Where is God When We are Hurting?

Driving down the highway on a cloudy Pacific Northwest afternoon, melancholy engulfed my thoughts.

I found myself stranded on a tiny raft while the shark, depression, circled, seeking the perfect opportunity to devour me.

The parallel between the weather and my mood were not lost on me.

In my scramble for hope, I gazed heavenward with the whisper of one word,“Jesus…” and then trailed off, not sure where to go from there.

I have days like these—dark, listless, ash-colored days—and when I do, loneliness feels closer than Him. It is nearly impossible to remember He is near when He feels so distant.

Where is God when we are Hurting?

Is He even listening?

Cresting a hill, the horizon opened up before me, displaying a gorgeous view of evergreens set against the endless pale sky. Tears began to well in my eyes as frustration filled my heart and spilled out of my mouth to Him.

“Why can’t you just come here and sit next to me? It’s not fair.”

I furrow my brow like a frustrated child and question further, “Why can’t I get to see you like Moses or other people in the bible?”

Just then, as the words fell from my mouth, a glorious ladder of sunshine appeared through the clouds and shone down on the hills in front of me. My breath caught in my throat and in my mind’s eye, I saw God’s hand placing Moses in the cleft of the rock.

In that very moment, a window of understanding opened in my heart as tears rolled down my cheeks.

He hides Himself from us because He loves us.


Then Moses said, “Please show me your glory.”

But He said, “You cannot see my face, for no man can see me and live.”

…Then the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.” Exodus 33:18-23


I admit that because my eyes cannot see Him, I doubt.

It is tempting to want a God I can see physically when I am in pain. Because of this, I accuse Him of not caring enough to be here with me. This world is painful and I am human and I forget there is a good reason I can’t physically sit with Him.

In His graciousness He does not hold this against me, instead, He remembers I am but dust. His spirit nudges my spirit and I am reminded He is in me and I in Him.

No matter how many times doubt invades my faith, I am confident that when I am weak and faithless, He remains faithful. In His own time and in His own way He reminds me;

“If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself..” 2 Tim. 2:13


He is near

His glory is seen all around; It is the hope found in the whisper of a kind word and a comforting smile. Also, it is the grace we find to continue on in the every day—even the gray, listless ones. It shines down upon Jacob’s ladder, resting on evergreens set against an endless pale sky, which causes a girl at the end of her rope to bow in reverence.

The beauty of this world and the majesty of a new day is simply His back as He passes by and lifts His hand.

He is near after all (He is near to the brokenhearted…Psalm 34:18) and yes, my friend, he is listening. He is moving and working even when we do not see Him with our physical eyes.

I wouldn’t be able to handle Him in all His glory sitting next to me.

I realize now, we wouldn’t want to see Him just yet, not here, not now, not with these eyes.

And so, He lovingly protects me.

There will come a day when my own eyes will behold all of His glory;

“…yet in my flesh, I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold and whom my eyes will see… Job 19:26-27

But until that day, I choose the God that is too big to be seen with my human eyes and instead is seen with eyes of faith. He is the God that does not fit in my finite mind but instead fits perfectly in my heart.


Where is God when we are Hurting?

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An Open Letter to My Three Boys…

Do you have sons? What would you share with them if you wrote them a letter? As a mom of three boys, I gave it a try. Here's an open letter to my boys. #parenting #boys #lettertomysons

I’m honored to be featured this week over at Char’s blog, Trekking Thru the Week. 

TrekkingThru

Dear Son,

I immediately felt the fiercest love for you from the moment I knew you were real. Indeed, countless hours were spent imagining the curve of your face and what hue of brown or blue your eyes would be.

Our greatest hopes for you from the beginning were happiness and safety. However, with wisdom comes the understanding that we can not always keep you happy and safe.

You, my beloved son, will become well acquainted with sadness and disappointment in your life. Because of this truth, my hopes and prayers are a bit different then they used to be…

Do you have sons? What would you share with them if you wrote them a letter? As a mom of three boys, I gave it a try. Here's an open letter to my boys. #parenting #boys #lettertomysons

An Open Letter to My Three Boys…

A mother’s longings for her son:

Happiness should never be your ultimate goal

Son, unfortunately, our world teaches you that your greatest goal in life should be attaining and keeping your happiness.

And, take it from your mama, none of us are guaranteed constant happiness in this life. Further, entertaining, attaining, and keeping this fickle emotion should never be our greatest goal.

Additionally, something or someone that makes you happy in a moment can turnabout and make you miserable a moment later.

Truly, true joy is something that must enter your heart and sustain you when the simple emotion of happiness is nowhere to be found.

Son, the truth is, that often our happiness will come at the expense of someone else’s. In addition, what we do to attain our own happiness in a moment can cost quite a fortune for another.

Remember this my sweet little man, and count the cost.

Come on over to Trekking Thru the Week to read the rest of this post.

An Open Letter to My Three Boys…

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The Anxiety and Depression Series – Grace for the Unfinished

Do you feel like you can't get things finished and finalized? Always in the middle of things? Here are hope and help. It's grace for the unfinished.

