My throat tightened, but tears failed to follow. You know that old feeling…when sadness wedges itself in your throat, making it hard to breathe. It’s like a century passes before you’re able to swallow down the sorrow. Behold the sign of familiar pain—the kind that almost always lingers in the background like a pilot light.
It’s a symptom of a heart that longs, a heart that’s sick, a heart where waiting feels endless.
Forfeiting God’s Best
Ever since I can remember, I’ve run away from pain. I try to avoid it at all costs, seeking ways to maneuver about unscathed by it.
My mind flashes back to another time—a time where a little girl carried on because she couldn’t swallow the pill her mom gave her. Her legs kicking, eyes swollen with monstrous tears. She—I—didn’t want to take the pill. I knew my body needed it. I knew my mom was only trying to provide what would heal my sickness. But I utterly despised the thought. I’m still that little girl sometimes. I’m still prone to panic and to flee. Even as an adult, I often don’t want what’s best for me.
I long to escape the pain; to hide from the sorrow. But God has called me to this season of waiting—longing—groaning. Most days, my heart settles into the groove of the daily fight of being called to wait. Still, other days I wanna crawl out of my own skin and slip into a new life—one where rainbow babies exist as my reality and not just the reality of women around me.
But to run from this suffering would be to run from God’s best for my life. It would be an act which abandons gifts I can receive no other way than to walk this hard road. It would be prideful, and it would be a shame.
Many of us don’t want what’s best for us. God wants to bring healing into our lives and revive our souls by allowing various trials to shape our hearts (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4). And we find ourselves wanting to bolt. We want our lives to remain comfortable. But is it really comfortable to stay on the opposite side of growth? Should we be content with that? Certainly not.
Trusting in Future Circumstances
“I’m so ready for this season to be over,” I groaned to my husband. There are times when the grief is too raw and the temptation to respond from my unruly flesh presses too closely. But this statement I’ve often repeated in my head provides a glimpse into a lie many of us believe.
It tells the story of a girl who believes life would be easier if a baby were in her arms (or with a husband, with more friends, with obedient children, with financial stability, with physical comfort etc.). It reveals a heart that trusts in a circumstance rather than the God who is sovereign over all things.
If we follow this thought to the root in our heart, we will find our hope to be misplaced and our beliefs about God to be faulty.
The truth is, the next season of your life may be just as hard. It will bring with it its own challenges. The only safe place for our hope is in Christ. In him, our true hope is found—not wishful thinking, but a sure, steady hope.
So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:17-20 ESV)
We don’t have to want the trial, but let us be content with it, placing our hope in the Lord. We can even come to a place of thanksgiving for it, knowing it draws us closer to him.
God is perfectly good, completely sovereign, and all-wise. When we strive to avoid suffering and believe a better circumstance is the antidote to all our needs, we show our lack of faith in God’s wisdom and goodness. We claim to know better. But because God’s goodness is infinite, we can know for certain he has chosen the best path for our lives, even if it be filled with suffering. We must be still and trust him (Psalm 37:3-7).
He Will Hold Us Fast
A fellow sufferer asked me recently, “How do you survive this pain?” Certainly, the answer is Jesus. I believed losing our third baby would undo me, and yet, here I stand. It must be by God’s grace. Furthermore, I must persevere. Where else can I go? It’s Jesus who has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). In him alone is comfort and hope found.
When a season of suffering is prolonged, we begin to see just how much we need the abiding power of the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts, causing us to persevere in faith. We may find ourselves less likely to take credit for clinging to God. For we know it is he who clings to us.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 6:27-28 ESV)
Friend, I don’t know what you’re facing. But I know the God who reigns over your life and mine. He is worthy of our trust. When you feel yourself longing to run away from the pain before you, will you cry out to him for help instead? Truly, when we feel we can’t go one step further down the path of sorrow, when we feel our faith failing, he will hold us fast.