I silently grieve daily, with a burden only my closest family members know about. It is an inexpressible profound pain, forever lingering just below the surface.
It is my weakest area. Satan knows this. When I’m tired or ill he whispers reminders to my soul, catching me off guard and throwing me into an aching, agonizing abyss of mourning again, tearing another piece of my heart. On one occasion it was so emotionally painful it directly caused an artery in my physical heart to collapse (an artery that was replaced by surgery a few months earlier).
One day I may be able to share my burden’s end and rejoice. For now, given that others are involved, it would be wrong to explain publicly.
The only relief I have is to immerse myself in and meditate on God’s Word. The Psalms are particularly soothing.
Much of what I write on this blog as encouragement is fruit that began as a seed of Bible study or devotional reading in an attempt to pull myself out of this heartrending abyss. That alone is cause to thank God for the burden, as it leads me to call out to Him.
Isaiah says, “Be comforted!” God’s comfort does not weaken but strengthens and empowers:
In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness
and confidence shall be your strength. (Isa 30:15)
Another way I am comforted is through books. I just started reading a The Promise: How God Works All Things Together for Good, by Robert J. Morgan, as part of my continuing battle.
Morgan takes one simple passage of Scripture, Romans 8:28, and shares stories of hope, solidifying the verse. Each chapter offers multiple and engagingly written real-life accounts of people who faced circumstances so unthinkable that no one believed they could be transformed into good. And by the story’s end, God indeed brought about such benefit, personal growth and spiritual insight, that the participants thanked Him for the trial. It’s been a tremendous blessing to me.
I’m writing these words shortly after returning from the grave side of the little boy named Samuel. Unborn child who mysteriously died in the womb days before delivery. I’ve known the extended family for many years. They joined my church. Not long after I became pastor, nearly 30 years ago. Samuel’s mother had expected to be nursing him in her arms today, but instead she buried him in the cold earth. A tiny coffin replaced the crib.
As we walked among the graves back to our cars, I reached for her hand, and fighting back tears, she said to me, “I know that good will come from this, somehow, someway.” God works all things together for good, and I’m just holding on to that promise.
Driving home, I mulled over those words. Everything happens for a reason. Good will come from this. It will work out in the end.
No, clichés are not helpful. Instead, these are soul-bracing realities that flow from a central truth of Scripture stated in Romans 8:2:
It is arguably the most powerful promise in the Bible. Clichés and platitudes are temporary bandages, but Romans 8:28 gives us complete and ultimate healing to both our souls and their situations.
Human courage and the internal fortitude take us only so far without a stronger wind to our back. The French philosopher Voltaire once defined optimism as “mania of maintaining that everything is well. When we are wretched.”
Some people are blessed with an upbeat personality that allows them to view life through rose-colored glasses and “make the most of all that comes in the least of all that goes,” as philosopher Sarah Teasdale once put it. But even sunny- so people can’t ward off all the shadows, not for long, certainly not forever, not without a sure word from an omnipotent God.
Sooner or later, even the upbeat soul gets beat up by life.
We need a higher power, a deeper strength, a wider mercy, and a mightier word. We need a promise so broad in its scope that nothing is excluded and so infallible in its application that on its sheer word alone we are consoled, energized,vitalized, and enervated during life’s roughest moments.
We need a heartening word during life’s smaller battles, too, for we have our share of both. Unbalanced checkbooks. Speeding tickets. Cancer scares. High blood pressure. Car payments. Car wrecks. Gas prices. Foreclosures. Prodigal children. The death of a pet. Chronic pain. Stubborn addiction. Pharmacy bills. Broken arms. Broken marriages. Broken hearts. Broken heirlooms.
The problems come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of intensity. Some are mind-numbing and earthshaking. Others are two bit trifles; yet sometimes the smaller problems upset us more than the larger ones. I’ve had my shares of ups and downs in life; they aren’t over yet.
As long as we’re breathing air, we’re going to have good days and bad ones.
And sometimes the bad ones are very bad. I know what it’s like to be jolted awake at 2 a.m. with news you’ve never wanted to hear. I know what it’s like to face debilitating family illness and to encounter a string of disappointments. I’ve struggled with cycles of despondency and seasons of anguish. And like you, I felt the sadness of standing by freshly dug graves.
Thankfully, I can say that in my experience thus far, the bad days have been exceptions rather than the rules. But that’s not always the case for everyone. Some people face a lifetime of adversity, and for those of us, the problems grow harder as we grow older.
During such times, were swimmers drawn toward open water by powerful undertow’s of doubt. We brood. We fume. We feel sorry for ourselves as we battle waves of discouragement. We grieve and weep, and sometimes feel were drowning.
But consider this: what if you knew it would all turn out well, what ever you are facing? what if Romans 8:28 really were more than a cliché? What if it was a certainty, a Spirit-certified life preserver, and unsinkable objective truth, infinitely buoyant, able to keep your head above water. Even when your ship is going down?
What if it really worked? What if it always worked? What if there were no problems beyond its reach?
Would that make a difference to you? If you really believed it, would it shore up your spirits? Brace up your heart, gird up your strength? Beef up your attitude? Put a bounce in your step? Put the sparkle back into your eyes?
Romans 8:28 is an all-inclusive, all-powerful and always available. It is as omnipotent as the God who signed and sealed it. It’s as loving as the Savior who died to unleash it. It can do anything God can do. It can touch any heart and redeem any problem. It isn’t a mere platitude, but a divine promise. It isn’t a goal, but a guarantee. It isn’t wishful thinking but a shaft of almighty providence that lands squarely in our pathway each day and every moment.
The Lord moved heaven and earth to keep this promise. He puts his eye to the microscope of the providential oversight and scans the smallest details of our lives, working them into a tapestry of blessing, making sure the goodness and mercy follow with all the days. He turns problems inside out, transforming bad things to blessings…
What a mighty God we serve!
The Promise: How God Works All Things Together for Good is available on the Kindle (download a portion free) or in paperback.
Image Credit: One Year Bible Blog