This week’s devotional may be a bit controversial. Especially if you’re a person of faith. Because we examine God in the midst of our pain. Not God causing our pain but in the midst of it. I can hear you now, “How is God in the midst of my pain? Why doesn’t He just end it or stop bad things from happening to me?” These and more questions like these have been the big question mark in the universe down through the ages. And no one has ever been able to answer it with much satisfaction. And in no way is that my attempt here.
On the contrary, this week is about coming to a place of peace with our past and our wounds and moving forward in our lives. Assigning blame is one way we try to do that, but trust a gal who’s done it, even when blame and accountability are established, there is still pain that has to be resolved and that’s what this devotional is all about; coming to a place of healing. Helping to examine what God has said in His word about pain is going to help us do just that.
Disclaimer: This devotional is not a substitute or replacement for regular therapy or use of mental health resources. If the content here causes triggers, please see your regular mental health professional. I am not a licensed counselor or therapist of any kind nor is this devotional an attempt to provide those services. The contents and suggestions in this devotional are results of my own personal experience with these issues and are not meant to be professional advice or therapy.
Psalm 34:18 (NKJV)
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
Finding myself in you is the most beautiful place on earth! God, I love, I adore, I worship your beauty, your heart of grace!
You have never forsaken me, you have never abandoned my heart even though I felt abandoned by all others, misunderstood, unaccepted. You have always known me, loved me, held me —loved me, kept me and never, never once thought of letting me go or leaving me to the cruelty of this world.
YOU are my God! Always my God, my Lord, Savior, and Redeemer of all my sorrows and pains. YOU have been the constant in my life through all things. Through every doubt, thought every fear and heartache.
No one could ever convince me you’re not real. I have seen you through the ages of my life. I have heard your voice and your promise in the darkest moments, calling me. Leading me through the maze of uncertainty, the dark night of my soul where all my hopes felt utterly gone. Oh, the pain of those moments of the deepest regrets of my heart.
You made me steadfast and immovable, unshakable in the most terrifying times.
Oh God, you are true + strong + unbreakable + unswerving and unrelenting in your pursuit of my heart and life. THANK YOU!
I somehow knew from the beginning, you wanted to make me yours! You always wanted me! Always calling me. Always showing me YOU, your love, your hand, your desire to find me and have me.
Oh God, there is nothing and no one who compare to you! NO one! No love or possession that I could have that could measure to the treasure you are!!!
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
The first thing we must establish if we’re going to find God in our pain is that the world is a broken place. Period. The fall of Adam opened the door to sin, death, and destruction. The Bible says that the devil, the one who was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44) is the prince of the power of the air that works in the sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2). We ALL are part of that group before we come to understand what Jesus Christ did on the cross to deliver us from sin.
If you’ve been wounded, abused, traumatized by another human being or a situation where humans who were under the influence of the evil one committed sin against you, then you know this to be true. At any given time, any of us can fall prey to the desire to hurt others because we’ve been hurt or wounded, but the difference we need to find is that if we turn to God in our pain, it would have a different outcome for our world.
I want to address here, the condemnation that many of us have come under when dealing with pain that, I’m grieved to say, has come through the Body that God has put on the earth to heal. It’s from a blog that I posted and I want to share it now:
“Let me feel you in this broken place. Let me feel Your breath upon my face. ‘Cuz everything I’ve trusted in, has been such a waste, if I don’t see you in this broken place.”
I recalled today, when I ministered this song in a conference, once, and as the words came out of my mouth, I could feel the resistance in the atmosphere. We are so afraid to talk about our pain. We’re afraid to admit that we have pain and that God knows about it and may very well be right in the midst of it.
As I continued playing, I sang the song with all my heart and all my soul because it was a place where I was in my life and I couldn’t deny the reality of it. I couldn’t get up on a stage in front of a crowd who was there to hear from God and not speak the truth of who God was in my life and in my heart at that moment. I couldn’t be plastic. I couldn’t be fake. I had to disclose this place in my life where I felt that if I couldn’t find God here in this place of brokenness & pain then He’s not anywhere. If He’s not in my tragedy, in my trauma and there to hold me and lift me out, then He’s not anywhere. Then He’s not God.
The psalmist said “even if I make my bed in hell, God, you are there. Where can I go from your spirit, where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139: 8) If God is not there in our pain then He is cruelest of all.
Many of us, because our pain has been met with condemnation and shame, believe that God is not interested in our pain or that He expects us to just get over it. This, then, becomes the doctrine about our pain. I heard Melissa Helser , a worship leader with Bethel Church, say one time, that we can’t take our personal experience and make a doctrine out of it but I fear that we’ve done that many, many times in the church. This is a mistake. My journey with God is personal and corporate at the same time. I have a life. A history. A heart. And the journey that I’ve walked in my life is unique to me and God is LORD of it.
We have condemned, many times, people dealing with pain and heartache and their past and memories and all these kinds of things. We’ve condemn psychology, we’ve condemned the practice of counseling, we’ve condemned all kinds of things that people have reached out to in trying to bring some kind of peace to the pain they’ve experienced in life. But how many of us actually enter into the pain of others? Many people in church will never, ever look into those intimate places of our lives, but there is One who does and that is God himself.
