My mom gently led my hand into hers.
Her tear-filled eyes locked a strong gaze with the eyes of my heart as she spoke ten words that punctured through this very moment in time we were sharing on her sunroom couch.
"Just because I'm crying doesn't mean I don't have faith."
Yes, sweet momma, you are most definitely right.
A heart overflowing with painful grief,
can still be a heart overflowing with anchored faith.
A heart consumed with tragic loss,
can still be a heart consumed with incomprehensible hope.
A heart absorbed with deep implanted sadness,
can still be a heart absorbed with boundless belief.
A heart flooded with threatening fear,
can still be a heart flooded with unfathomable trust.
And yet, as I peal back the pages of my life containing doses of pain, seasons of suffering, moments of wounding, stints of hurt, times of loss and chapters of grief, I recognize a dangerous pattern of polluted thinking and a diluted mentality of Gods power.
My lips spoke, "God, you're my refuge."
My heart spoke, " God, you're not enough."
My lips spoke, "God, You're awesome and powerful."
My heart spoke, "God, You've forgot about me."
My lips spoke, "God, Your love is enough."
My heart spoke, "God, I need something more."
My lips spoke, "God, Your plan is perfect and good."
My heart spoke, "God. You need my help."
I was the exact replication of the women Paul describes in his writing in 2 Timothy 3:7- "Such women are forever following new teaching and are not able to understand the truth... they have depraved minds and counterfeit faith."
Until, that is, the band aids of my counterfeit faith slipped off the open wounds of the heart- revealing former loss, grief, pain and hurt which I attempted to stuff in the darkest of corners of the heart. Still in its original form, yet now toxic, infected, smothered in shame. The counterfeit thief strategically deceived and convinced the mind that these raw emotions simply were incongruent to that of a follower of Jesus, so that he could fulfill his purpose to kill, steal and destroy that which Christ came to set free.
When in the beauty of Gods reality, His truth tells me He hears and rescues when I call to Him for help(Psalm 34:17). He is close to the broken-hearted and rescues those whose spirits are crushed (Psalm 34:18). He does not ignore the cries of those who suffer (Psalm 9:12). He is a shelter for those of us who are weighed down with burden, pain, hurts, wounding, grief and loss. He is a refuge in times of trouble (psalm 9:9). And after a season of suffering, He will restore, support, strengthen and place the heart on a firm foundation. (1Peter 5:10).
I'm still in awe to this day when I hear of a brave and courageous soul who purposefully, willfully, deliberately and obediently chooses God as the One and Only method of comfort, while in-the-pain. There is no greater a privilege than to be witness to such a transaction as this. It's not for the faint of heart-- to courageously swim against the continued strong tides of the worlds system which temps and deceives a mind that there's an easier route, a quicker fix, a better way to go-around-the-pain instead of staying-in-the-pain with Jesus. Yes, beauty in its rarest and purest form is found when the faulty and easily deceived human heart is given divine access to receive the boundless, the unequaled, the matchless, the enormous love and healing power of Jesus.
It's in-the-pain where I can tenderly and intimately feast on the raw, undiluted grace and kindness of Gods power. A power that takes that which is mourning and turns it into dancing. A power that takes that which is ash and turns it into beauty. A power that takes that which is weak and turns it into strength. A power that takes that which is sorrow and turns it into laughter. A power that takes that which is painful and turns it into joy-- so that, I don't avoid the pain, but embrace it and suffer well in the arms of the Only One who can sufficiently, adequately and fully restore the sparkle in my eye (Psalm 13:3).
Our very being is purposefully, intricately & delicately designed to experience the opposites of both pain and Joy while clinging to the assurance of His comfort, the fulfillment of His love, the rest of His presence and the confidence of His power.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega- the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who (choose me while-in-the-pain) will inherit all these blessings and I will be their God and they will be my children." (Revelation 21:6-7)