How to Hold on When it Hurts

Has God ever hurt your feelings?

Have you ever been angry with Him?

Can you think of a time when you felt like He tricked you?

Have you ever wanted to do the fool me once, shame on me – fool me twice, shame on You thing to Him?

Have you ever experienced such a loss that you were prone to wander?

Most of us wouldn’t feel comfortable admitting to some of those things. So, for the next 500 words, let’s all pretend that we have a friend (I’m totally doing air quotes right there) who has experienced some of these emotions.

A photo by Joanna Kosinska. unsplash.com/photos/MZ4wcaMfALk

I was listening to a story yesterday about a woman who, after enduring several painful life experiences, decided that God was no longer good. She was wounded and unable to see beyond it.

It made me think of another woman I know who once said, “I’m afraid that, when it’s my turn to suffer, I will disappoint Him.” It was this woman’s greatest desire to suffer well for her Savior.

I couldn’t help but wonder, in the midst of pain, what makes one woman cling tighter to the cross and one turn her back and walk away?

rainy day

I thought of Job who, of course, suffered more loss than most of us can imagine. But I also thought of his wife who, we often forget, suffered the very same losses. While they may have experienced the same losses, they had very different responses.

Job’s wife

His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.” Job 2:9

Job

Even if he kills me, I will hope in Him. Job 13:15

One says, “Forget it.”

The other says, “I’m not letting go.”

What’s the difference?

love

I thought about this for quite some time and here is what God kept bringing to my mind.

The first five verses in the first chapter of Job tell us a lot about Job’s relationship with the Lord before the tragedyBefore the loss. Before the heartache.

He was completely devoted to the Lord. It was his custom to rise early every morning and offer prayers and sacrifices on behalf of his children.

We have to know that we know that we know that the Lord is good. We have to trust His heart. We have to believe in His love. We have to be committed to Him. But this all needs to take place on the front end!

When you know someone’s heart, you can trust them more. When someone has proven to be faithful, you cling tightly to them even as the storm rages around you. Notice that Job never claims to not be in pain. Life is dang hard and no one makes it through unscathed. It still hurts, y’all. But our hurt doesn’t cancel out our hope.

Whatever the days hold for us, let us be people who refuse to let go no matter what.

You are loved. ❤

 

 

When Mourning and Worship Collide

skyI still remember how casually my mom mentioned it. She had found a lump in her neck. “It’s nothing,” she kept saying. I left work to take her to the doctor’s office. When she opened the passenger door to my car, I was sobbing while simultaneously scooping fast food wrappers and junk mail out of the seat so she could sit down. If anyone ever judged me by the state of my car or my purse, I would be in serious trouble.

We left that doctor’s appointment thinking that she probably had some sort of infection. We were feeling pretty good about the whole thing. Then, the call came. You know the one. The infection turned out to be lymphoma. With every call or appointment after that, the news got worse. It was stage IV. Then, it was two different kinds of cancer. A kidney would need to be removed. They would have to use the Red Devil – the strongest chemo drug they had at their disposal. We could not even catch our breath between blows.

So it was for Job. We are not told exactly what he was doing when the first messenger arrived. This is probably because there was nothing noteworthy to share. It was just another day. Then, word comes that his oxen and his donkeys have been taken and some servants have been killed. While that messenger is still speaking, another messenger shows up. Fire from heaven has killed all of his sheep and more servants. Before Job can take all of that in, another messenger comes on the scene. The camels are gone and more servants are dead. Then, the final and devastating blow comes. A great wind has struck the home where his children were gathered. The building collapsed and they are all dead.

There are seasons when things just seem to go from bad to worse. You feel like you lost a fight that you did not even know you were fighting. In those moments, when you are paralyzed by the pain, what do you do? What did Job do?

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. – Job 1:20

He tore his robe and he shaved his head – both were symbols for great mourning in his day. There is no shame in grief. It is not an indication of a weak faith. Whether it is a broken relationship, a financial devastation or a death – it is okay to mourn our losses. We do not have to pretend like all is well with our circumstances.

After tearing his robes and shaving his head, Scripture tells us that Job “fell to the ground and worshiped.” Job did not simply kneel on the ground. He did not sit crisscross applesauce on the floor like a child during story time. Job collapsed under the weight of grief. He fell to the ground as if struck. Sobs stole his breath, his tears watered the dust beneath his feet and he was unable to do anything except fall. Well, anything except fall and worship.

I was at a banquet for work when my dad called to tell me that my mother’s infection was, in fact, an advanced stage of cancer. I remember excusing myself and finding an empty room. I collapsed into a chair and cried. It was the big, ugly cry. I’m sure you know the one. All alone in that room, in between sobs, I just kept saying, “You are still God. You are still God. You. are. still. God.” That is what Job was doing when he fell to the group and worshiped. He was reminding himself that God was still God. It is vital, in the midst of our pain, that we continue to speak truth to ourselves because Satan will be quick to whisper lies. The enemy will try to tell us that God has changed – that he is no longer good or trustworthy. We must arm ourselves with the truth of the God who changes not.

Whatever you are facing today, my friend, be reminded that God is still God.