Coming face to face with our true selves isn’t pretty. We prefer the false constructs we’ve erected in our minds. We believe we’re actually doing all the things we know we should. Rarely is that the entire picture. Living unexamined lives, we become hardened.
The Lord desires honesty within our hearts, toward him and toward others, and so God helps us to see him more clearly, thus enabling us to see ourselves. He uses many tools to rekindle our growth.
Chronic illness is particularly effective. Relocation is another. The start of a new life far from home. The empty nest. The loss of friends or family. Divorce. Widowhood. Singleness. Infertility. Cancer. A death in the family. A broken relationship. A flood. A fire. A natural disaster. A catastrophe.
There we were, going about our lives, serving Jesus. Then this.
These hard times get our attention. They’re essential, for in reality we’re deeply flawed but usually unaware of the depths. The longer a chronic illness, a trying situation, or a catastrophe continues, the barer we are stripped clean until we find ourselves all alone with God, wrestling in the desert.The longer a #chronicillness, a trying situation, or a catastrophe continues, the barer we are stripped clean until we find ourselves all alone with God, wrestling in the desert. Click To Tweet
Invitations cease. Friends peel away, for their lives are already full, and our ongoing needs add yet another time pressure in their already fragile balancing act. Our families may or may not continue to accommodate, to listen, and to endure.
Not wanting to weary everyone we know, we quit talking about it and soon find ourselves like Elijah, hiding in a cave in the wilderness, repetitively rehearsing what has befallen us, and feeling sorry for ourselves. We feel as if we’re all alone.
But then, like a gentle whisper, we hear an entirely Other Person inviting us into intimate conversation. This Other can relate completely. Compared to his agony, ours is small. Yet our camaraderie with him in these trials has the potential to provide great comfort if we can only quit talking to ourselves, stuck within our own heads reiterating our hardships, and, instead, tell him. When we do, this becomes the story of our lives:
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him…I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me… I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:7-14 NIV, my italics).
How long do we mull over the rejection and loneliness before telling him about it? How long do we tell it to others who can do nothing to ease our suffering, and who are probably tired of hearing about it? How long do we pine for who we used to be? How long do we beat ourselves up over the flaws of character our suffering reveals?
Too long. Far, far too long.
Meanwhile, patiently, he waits.
In Jesus, we find real fellowship and intimacy. He too was despised and rejected, though in a vast and cosmic way. He too knows what it is to be misunderstood, for his own people rejected him, expecting a different kind of Messiah. In his deepest hour of need, his best friends fell fast asleep while he wept and sweat blood in the darkness. Because he has experienced the most excruciating of pains, in our pain, we can cry out to him.
He knows what we feel, and he longs for us to tell him about it. When we do, we find intimate companionship with the only One who truly understands. This One never tires of hearing about our circumstances or our feelings. Indeed, he’s the only One who truly wants us to tell him yet again.
He cleanses our wounds with his words. He whispers his love.
Jesus is standing there urging us to divulge our truth. His arms are open wide. Do you see him there? He is the balm for which your soul has been craving. Starting now, out loud, tell him everything you’re suffering and feeling in your loss. Run into his arms. Be blessed by the comfort that only he can provide.Jesus is the balm for which your soul has been craving. Starting now, out loud, tell him everything you're suffering and feeling in your loss. Run into his arms. Be blessed by the comfort that only he can provide. Click To Tweet