Psalm 73:26 (NIV) 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
When the painful portions of our lives run long and hard the level and length of the pain can seem unreasonable, unbearable and unfair. It can be an almost impossible effort to see value in what is happening to us or those we love.
As Christians, we know we are supposed to “thank God in all things”. We are even taught to thank Him for all things. Well, when the pain involves your daughter being raped or kidnapped or a son being fun loving & healthy one day and brain damaged the next… that can be a pretty hard pill to swallow, even as a seasoned believer. Even if those are not the kinds of things that are happening to you, seeing God in your particular mix of life events can take some time.
Today I read something Ann Voskamp wrote that said, “God reveals Himself in the rearview mirror”. My first thought was, “So then why do I feel ashamed when I can’t see it or feel it until well down the road? Why do I feel guilty when I have to work through feeling so hurt, so empty? Why do I have a hard time admitting, even to myself, that I sometimes have felt abandoned…maybe even betrayed?”
Often it is easy for me to encourage others: “You are spiritual and you are human. You are going to feel. You should feel! Give yourself permission to feel and allow yourself time to work through it with God. It’s okay…to cry…to feel.”
Yet…when I am struggling through the wide range of emotions, I can feel “less than”. Do you feel that way? I feel like I am supposed to rise to the occasion immediately, like I envision the Christian heroines of the past. I am supposed to look like (feel like) the wives and moms in the movies who are emotionally strong and speak perfectly scripted words. Isn’t that how truly strong believers are supposed to live?
Funny enough, I don’t see others that way. I see them as human and vulnerable, requiring time to lean into our God as they move through their own variety of emotion. When I see a friend’s pain, I understand that it takes a lifetime to trust God immediately and fully. I know we will never be finished learning until heaven.
I am always seeking to thank God and to see His hand of blessing as I work through the hard times. Yet…I sometimes struggle to give myself permission to feel. Perhaps you struggle as well. There is a balance. We must ask Him to help us recognize His hand of blessing and protection as He surrounds us in the painful times. We must also give ourselves permission to make the emotional journey in His custom-made timing for our own particular personality and life experience.
I pray that you will. I truly believe that it is the honest and only way to true healing. It is The Way to growth, spiritual strength and joy for the next leg of your journey.