Picking up those bound pages felt like stepping back into the bondage of those days. Hard days. Days I wanted to blot out, not read back over.
I am seeing now that it takes time. It takes time to see hard days as a gift. It takes time to see the days of heartache and hurt for what they can be if we let them – opportunities to grow, chances to find out how good and faithful our God truly is. Because there is something about those days. There is something powerful.
They cause me to press into the Lord like nothing else can or does. They open my eyes to see how desperately I need Him, how utterly helpless I am without Him, and how little control I actually have over situations and circumstances and people.
Those days teach me the truth of Matthew 5:4.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
If you had asked me years ago what that verse was talking about, I would have said death. My brain immediately associates mourning with someone dying. But I am seeing we can mourn so much more than the death of a person.
We can mourn the loss of a friendship.
We can mourn the death of a dream.
We can mourn when someone does not meet our expectations – the death of our idea of who we thought they were.
We can mourn the loss of a job, the loss of our marriage, the loss of anything dear to us.
If we lose it, we can mourn it.
I confess I have struggled with the Beatitudes in the past, the passage we find our focus verse tucked into. This list that declares we are blessed when we are empty and blessed when we mourn and blessed when we are persecuted.
Blessed? Really, God?
Blessed in this verse means “happy, supremely blessed, a condition in which congratulations are in order.” And it feels like a slap in the face when we are in the midst of red-hot, raw pain. I should be happy? I should be congratulated because my heart is bleeding out and I am pretty sure I am not going to survive this?
I admit it. When the pain first hits, I want to avoid verses like Matthew 5:4 and verses that tell me to count it all joy when I face various trials (James 1:2). Those verses feel like salt in the wound. They feel unkind. They feel like a mockery of all I am going through.
But feelings, they can’t always be trusted. And those verses, they are not unkind. They are not insensitive. They are hope. They are the very kindness of God.
Those verses and so many others like them are His precious promises to us. They are His promise to meet us in the midst of our pain. They are His promise not to waste a single tear. They are His promise to strengthen our faith as we trust and surrender to Him even though it hurts. They are His promise to take what the enemy intends for evil and use it for our good.
They are His promise to bless us with what we truly need most – an ever deepening relationship with the One who loves us the most.
I don’t know what you are mourning right now. Maybe you aren’t mourning at all. But when you do face loss that feels like more than you can bear, I just want to encourage you to press in. Press in to the Father instead of pulling away. I know it hurts. I so, so get it if you just want the pain to stop. I always want that too. But I promise you, He has blessing for you even in the midst of this.
He is our Healer. He is our Redeemer. He is our Restorer. And there is always hope in Him.
I’ll finish with this today. I remember standing looking at greeting cards during a particularly difficult season. Row after row of cards filled with encouragement stood before me. Cards to send to loved ones to let them know you care. Cards to remind those struggling that they are going to be okay. I cried on my way home. I cried and wished someone would send me a card, that someone would please tell me I was going to be okay. I wanted to walk out to a mailbox like the one at the top of this post. One brimming with Hallmark hope.
Ever so gently, the Father impressed a whisper on my heart.
I’ve already sent you a card.
I knew immediately what He meant. He sent me His Word. He sent me page after page overflowing with declarations of His love. He sent me line after line of hope and affirmation.
He sent me words that won’t just cheer me up for a moment but that will change me for a lifetime.
He sent me the greatest greeting card ever, but I have to choose to read it. I have to get into it for myself. And yes, His Word is SO much more than a “greeting card.” Referring to it that way is simply how He got through to a blinded and hurting heart that day.
We need to stir our hearts with His Word. We need to stir our hearts, and we need to give our hearts time. Time to catch up with the truth of what He says to us. Time to look back and see His faithfulness. Time to tuck in close to Him and let Him offer us the comfort and grace and hope that is freely ours in Him.
I won’t lie to you – there is still some pain when I pick up my prayer journal. But the nature of it has changed. What once was searing is now more of a flicker. What I once cried out “Why, Lord?” over I now humbly thank Him for. Why? Because my trust in Him has grown. My walk with Him has deepened. And I wouldn’t trade being closer to Him for anything in the world.
I love you, friends. And I am lifting you up today.
Your sister in Christ,