Praying through the Pain

“Are you brave enough to pray and believe that God hears you and changes things?” 

Like a ton of bricks thrown at my heart, making it hard to breathe, I reel through pain that was just a shadow.  Maybe I have been hiding it for many years. Maybe I am good and pretending everything is fine, that I can muster up of the energy and positivity to get through my days.  

Except…there are days I am knocked on my knees with an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety about this life.  The voice that says, I messed everything up, it’s too late to change, I will forever feel this way, becomes louder.  The weight of the heavy reminder of pain of unanswered prayers, of hurt covered up by behavior modification or legalism. 

But NO, I am not brave.  Not even close.  I don’t believe that anything will change.

Faking it or just convincing myself otherwise no longer worked as it did for many years. The answers, the sermons mean nothing and I feel left alone in my darkness.  Some days, I can’t bring myself to sit and talk to God.  I don’t want to acknowledge the pain.  I want to run from it. 

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Struggling to sit in the pews and sing the songs without weeping uncontrollably.  It feels painful to sit in my pit of despair next to others who don’t know what to do with a puddle of someone next to them.  Maybe struggle isn’t the right word.  I think I just feel out of place.  Fighting this sense I must be crazy if I can’t just believe and live a neat and tidy life like those around me.  They seem to have zero problems, right? 

Sometimes I wish there as a point in the service where we could all just be honest about what we are struggling with right there before one another, that we would throw away pretence and posturing and truly know we are all in it with each other.

But I am not brave.   If I was to truly understand bravery, I would know that being brave means being honest with yourself and others.

And it means believing when everything around you tells you not to believe.  It is to believe even when no one else does.  When everything in your life says to abandon the belief and turn back. Bravery means to keep going through pain. 

It means standing in front of God, even when when the pain and darkness threaten you in that very moment, believing in a God that is stronger than the pain and darkness.  Believing that God is who he says he is and sent Jesus to overcome the world, so we wouldn’t be overcome by it.

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I write these words today because I myself need to believe them.  I probably do on some level today, but not on the level that I can write this without tears in my eyes.

I want to be that brave.  I want to be able to trust God so strongly that I can get up every day and not have to fake it and pretend that my heart isn’t broken or that I have it all together.  I want to be brave enough to not fight back tears or skip out of church early because I care too much what people think.

Abraham often comes to mind when I think of pain of the unanswered prayers or of years of uncertainty.

“In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (sine he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.  No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” – Romans 4:18-21

I am sure it was painful to walk through the day to day when this thing that God has promised hasn’t come true. Perhaps pushing him to make choices that caused more pain. Ridiculed, probably questioned, whispered about and left out of the circle of parents and grandparents. He probably lost friendships with those that had walked through the early years.

It isn’t just the pain from out side but the pain we cause ourselves. Within the darkness, the things we turn to for survival for some comfort or security, losing hope and faith in the day to day, only to be failed again. More pain, self inflicted.  The pain becomes the norm. We don’t want it but stay because everything else starts to feel like false hope. And to hope means to put yourself in a spot to be hurt again.  Cynical and bruised and broken.  Beaten up by the storms of this world.

But…I know a man, who could relate. Bruised and broken, betrayed and idolized. Those around him had thought he failed.  But he came to do what He was sent to do.  Dying the death we deserve.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Could this be, that God, in his Kindness sent his son, as a human man to experience the same kind of beating that we experience, so we would have a Savior that could relate? That can extend a kind of empathy that says, “Me too.”  The kindness that also gives us freedom to experience the pain, but with hope.  The hope of a Savior, that died so that this pain doesn’t last forever.

This life is not without pain, but it is partnered with the sweetness of knowing Jesus.  Know that our hope is not in our own efforts to not feel pain, but in the comfort of God in the midst of the pain.  And on the other side of that pain, whether on this earth or in eternity, it is the joy of knowing the great comforter.

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Without pain, we would not know the comfort of our Creator.

That is my prayer, that even if the pain doesn’t go away, even if nothing changes, that you and I would know the comfort, the kindness of our God in a sweeter and deeper way.  That we would know what it means to be loved by a God who is there, even in the midst of the darkest days.  Even when the pain is inflicted by ourselves, that we would allow Him to meet us in the pain, to dispense comfort and healing.

Can we brave enough to open ourselves up for healing?  Or even could we bravely take a step towards Him today, to be comforted even when nothing changes? 

 

 

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On Repeat


I have been listening to this song on repeat for several weeks.  I blare it in my care, I listen to in my earbuds as I work out.  I play it in my classroom as I set up for my upcoming school year. 
I listen to the chorus, to the verses and let them soak down to the trenches of my soul.
And let me tell you, I need these lyrics, like a balm to my wounded bleeding soul. I need to hear these words over and over again.  I need them everyday.

I stand before You now
The greatness of Your renown
I’ve heard of the majesty and wonder of You
King of Heaven, in humility, I bow

As Your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us, You are not against us
Champion of Heaven,
You made a way for all to enter in

I’ve heard You calling my name
I’ve heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let you draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves

You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the Love that made a way

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves

You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises You’ve made

I need the reminder that He is the source of my strength and courage. Everyday. Everyday I need it. 
A year ago, I drug myself back to school, figuratively kicking and screaming the whole way.  I didn’t want to do it all over again.  I didn’t want to climb the mountain of changes and challenges that stood before me.  My life seemed so disappointing and not at all that I wanted it to be.  I was angry, sad, and depressed.  
Now, coming into this school year, I feel so much more hopeful.  Not because of anything I have done, I didn’t just decide one day that life wasn’t disappointing.  I didn’t just wake up one day not depressed or anxious anymore.  However, I did stop believing the lie that I had to figure it out and do it on my own. 
I stopped letting fear dictate my decisions, my emotions, and my reactions to what life threw at me. 
I went back to the beginning, to the truth from the One who Loves me.  
I let his truth start soaking into my soul again.  When I began doing that, it was as if the whole world began to open up again.  Anything was possible. All was not lost.  God began revealing all that he was doing in my life and those around me. 

It made me braver in my prayers and voicing my hopes and desires.  It made me dream a little bigger and bravely give over those dreams to the Lord.  It freed me from placing my hopes in my circumstances and in him who controls them. 

When you let the love of the one who KNOWS you best, who CREATED you, who has your life in his hands, soak to the depth of your soul, it makes you brave, it makes you able to bare the hard things. 
Friends, it doesn’t make those hard things less hard or less painful, but it gives you strength and power.  Hegives you strength and power, that you won’t have on your own.  He gives you a hope that doesn’t rest on the outcome of those hard things.  He gives you a hope secure.
He is the source of hope, strength, power, and courage when we have none left.  He is the one we can look to at all times to work on our behalf. 
That’s why I am listening to this song, over and over.  So that, THAT truth, that HE makes me brave, will be an anthem to my weary soul, when things inevitably get tough, when I will surely be anxious and fearful.