The long night of grief carried me to places I never would have found, if God left my faith untested. The author of Lamentations writes of new mercies every morning, but in the darkness of loss: the loss of my child, my ministry, my friends, my first home, my job, many mornings came that left me bereft of comfort and unable to see God’s mercies at the time. If I was to make it, I had to take it one step at a time, one day at a time.
I allowed the pain of loss to wash over me until the torrent stemmed. Matthew 11:28-30 became an anchor for me. My Heavenly Father neither pushed nor pulled me through the sadness. He gently lead me through the barrenness of my soul. I learned the “unforced rhythms of grace.”
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30
He never forces us to come to Him. The unforced rhythms of His grace guided my tattered, wearied self to a place of rest. For a time, He let me soak up His Word fresh and new like it was the first time I was reading it. He comforted me as I learned to simultaneously cry and sing praises to His name. Slowly, the dawn broke, and I, literally, started running. My husband and I ran a half marathon together, and we are planning on running the Flying Pig Marathon!
Running seemed to jump start my recovery. One may be tempted to think that it had just been enough time. As it’s been said, “Time heals all wounds.” This isn’t true. Emotional and spiritual wounds are much like physical wounds becoming gangrenous and septic. We begin leaking anger, bitterness, jealousy, and envy killing relationships and our own ability to experience freedom. Although, unaware of the origin, we become slaves to the wounds we’ve tried to forget about.
Recovery from our hurts, habits, and hang ups takes work. For me, I found a step by step discipleship program, Celebrate Recovery. It’s for everyone!!!!! It does take time, one step at a time, but we call it a journey because it never ends and we must do the work to get to where God is calling us.
As healing moved me through grief to flourishing faith I discovered Bible Journaling. I bought a simple pack of colored pencils and markers. I began doodling while meditating on scripture. By the time I was finished drawing and coloring, I had the verse memorized and more color and joy in my heart than ever before!
My story isn’t finished, and neither is yours! Mine didn’t end in grief, and yours doesn’t have to either. It can move through grief and loss! Now, I know that there are more hardships and griefs that will come my way, but I’m prepared. I understand that, if we allow it, suffering will wean us off the breast of sin, so that we can feast on the sufficiency found in Christ. Suffering can strip away besetting sins as we learn to depend on Christ.
Isaiah 43:2, “I will be with you when you pass through the waters and when you pass through the rivers they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire and the flame will not burn you.”
The promise from God isn’t that if you follow Him that you will avoid suffering. God promises that He will be with you THROUGH suffering.
Your story isn’t finished! Look in the mirror and see a person worth redeeming! Pick up the Bible and read it with your name in it. Notice, worth not worthy. If you look at yourself and see your failures, that’s OK, because your actions, thoughts, and behaviors have nothing to do with your worth. God decided we are “worth” saving. He’s the one who paid the cost. He did the work. And, through Christ, He frees us from being corrupted by the world.
If I can trust God to move me THROUGH grief to a flourishing faith, you can too! All you have to do is take one step today! Do it one day at a time. Remember to rest not quit!