This pain can heal or this pain can separate me.
This pain is my beginning or this pain is a door to distrusting God.
Two different perspectives with two very different outcomes. I have the autonomy to decide which one. This is my brave decision.
My pain leads me to an honest question. How can God allow this horrible thing?
I cannot figure God out. God is supposed to be good. But this God is unpredictable. I love God whom I love and who breaks my heart. Why?
My mind wanders to thoughts of disbelief in God because that makes more sense to me than believing in God who would allow this horrible. The thought that God chooses to not protect me or abandons me in my depth of despair sends me into deeper despair. I can’t bear it. Therefore, God must not exist. The “God gig” is up.
This disbelief becomes a solace. It is more comfortable than the abandonment that I am feeling. It also appears to be the safest option. My heart is already so smashed and trying to figure out why God allowed this horrible to happen smashes my heart even more.
Disbelief in God–or another option of creating a smaller God with my own rules–makes more sense to me than believing in God who would allow this horrible.
I have been here, more than once. This is where I have learned that pain is a meeting place with God. It is a place of the truest honesty.
In that pit of despair is my meeting place with God. This is my hope having bloody fists.
In that pit of despair from the horrible thing that is real (it really happened to me, I can’t minimize it away), it really feels like God has abandoned me. I do tell myself lies so I can figure out what happened. Loneliness lies too. People become scary because I don’t want them to know my dark thoughts. Or my raging anger at God. Despair does a darn good job at keeping me small and in that pit.
In my truest honesty, I let go of my “supposed to’s.” I let go of my control. I ask all of my questions. I feel all of the emotions, especially the painful and hopeless one of despair.
From that pit of despair, God meets me and I see beauty. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. Psalm 40:2.
God draws near to lift me.
There is no other way to pull me out. God has to come near. God does come near. I can testify that he has. God leads me to solid ground—that solid ground is rarely what I expected. Hence why my “supposed to’s” keep God small.
For me to be steadied as I walk along, God has to be close to steady me. Continually.
When I allow God to lead me out from my haze of despair, I am amazed at the gifts of beauty. Often they come in people’s faces. People’s faces who did not give me platitudes or drive-by prayers.
“When there is a storm, believe God. When there is stillness, believe God. He is too holy to deceive. Too holy to lead you anywhere but to truth. When God tells you to ‘cast your cares on him because he cares for you,’ he is not lying. 1 Peter 5:7. There is no deceit found in his mouth then; search for it now and you will only find light. He can be trusted with our cares because a holy God cannot be an apathetic God.”–Jackie Hill Perry, Holier Than Thou, p. 59
Pain is a meeting place with God who is not apathetic.
But sheesh, this horrible broke me. And made me. This is what the beautiful people know. You can’t reason this out of us because we have seen God in that pit of despair with us. We have seen God be near and holy, bigger and lower.
Pain has beauty in it. Beauty seeps out when your decisions of bravery define you. When you choose vulnerability over numbing. When you allow the beauty of pain to shape you. This shape often has the form of Jesus. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 5:10. There is that promise again of God drawing near to you and placing you on a firm foundation.
This is what the beautiful people know.
“The deepest things that I have learned in my own life have come from the deepest suffering.”–Elizabeth Elliott