Epsom salt baths proved to be a great gift to me during my most recent health battle. The warmth of the water eased my pain and the salts detoxed my system, which I greatly needed. Oftentimes I’d close my eyes, soak in the dark, and listen to worship music. One moment at a time, I’d somehow get through this.
An author speaker friend with a much larger platform than mine texted me one day. She asked me to pray. She had the flu, right in the midst of her speaking/travel season, with a new book releasing as well. I was glad to pray. I felt so unproductive otherwise.
Right before I stepped into my salt bath, I’d received another text from this friend. Her flu only lasted three days and while she was sick, her book launched to the bestsellers’ list. To be honest, I was grateful for her, grateful God heard my prayers on her behalf. But I was sad for me. I’d been battling this round for going on two years. At times God seemed present, but other times, excruciatingly silent. Every which way I turned, I noticed people who either bounced through life or whose trials seemed to come and go in a matter of days.
Why, Lord? Why don’t I get to be one of those people? Do I have to endure everything I fear? Does every battle have to take me to the absolute end of myself? What is it about me that requires such refining times?
The heavens didn’t open that night to offer an answer that satisfied or settled things for me. But I did sense God’s nearness which is always better than answers. Over time, though, I learned to quit keeping score. Everyone walks through the valley of the shadow; some through deeper valleys with darker shadows. But everyone struggles. Thankfully, God is always with us. He will never leave us. And if we trust Him, He will show us how to find treasures in the darkness, gifts from the valley.
One of the worst things we can do is to compare our heartbreak with someone else’s blessing. Comparison will never offer us a clear perspective on either story. That’s especially true when you contrast your hardships with someone else’s happier moments.
I don’t know who I’d be if not for the things I’ve suffered. I shudder to imagine, truthfully. But I am grateful that God welcomed my questions, doubts, and fears amidst my pain. He was a safe place for me to lament and wonder about my trial. He never shunned me or punished me for wondering about the seeming unfairness of it all. Of course, if we step back and look at the greater global issues of our day, we’ll get lost in the mire of inequity and injustice. Nothing about life is fair. But Jesus is just. And one day, He will make everything right.
Recently on Middays with Susie Larson, I spoke with Michele Cushatt about her book, “Relentless: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves.” She writes:
God’s presence doesn’t sit in judgment. He sits in mercy. He doesn’t withhold His compassion until I get all my Christianity right. He doesn’t even wait for me to have it all together to show me His kindness. Though my prayers are flawed and my performance unpredictable, though I claim to love Him and can’t always understand Him, His mercy carries me. It carries every single one of us…and the glimmers of His presence cover us like a bottle of glitter upended.
This is absolutely true. If your heart is broken and you wonder why God didn’t step in before things fell apart, don’t run away from God, run towards Him. He is for you, not against you. He doesn’t sit in judgment. He sits in mercy. In Him you’ll find compassion, grace, mercy, comfort and peace. And, in heaven one day, you’ll find answers.
May God awaken your faith to believe that He really is making all things new. He is in the process of redeeming your story. One faith-step at a time, dear one. That’s all you need to accomplish right now. Soon, this season will pass, and you’ll be glad you trusted Him.
When God breaks your heart
I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.”
Revelation 21:3-5 (MSG)