Summer awakens my senses. After a cold New England winter, the warmth of the softened ground gives way to growth and I love everything about it. The smell of freshly cut grass, the sounds of Katydids and frogs in the pond on summer nights, the smell of sunscreen and salt water as we watch the ocean crash wildly in front of us. It soothes, mentally and physically.
I’ve been alive long enough to know that some seasons are like this, full of robust growth. Kids are thriving, I am thriving. Life lessons sink in deep with grace. My inner man is aware of God. My heart is rooted in His word, grounded in truth, and the fruit is evident. Change is happening and I know it.
But other seasons, wilderness seasons, are different. Growth is hard. Appetites are dull. Senses seem unaware. Hearts are numb. Trouble abounds. The inner man is cold and soil of the heart un-tillable. Nobody seems to learn their lessons. Everyone is hurting and out of sorts. Life is plodded through instead of lived alive and joyfully, and getting through the day is the main goal.
Many of my friends are RIGHT NOW in the midst of trials, and it breaks my heart to know they are hurting. We can all struggle for a while and be “okay”, but when the struggle lasts for years on end, we get worn thin and depleted. Though I can’t write about specifics (nor would I) I am sobered by their pain, knowing we will all go through unbearable heartache at some point in our life. Sometimes husbands don’t pan out to be the knight in shining armor we married. Sometimes church members act dumb and hurt others. Kids rebel and make life altering choices. Health leaves. Money is short. Resources sparse. Sometimes people never change. Or maybe our own loved one is self-destructing and there’s nothing we can do about it.
For all my friends who are hurting and struggling, who are going through tough seasons and are basically non-existent emotionally, I hope this post is encouraging to you. Nobody wants to hurt or be depressed, and it’s torture when you know you just “aren’t right” and don’t want to be this way. What now?
I know you don’t want to feel this way. You are usually “fully alive” and this season is wearing you down.
For my friend who just recently told me that she doesn’t really desire anything right now,
and for the lady who wrote that her faith is wavering,
and for anyone out there who is waking up to their own foolishness and realizing that your own actions landed you in the place you are,
and for the woman who has been numb so long that she’s wondering if she’ll ever come through the hurt,
can I just encourage you to hang on a little while longer and to stop adding to your grief by beating yourself up for being human? To stop assuming that your grief is not okay with God, as though sorrow and mourning and downright lamentation is some sort of sin?
Can you believe me for a minute when I tell you that God was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and that the brokenness of this life is sometimes just plain overwhelming?
Can you trust me when I say God is still good even when our life seems to be in disarray?
Can you believe that your performance didn’t matter before and He’s not disappointed in you or your situation now?
Can you hang on just a while longer to the fact that Jesus loves you first and best and longest and forever? That He’s always faithful even when we are faithless and faltering?
Can I just say that emotional dullness is part of life?
And can we all just admit that our culture’s “get over it”–grit your teeth and just move on–mentality is not helpful when you are truly hurting?
Remember, we are physical and spiritual beings. and feelings aren’t facts. Wilderness times are not always things we can control and obviously, these times are not always because of something we’ve done. However, even if you are where you are because of your own foolishness, please remember that in Christ, you are justified, which means that God looks on you and sees Christ, and that’s good news because it’s as if you’ve always obeyed His Word.
Can you just hope in the nature and character of God a little longer and realize that He’s going to hold you until this is over?
I’m so sorry you are struggling. I wish I could sit with you in your grief. I don’t have much else to say except to point you to Christ and the verses that help me when I am discouraged and fearful.
When you feel like God doesn’t care:
But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me.
When you feel stuck:
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
When you feel like giving up:
The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in his way;
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the Lord upholds his hand.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
When you feel like God doesn’t like you
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
When you self-justify and fall short:
Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
On a practical level, these are some things that have helped me during times of discouragement or heartache. They may or may not help you. Take or leave what you will.
- getting extra rest or extra exercise, depending on how I feel.
- eating healthy, small meals.
- setting aside time to visit a friend.
- purposefully slowing down to notice life around you: the smell of your child’s hair, listening to the noises of nature, watching the sunset or waves at the beach, feeling the warm water as you wash dishes.
- doing something you enjoy at the moment. Antiquing, crafting, baking, drawing.
- praying. When we pray, our voices go straight to the ears of God. It’s comforting to know that He hears our heart.
- helping others. It always helps to cheer someone else up.
- listening to Scripture, especially the Psalms. You’ll find lots of true prayer about every sort of struggle, and you’ll be refreshed as you see the Psalmist hope in God in his trouble.
- meditate on one verse at a time.
I’m praying for you today. When you are weak, He is strong on your behalf. Rest in Him.