Have you ever found yourself in a place where you are hurting so badly you can't even stand? When the emotional pain you are feeling is so deep and intense you find it hard to even breathe? When the tears flow from your eyes so vigorously, regularly and endlessly that you wonder if they'll ever cease? When you find yourself doubled over, your gut wrenching uncontrollably, crying out to God and begging him to make the pain go away? When you feel as though you'd rather have your life here on earth be over with so that you could get on with spending eternity in heaven instead of living through one more day with the pain you're feeling?
Maybe you've been there in the past. Maybe you're there now. Maybe you're about to go through an experience such as this in the future. If you are there now, my heart goes out to you, and it's my hope that the words I'm about to write will bring you some comfort in your difficult time.
If it helps you at all, I will begin by saying that I experienced this very recently, and now that the dust has settled and the smoke has cleared, I can see the lessons that God was showing me through the pain. They were very difficult lessons that needed to be learned, and the only way I could've learned them was to be brought to my knees, seeking the Lord desperately. Did I enjoy the pain? Not in the least. Did it make me question everything? Absolutely. Did it make me wonder at times if God was even there? Yes.
Here's what I learned through this experience: God's number one priority for our lives is that we seek him above all things, that we love him with all of our hearts, all of our minds, and all of our strength. That we put nothing, and nobody, before him.
That may sound cold, uncaring and legalistic - especially in the midst of our profoundly deep pain, when all we want is for that pain to go away - but it's not. In fact, it's the exact opposite. You see, the Lord knows that the most beautiful life we can ever experience begins with our seeking him first, above all things.
People love to quote Jeremiah 29:11 to friends who are suffering.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
While these words are absolutely true, and while they can definitely encourage those who are hurting, people usually don't mention the context within which those words were written. The Lord had just exiled the people of Israel to Babylon. They had lost everything - their homes, their loved ones, and their possessions. Why did he bring this upon them? Because their hearts had turned from him. They had placed their hope and their confidence in the blessings that God had given them as opposed to putting their hope in their God. They had worshipped many idols. They had grown to love the gifts more than the Giver. The Lord was not their "first love."
This might not be the case in your life, but it was the case in mine. Regardless of what may have been true to your experience, the bottom line is this: Your relationship with the Lord is his number one priority, and if he has allowed intense emotional pain to enter your life, it is being used by him in an effort to draw you deeper into that relationship. It is being used to help you long for his presence. It is being used to deepen your knowledge of him, and to deepen your love for him. It is the basis behind Jesus' first words on the Sermon on the Mount.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
There is nothing on earth that will drive us to a place of mourning or poorness of spirit more than to experience having our hearts broken by God. When God breaks our hearts, he does so thoroughly and completely. If in the midst of this excruciating pain we seek him with all of our hearts, then end result will always be one of repentance, followed by restoration, followed by a far greater understanding of his love for us as well as the grace he offers us. You see, he does not do this to be cruel or sadistic. He's not a cold, uncaring God just waiting for us to screw up so he can drop the hammer on us. He's a loving, gracious, kind, life-giving, caring God who wants us to fully experience the limitless blessings he wants to bestow upon us.
It is only when we feel the full weight of our own sinfulness that we can fully appreciate the grace of God, and the only way we can hope to experience his grace and restoration is by first repenting of the sins that have caused distance between he and us. There are times in all of our lives when we begin to place our hope in people, places, or things. God always wants us to find all of our hope in him alone. Sometimes he will remove the very things we believed were the most precious to us, or which have given us our greatest sense of security, because it is the only way we will reach the place where our relationship with him and love for him becomes the most precious thing to us. If we have placed our hope, faith, or security in anything or anyone other than him, we have sinned.
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." - Matthew 6:33
If God is breaking your heart, please, draw near to him with all of your heart, with all of your mind, and with all of your strength. Trust him through the pain, even if it makes no sense to you right now. He will show you things you've never seen before. He will speak to you in truth, in love, and in words of lovingkindness. And please hold on to this hope: The life he is leading you into through this pain is far more beautiful than any life you could ever hope to experience.