Everyone feels broken sometimes, shattered, despairing, and just plain old worthless. And what do you do when those times come?
I have spoken about feeling alienated from God and the fact that the only way to real peace is to know him. But that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about being a Christian, but feeling like you have a broken leg and are hobbling after the Shepherd.
A few months ago, I was talking to a friend, catching up after a long period of not talking at all. I told her I don’t always sleep well, and she was giving some suggestions on how to sleep better. She asked me if I had asked God for healing from my past. I shrugged and said no. True, God has done a work in me, but that was not through me asking. That was simply God keeping his promise to conform me into the likeness of his Son.
So, curious, I asked. I asked God to heal every wound I might have. Since then, it hasn’t felt like healing. All sorts of old temptations and sins have come up, things I thought I had dealt with long ago. My dreams may be better, but I think about my past more than I ever have before. In other words, I feel lots of pain, pain from things I have done and things that have happened to me. So...does that mean God isn’t working? No. I guess God is. Maybe through this, he is building my faith, restoring my foundations. I trust that he is, and I am determined to go through this time with patience.
The patience, though, is stretched by current stress. It sometimes gets to the point that I am ready to give up on the world and just go home. I haven't had so much stress, financially, emotionally, and physically, since I got out of high school, and that was ten years ago.
Maybe, also, there is more honesty. I have gotten tired of “being strong.” I tend to attract broken people. Don’t get me wrong. It is a pleasure to pray with them. To know that God works through me is thrilling. To know that people I have prayed for have gone on to grow and thrive is a joy like nothing else. And me? I think I remain the same.
I am not saying I am ungrateful, or see people as a burden. I am merely stating that even the strongest of us will sometimes limp. Some of us have been limping for a long time. When we do, what can we do?
The one thing we must not do is give up. Some of us have the heart of warriors, but even the "weakest" of us have an instinct to survive. When we give our lives to Christ, he changes that to perseverance. I don't think I could give up my faith even if every demon came after me. God adds to our own strength the strength not to lose our confession of hope.
Also, we must realize God's character. God will refine us through such times, and he will do it with love. If he seems distant, it does not mean he has left. Faith and character is the goal he has for us, and that goal is for our ultimate good. It may hurt, but there is a harvest from that shattered husk, that painful place. Even in the physical realm, a broken bone becomes stronger after it heals. Not that God "breaks our bones" just to see what we are made of. He is no sadist, nor does he lack any knowledge of us. No, he lets our "bones be broken" to show us who we are, the good and the bad. That way, the bad can go and the good can become better.
I close with something that has been an anchor through the years. When I was thirteen, I suffered an almost unimaginable tragedy. I lost a parent. I was in a sort of boarding school at the time, and one of the upperclassmen had taken it upon herself to guide and shelter me. I will never forget what she said after that tragedy. (Heather, I hope you have rewards in heaven for what you said!) She said, "When you can't see God's hand, trust his heart." That meant a lot to me, because I could not see God's hand at the time.
I pass that on to you. Sometimes, it will seem that God is distant, or even that he hates you. It may appear so, but we must remember, God's love never fails. He died for you. He will preserve you now.
Even when the house looks like a tornado zone.
Even when you face the same sin for the seventieeth time that day.
Even when you can't tell up from down.
Even when you feel like you are less holy than when you were a pagan.
Even when you are still trying to fulfill promises you made years ago.
Even when you feel like a wrung out dishrag.
His love never fails.
His love never fails.
Just hold on until he comes. That's all we have to do. Hold on until he comes.