**This is the final post of a series here at Carry on my heart, you can read the first part here.

 

I’m notorious for running head first into anything—I love new beginnings.

The end? Yeah, not so much. I’m not really a goodbye kinda girl.

I’ve never been a closer and I’m not what you would call a strong finisher. Wrapping anything up (*aside from gift wrapping, I’m actually known for being a killer gift wrapper) is a struggle for me.

So, although my gift wrapping skills are epic, my wrapping-up skills are left lacking. I’m not sure how to end this series without just leaving you hanging.

But in my defense;

How do you end something on paper that could never be wrapped up this side of heaven?

 

The Anxiety and Depression Series – Grace for the Unfinished

I am not complete and therefore, my story is not wrapped up in a neat and tidy bow. I’m betting that neither is yours and let’s be honest, some days that leaves us hurting.

When we’ve been in the trenches for longer than we care to be, we become weary and battle worn and expect some type of resolution. Quite often they don’t come or at least not in the way we’d like.

Maybe it’s just me, but endings seem sad when you can’t wrap them up neatly with a bow. Oh, the abundance of gift wrapping references…

The end better than the beginning?

The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, (aside from Jesus) thinks differently on that matter. He said the day of one’s death is better than the day of birth and the end of a thing is better than the beginning. (Ecclesiastes 7:1, 8)

It seems too counterintuitive to be true.

We celebrate babies and weddings with smiles and laughter, showering mothers and newlyweds with well wishes and hope. And in turn, we grieve the death of anything, pounding our fists on the fresh dirt of the grave, whether it be of our loved one or some long-held dream.

The end clearly can’t be better than a beginning.

Or is it?

On a spiritual level, where Jesus resides and I believe what He has done, I know my death will be better than my birth. But my finite mind grapples with understanding how the giver could be so much greater than the gift.

In the same way, I wrestle with how right now isn’t perfect and how there seems to be no tidy end. The same message is often on replay in my mind; “shouldn’t I be over everything now? Shouldn’t I be “fixed?” I mean, after all, I have Jesus and I’ve worked so hard.

The answer to these questions is simple really;

We weren’t meant to be perfectly happy here.

We were never meant to feel completely content on this swirling ball that hangs perilously amidst an unending black void.

For now, there really is no perfect ending, there’s “to be continued…”

We’re just in the midway.

I find we are in the middle here, processing, not so much paused—our pain certainly does not pause—the hard we experience here is not put on hiatus. Until we come face to face with the One that put us here in the first place, the struggles we face may have no real ending.

It’s okay to feel unfinished because truth is, we are.

Do you feel like you can't get things finished and finalized? Always in the middle of things? Here are hope and help. It's grace for the unfinished.

 

Friend, grace finds us where we’re at and not a minute after.

We will not be all tidied up this side of heaven. It’s just not how the story goes. I have come to believe we are meant to feel slightly unsettled with where we’re at.

My point to all of this is that if you’re wrestling with your anxiety and depression—or whatever you grapple repeatedly with—you are right where you’re supposed to be.

Don’t wait for tomorrow when your anxiety has stopped or when the depression finally ceases to do that thing you long to do.

If you’re waiting for perfect, chances are, you’ll wait a lifetime and it’ll never arrive.

We can search all day long for how to heal the broken spaces within us but without gazing directly into the face of the Holy, some broken spaces will stay… for now.

I still wrestle with my fears and doubts and long to tame the anxious beast that resides inside of me. I am not perfectly whole just yet and the same goes for you.

These truths may make you sad and a little unsettled, but Friend, I pray you’ll find comfort in being unfinished. It is here in the middle where He shapes, refines and perfects. There is SO MUCH unbelievable beauty in a God that died for our sins and imperfections and yet leaves them with us to shape us.

Beauty in the ugly

I have a love for flowers and I cherish that I can plant an ugly little seed in a bunch of gross, worm-ridden dirt and over time the most stunning, vividly bright and fragrant wildflowers will grow. I also adore the fact that it takes equal parts bright sunny days and gray, rainy ones to make them appear. Gorgeous little poppies or foxgloves will attract every type of curious little pollinator, they can’t help but be drawn to the fragrance and beauty.

I think it’s the same with our hard places;

Loveliness grows out of the most unlikely of dirty, worm-ridden spots and others are drawn to us because of them. Why? Because comfort, help, and hope have never come from perfect. Instead, it’s born from hard places in order to share with others.

There is no need for perfection and there is no need for getting it just right. Not here, not with Him.

There’s just heaping, endless amounts of grace for the really hard, crappy, useless days and likewise, for the sweet, simple, mostly perfect ones.

He didn’t come here for the fixed, He came for the sick, the sinner, the anxious, the depressed, the perfectionist, the addict, the prideful, the vain, and the (_____). Fill in the blank… (See Mark 2:17)

And you know what He calls them?

