Since I posted “Dating at Halftime” yesterday, I’ve had a gnawing question tumbling in my heart… “Did I say enough to offer God’s hope to someone who is walking in a dark valley of defeat, loneliness and discouragement?” At times, well meaning “encouragement” can feel like salt in a wound, when hugs are needed. That’s the last thing I want.
The impersonal, one-way nature of a blog makes it hard to address such deep heartache. I’ve been there, and I understand a taste of your despair. I have hurt so deeply that I wondered why God didn’t just take me — because I thought it was all more than I could bear. But that dark night of the soul came just before a break through in faith (most of us will have many in our journey to Him). From where I sit today, I wouldn’t trade those times — when I was keenly aware that I had nothing save HIM — for anything. They were necessary cornerstones of my faith, and are the very seasons I draw from today, when I’m under water, and need to remember God’s goodness and faithfulness.
Yesterday’s story of my dating life had a “happy” ending — the girl gets the great guy. I am thankful beyond measure, but the outcome isn’t the point.
There have been other times I have prayed earnestly about things equally pressing on my heart, and God’s answer has been no — he answered in ways I never would have chosen for myself. Ways that made no sense to me, or even seemed “bad” considering He is all-powerful and could make it all right. In my heart I was adding, ” If He wanted to; if He loved me…” My faith was barely a mustard seed. I still have other prayers that are not yet answered, at least not in ways that I can see. It almost seems He doesn’t hear me in these prayers, but now I know this isn’t true. I rely on what is promised in the Bible, and I draw from my personal experiences with Abba — I persevere. And it’s heart wrenching. Still, I trust God. With my life, my heart, my prayers, and in His outcomes.
The “good outcome” in my mind is not always “God’s best” in the timeless, all-knowing world of His Kingdom. I may never understand His ways this side of Heaven, but I can trust Him. He is listening. He is with us. He loves us perfectly, and whatever our moments contain or our outcomes become, He is using them for our good, when we trust in Him.
I don’t want to belabor this, for fear of sounding like Pollyanna. Or like I’ve arrived. I’m not and I haven’t. I struggle. I know real intense sadness and pain. The girl meets guy story didn’t solve everything. We live in a fallen world, and we will have troubles. I also know God, and He is bigger than the darkness. I am praying for you — the precious people who feel like their present situation will never end.
I was thinking about making an addendum to my post when I read today’s devotional from Michael Youssef — he says it well. God loves you; He is with you; and He is for you. Trust in Him.
March 15, 2014
Focus on Christ
By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.
One of the hardest lessons we will ever learn is how to take a negative situation and turn it into a positive experience. In Psalm 23, King David reminds us that it is all a matter of faith and perspective. He writes, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4).
David’s words are stepping stones to a great faith. In fact, if we practice the principle that he lived, God will develop a conquering faith within our lives.
David lived with adversity and, from time to time, we will too. This is part of living life in a fallen world, but we do not have to live with feelings of defeat, discouragement and criticism.
You may be thinking: But you don’t know my circumstances. There is no way for you to understand the pressure I feel or the discouragement that plagues my heart.
While we can’t truly know or understand the hurt another person may be experiencing, we do know that there is one person who understands perfectly, and that is the wounded Healer Himself, Jesus Christ. He endured unimaginable pain—rejection, betrayal, temptation, and an excruciating death—all for us. He entered into our suffering so that we could live in His victory.
If you are looking for someone to identify with the pain that you are feeling, do what David did—realize there is One who is walking through the valley with you. No matter how dark life becomes, He will lead you on to ultimate victory in Him.
Prayer: God, as I face trials and discouragement, help me to remember that You understand what I’m going through. Help me to focus on You and to remember that I’m not alone. Amen.
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
If you too have experienced faith-building darkness, I’m sure a comment with words of encouragement would help others. It’s Sunday now — we sang this in church, and I wanted to add a link: Sovereign over Us — Aaron Keyes