There have been times when I’ve felt like I’m just a gigantic ball of pain. In those moments it feels like I’ve taken blow after blow from every angle and I fear the next one will be the one which knocks me out. My reactions are over-sensitive, everything hurts more than it should, and nothing seems able to pull me out of the pit I’m in. And I’ll be honest: in those moments I’m furious at God!
One evening recently I went into the chapel and yelled at Jesus in the tabernacle. “Patience, child” didn’t cut it with me this time – I wanted more from Him. I wanted explanations and outlines of His plans because the details I’d figured out for myself made no sense. My resolve to trust Him in all situations had broken, and the anger was seeping out. I didn’t want to be patient. I didn’t want to have to trust. I wanted something tangible to take strength from.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling angry at God, as long as you share that with Him. Get mad at Him, yell at Him, but PLEASE don’t turn away from Him. Cry out to Him. Actually cry if you need to. Sit with Him in the pain, the confusion and the doubt. Tell Him how you’re feeling if you can find the words, allow yourself to be silent if you can’t – He knows it all anyway. Know that when you’re empty, that’s when you’re the most able to be filled with His Spirit, love, mercy and grace.
“So please, even though it hurts, don’t be afraid of the pain. It’s the Divine Artist’s tool to carve in you more room for himself, to prepare the bridal chamber.” Katrina J. Zeno: Discovering the Feminine Genius
Something I’ve been challenged by this year is learning to worship in the pain. The times when I’m hurting are often the times when the last thing I want to do is hand over control to God, but I know they’re also the times when it’s the most important to do exactly that. For me that means learning the self-discipline it takes to choose to stand in worship when everything in me wants to run away. It means grabbing my Bible instead of curling up on my bed. It means admitting I’m broken so that Jesus can build me up again. It means letting Jesus into the wounds even when in the moment that seems to hurt them more.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
If we allow our suffering to separate us from God then the enemy has won. If we allow it to draw us closer to our Saviour then we ultimately reap the benefits of the victory which he’s already won. We sometimes suffer without an end or reward in sight, but we trust that it’s there. We trust that to suffer with Christ is far more of a blessing than we can possibly understand. Our faith is a choice: one which we must make again and again with every breath – the breaths that revive us and the breaths that strain us so much that they feel like they could be our last.
“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18
We’ve been given the promise of future glory. We can choose to claim it even when the lies try to drown it out. We can chose to live in it even in our current suffering. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel – Jesus: Light itself. When we realise that, any amount of suffering becomes a route to JOY.
So worship Him in the pain. Look at His cross and know with deepest certainty that He knows it, He feels it with you, and He will lead you out of it.