Chosen. Ephesians 1:4

Redeemed. Ephesians 1:7

Forgiven. Ephesians 1:7

Friend. John 15:15

Justified. Romans 3:24

We may be here in the middle, unfinished with broken places.

But not to Him.

He washed us, made us clean and calls us His own, even on our absolute worst days. We don’t have to tidy up to completion and have perfect endings and well-rounded stories. Because He already did all of that. He is the ultimate storyteller—His end is always SO much better than any of our beginnings.

In our battles, we find grace for today and that is all we need. Step by step, minute by minute, perfect, glorious, gritty, grace.

He is not finished with us yet

I’m ending this series, not because it’s complete, but because there’s not a perfect ending.

I want my blog to reflect the way I live my life; in the middle, a bit unfinished with equal parts rain and sun, making something beautiful from worm-ridden brown.

Here in this middle place of waiting to see the One that holds my heart and life in His hands, I long for the ending. I wait with a hope that honestly can’t be explained on an intellectual level, no matter how many well-placed words I string together.

My sweet friend, keep fighting the good fight and know that I fight it with you and so do a billion or more others. And one day soon we will meet Him face to face and He will tell us “well done.” Not because you got all perfected, but because you were bloodied and dirty and kept getting back up to fight.


The Anxiety and Depression Series – Grace for the Unfinished

I’m linking up with some other fabulous bloggers this week:

Grace and Truth Link Up: Cultivating Wisdom
Tea And Word Link Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#LMMLinkup: Happy Indepence Day

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You are strong because you are imperfect…

These inner battles have prepared you for this moment. You are strong because you are imperfect. You are wise because you have doubts.”

(Darkest Hour)

 

I love history and I love nothing more than a good historical book or movie—know, wild and crazy, right?—I’m pretty sure you’re getting a really good view of what my Friday nights consist of.

My oldest son is just like me in this way. My greatest hope is not that he becomes a doctor or successful businessman, but rather, a history professor. He’d be amazing in this profession. I love that he searches for truth in history and longs to see what he can learn from it so he can share it with others.

We recently watched the movie, Darkest Hour, together. It’s an incredible movie for any of you history buffs out there.

The heading of this post is a line spoken by Winston Churchill’s wife to him when he is downtrodden and second-guessing himself. It honestly stopped me in my tracks because of the amazing truth it held.

You are strong because you are imperfect…

You are strong because of imperfection…

A few weeks ago I wrote about “hugging your cactus.” In simplified terms, it’s accepting your weakness and working within the parameters you’ve been given.

Contrary to the false belief I held for a very long time, every struggle is not neatly wrapped up this side of heaven. I lived in a fantasy world of a utopia at the end of every hard-earned, bloody battle.

Turns out I may have been slightly mistaken.

It is not our perfection that generates excellence after all, but our imperfections. They become the driving force which propels us to move forward and strive for more.

It is the constant beating down and getting back up again that produces substance, strength, and character.

I have an extremely obsessive brain, sensitive personality, and anxiety. I have learned it is a part of my brain that most likely will never entirely disappear. It’s obnoxious in the least, and crippling at its worst. Nonetheless, these obstacles have proven to build within me a tenacity and compassion that I believe I would lack otherwise.

It is the very weaknesses I hate that a loving God uses to chisel my form and build my character.

It is the very weaknesses I hate that a loving God uses to chisel my form and build my character.Click To Tweet

So, for this, I can thank Him and continue forward day-to-day. I still seek to overcome these struggles but also understand that this side of heaven they may stay with me.

And I can trust that in the staying, there is a purpose, a powerful God-given purpose.

You are wise because you have doubts…

I have struggled with doubts all of my life, whether it be about my Christian faith or about whether or not someone is telling me the truth.

I’m skeptical.

I never saw this as wisdom and truthfully, I see it mostly as a flaw. But when I chew a bit on the above statement, I realize that there is wisdom in doubts.

Why?

Because I can use the doubt to propel me forward to seek out further answers. It also forces me to check myself and my motives frequently.

I have two simple choices when it comes to doubts; I can either allow the doubt to cripple me or I can move forward in discovery and belief. I can only teeter on the tightrope of in-between for so long.

Every doubt I have ever had has led me to the eventual position of having to take a stand. Wrestling through the anxiety and confusion in the process has made me stronger.

You may fear you are the only one, but let me reassure you that you are not. I have had gut-wrenching, anxiety producing doubts about faith, life, and yes, even God. But these doubts and these fears, they are precisely what prompts us to dig deeper and lean into the only One that ultimately has the answer.

Doubts remind us that we are human and that we do not have all of the answers. They drive us to seek out wise counsel, which will either reaffirm our belief or shed light on our misconceptions.

These inner battles have prepared you for this moment…

The inner battles we struggle with are simply opportunities to grow, prepare and ultimately trust an infinite God.

Our imperfections and struggles are prime real estate where resilience, character, and the power of God grow best.


“I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work he will give us to do.” 

Corrie Ten Boom


You are strong because you are imperfect…

Linking up with some fellow bloggers at these sites, come over and check it out!

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