If you are hurting today, I want you to know that it’s okay.
Not that your situation is going to be okay. The reality is I don't know when that will happen for you. What I want you to know is that it is okay to have the feelings you are experiencing. And that doesn't change whether or not you are a Christian.
Belief and frustration, faith and anger, connection and loneliness. These are not mutually exclusive concepts.
Christians too often do a poor job of representing that to people in pain. We make you feel like you have to have it all together. We push you to jump to the happy ending, or to just have more faith.
When you are heartbroken, the last thing anyone should do is make you feel broken down. That is not the heart of God for you.
God says welcome.
Welcome as you are. Raw and bleeding. Sad and wondering.
Come to Him and express your heart.
Cry out in a blues song of anguish and longing and He will be Your audience.
If you cannot find your own, you can borrow some from Psalm 69.
Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.
- Psalm 69:1-3
God wants to hear your honest cries. Come to Him. Come to His people. I hope we can welcome You the way I know He would.
I can promise I will try.
That was my reflection on Psalm 69. Link up with your own Psalm 69 post below. Read a few others, too, if you will. And come back next week with a post on Psalm 70.
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” – John 11:25-26
What are your feelings when you read these words of Jesus?
To be honest, they trouble me a little. Because I know that many Christians have used these words poorly. These are words that have been spoken with good intention, meant to be encouragement to those facing death and loss.
But what the person grieving can hear is, “there is life after death, so you should not be sad about death.”
That is not what Jesus meant at all.
We were meant to live in perfect peace with God in a perfect world.
The sickness, pain, loss, and death that we experience were never supposed to be a part of this world. These things should make us sad.
Jesus came because there was brokenness that needed to be set right. But that does not mean the brokenness should no longer make us grieve.
In fact, it made Jesus grieve.
Jesus said this “I am” statement when He was on His way to visit His friend Lazarus, who had died. (If you do not know the story, it is worth taking a look at John 11)
And even though Jesus knew Lazarus would enjoy the beauty of heaven, even though He knew that He had the power to raise Lazarus from the dead, even though Jesus knew the happy ending, He did not rejoice in this moment.
He saw the grief in the ones He loved and was moved in His Spirit. He acknowledged the brokenness and He wept.
It is important to remember here that Jesus was wholly and perfectly human and that He was wholly and perfectly God.
It is not a sin to mourn.
God is saddened by our pain. He feels our grief with us.
That is why Jesus came in the first place. God did not want the world to stay this way. Jesus came to make a new way. To set things right. To provide the resurrection and life promised in the verse that began this post.
Hope does not erase pain. It simply enables us to bear it.
When we experience loss in this world, we can look forward to the day when every tear will be wiped from our eyes. There will be a time when we will never experience loss again. And what a great day that will be.
But we can also wail and cry and mourn. In fact, we should. We need to feel and process our pain. And when we do, that does not imply our faith is weak. We can take comfort in a God who weeps with us.
It is possible to grieve and believe simultaneously.
That is what Jesus did. And He showed us a beautiful picture of authentic faith.
Read the post before this one, The deep longing in our hearts.
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