He assured me that He was safe and that it was safe to acknowledge the pain of my past and how it affected not only my life but the life of my family and every life that I had ever come in contact with. I was running from that reality for a long time because of shame, but God, in His mercy brought me to a place where I had to look at it. Face it. Confront it. Acknowledge the impact that it had on my life, which was a very painful place because I had hurt others in the process. And God, in His wonderful, gentle, patient way held me and let me fall apart. It was a beautiful thing. It was a painful thing. It was a healing thing.
I share these things, not because I want you to make my experience a doctrine of your life, but because I want you to see this as a testimony to the goodness and kindness of God and perhaps it may help you in your times of pain and grief.
We bring much bondage to people in condemning them for being human beings. In condemning them for having feelings, for having hurts, and for responding to hurt with tears and dysfunction. But without Christ’s redemptive power, this is our only response, our natural response.
It takes the power of the Word of God to change the impact of these things on our souls. We human beings are very fragile creatures which God created in His own image. To deny a soul the grief and painful change and process necessary for healing, is very unnatural and very dangerous, in my opinion.
He is in the midst of our sorrow and suffering with outstretched, very strong, yet tender arms. And He doesn’t condemn us for being there, instead He speaks over us and quiets us with His love (Zephaniah 3:17). He’s like a nursing mother (Isaiah 49:15-17). He is close to the broken hearted (Psalm 34:18).
Isaiah 57:15“For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”Psalm 139 assures us that he knows us, sees us and our way is not hidden from His sight. Many people read that in a condemning way, like “uh-oh, He sees you, you better be good”. But I read that totally different. I am not hidden from His sight. His eyes are ever upon my way and I need not fear. Nothing can ever come into my life or attack my heart that He’s not well aware of and in the midst of and well able to uphold me within it!When all my questions meet with utter silence in the midst of pain and I can’t understand, He meets me. He sits with me. He listens. He aches with me. Oh what comfort to know that He is intimately acquainted with all my weaknesses. God is not as condemning as men, nor is He as harsh and uncaring. It’s enough to know He loves us, even if that’s all we know of Him. It’s enough.
If you’ve been doing the devotional for any length of time, you know most of our action steps involve surrender. Now, who even knows what that looks like, but we sure know it when we feel it! Most of our trauma and pain comes from being told or shown that our feelings are invalid or wrong and so we deny them or act them out in self-destructive ways. But, here, we’re going to learn to honor where we’ve been and the person (us) who lived through the pain and thus breaking open the future of our lives. We have to learn not to deny the past but to integrate it into the totality of who we are and of our life experience.
If we don’t, then we spend our lives rejecting the part of us who walked through the trauma without allowing that person access to the rest of who we are! II’ve done that all my life. When I realized that God loved that little girl who was abused or the young mom who acted out of her pain and hurt her family and then I received her myself like God receives her, massive change and healing came! Below are some steps you can take to continue your healing and embrace your life again!
(1) STOP DENYING THE IMPACT OF YOUR PAIN
Stop allowing the old voices of “you don’t matter”, “suck it up” and “who cares” to rule your heart and life. Begin to show love to the part of you that is hurting instead of pouring out disdain on yourself, as someone may have treated you when the original wound took place. God is not mad at you. God is not your parent or spouse or teacher or coach. HE IS YOUR LOVING FATHER and he cares deeply about you!
(2) FORGIVE THOSE WHO HURT YOU
When we realize that those who hurt us are just as broken as we are, then we can extend grace to them. When we understand the love of Jesus on the cross, pouring His life out for the ungodly (Romans 5:6) then we, too, can forgive as Christ forgave because we are the ungodly too. As long as we continue to assign blame to those who hurt us instead of taking responsibility to heal and move our lives forward, then we’ll stay stuck in our pain. It’s not easy, it requires surrender, but the Holy Spirit is our Helper and will give us the power to forgive and forgive from our heart!
(3) DREAM AGAIN
When we’ve walked through a process of healing we can become consumed in it and forget that God has a wonderful life planned out for us. We have to start looking up and dreaming again. Sorrow can make our heart stoop, but Jesus has promised us life and life abundantly. It’s hard to imagine if your life and experiences have been nothing but tragic, OR we can see tragedy in everything instead of beauty when we’ve experienced trauma. It’s our way of insulated ourselves against disappointment and more pain. But, trust me, it also closes us off from freedom, joy and the love our hearts crave in relationship with others.
Lastly, risk is risky!!! I know, corny, but true. We will hardly come into the desires of our heart unless we risk and try again. To trust, to love, to dream and to live. Small steps will still get us to our destination. It may take a little longer but we will arrive. Our destination is joy, hope and loving ourselves and others the way Jesus loved us and living a life of restoration and extending healing to others.
Luke 4:18 NKJV
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
© Crisie Hutchings/ GrannyRocksMusic/ THE WORSHIP LIFE/ Beautiful You Project
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.