Over the past months, our family has dealt with heartbreak in ways we have not had to in the past. As I was thinking about the hurt we have experienced, I wondered if sharing some of it, and the ways in which God has shown Himself faithful might be an encouragement to someone else who is going through tough times. Then, when I actually thought about trying to write something down, I realized how hard it would be to share without specifically telling details that could be hurtful to some of the people involved. So while this little article doesn’t tell you about what it is that we are going through, I will tell you this: in pain and heartbreak, I have found God to be faithful, and I am learning you can praise God with a broken heart.
In the past, I have prayed for someone who was hurting, that they would feel God’s loving arms wrapped around them. I didn’t know what that felt like, but now I actually do. It is amazing. I have felt absolute peace in the middle of the storm. That is from God alone. People without God in their lives might say He is a crutch, but He is so much more than that. When you are going through your most difficult trial, run to God. Don’t stop pleading with Him until you have the peace in your heart that you need. You will know when He gives it to you. He alone can give it. Some days will be better than others. I think those must be the days we choose to do things God’s way. And no matter what the trial is, there is always something to thank Him for. The Bible says, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation” (Psalm 68:19). It is a human tendency to focus on the trial, when God loads us with blessings everyday. The more time you spend praising God, the lighter your heart will be, and the more you will feel your burden being lifted. The trouble may still be there, but you can actually experience joy in the midst of the trial. It is supernatural. There is only one explanation for it: God is good!
I was talking with a friend, and she said, “What you are going through is really not that big of a deal.” It is true that I am not grieving over the death of a loved one. (Oh, Dear God, I pray for those who are, that You would comfort their hearts.) My friend had experienced the crushing blow of having her husband divorce her when she still wanted the marriage to last, then she married again, and realized she had made a terrible mistake, and experienced a second divorce. She has also stood by and helplessly watched as her daughter married and divorced twice, and she has had to say goodbye to both of her parents who have passed away. From her perspective, I can see why my trials seemed trite, but to to me, the pain has been real, and at times, excruciating, though not anywhere near what she has endured. Her comment was innocent, nonetheless, it hurt. I have no condemnation for her. What I desired from her was love, understanding, and comfort. Her response was a great reminder to me, too, to be compassionate with others when they have struggles in their lives, even if what they are going through doesn’t seem like “that big of a deal” to me.
Many people have had to deal with pain far more intense than anything I have had in my life, and I do not mean in any way to act pretentious about how I am dealing with the struggles God has allowed me to have. In fact the opposite is true. God alone knows what we can handle, and the Bible tells us that He will not give us a trial greater than we can bear. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Our God is so good!
I enjoy digging spiritual lessons out of everyday living, so with that in mind, I am sharing something that happened a couple of weeks ago.
I was sweeping the floor when my husband came home. He greeted me and said, "Oh, I brought you a gift. It's in the car. I'll go get it." I kept sweeping the floor, wondering all the while about this gift. I thought, "I'll bet he bought me a pair of earrings. Now I am really glad I didn't go ahead and buy the pair I was looking at the other day. It's so much nicer to get them from him. No.... I had better not set myself up for disappointment. "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick" (Proverbs 13:12a). It could be something "practical" that I need. I hope not!"
My husband came back into the house holding a small bag. "Maybe it is the earrings", I thought to myself. But then he said, "I was in the hardware store, and I thought of you, so here you go." One side of the hardware store he mentioned has a real nice gift shop in it that I like to shop in, so I thought, "OK, it's not earrings, but maybe a candle or some other nice thing for the house." He handed me the bag, and just walked past me and sat down at the computer. I thought, "That's funny. Isn't he going to watch me open my gift?" I started to say something about it, but then I felt silly, demanding an audience, so I reached my hand into the crumpled plastic bag, and pulled out......... a vegetable brush!!! I am laughing now, but at the moment, my heart sank as I held the nice, shiny, white brush in my hands. It was something I needed, and I did appreciate it, but he said he brought me a gift, and I didn't think a scrub brush qualified as a gift from my husband. I set it on the window sill in front of my sink.
Later on that evening, I thought about the scene earlier on, and wondered what if anything could be gained spiritually from the incident. Here is what I came up with. Often we have hopes for how things should be in life and we don't get what we want, or what we think we should have. We are disappointed with what we do get, but God gives us what we need. He knows what is best for us. He knows the hurts, disappointments, trials and pains will help us in the long run. Naturally, we don't desire those things. We want all good things (like jewelry!!)
When I got up the next morning, I saw that brush sitting there, and I was able to say, "Thank you, God, for giving me what I need in my life, even though a lot of what is going on right now makes no sense to me, and is very disappointing to me. The brush would not have been my choice of a gift, just as the heartache and difficult circumstances we’ve endured are not, but You are always good and you give me what I need." I am pretty sure that each time I scrub vegetables, I will be reminded of that!
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).