part of Cameron’s birth story, check out the post He Knew.)
* Photo attribution: Flickr Creative Commons, Alyssa L. Miller