When Hard Truths Are Hard

The other day I had the opportunity to speak to a group of young adults on heartbreak. One of the things I talked about is when hard truths are hard. We know God is good. We know there is a purpose to every season in life. We know, we know, we know . . .  but we are still feeling an aching loneliness creep in as we reach for an extra piece of chocolate. This letter is for those days, the days when hard truths are hard.

Dear Suffering Sister,

I know because I have been there too and it is okay. I know that you know God is good. I know you know that God is righteous. I am sure that you have heard the verse which says that our God works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). I am sure you remember that God has a purpose for the pain and that in our weakness we can lean on His strength. If you talked to me and I had the chance to pipe in with my own advice, you have probably heard about discerning between truths and lies. I probably told you about recognizing the lies that you have been believing and combating them with truths. I am sure you have heard it all at this point. It is all good advice. Sometimes, though, it is hard. It is hard because while we are nodding vigorously at the truths we hear we can be secretly wondering why it still aches so bad. Maybe you are starting to feel a sense of guilt over the fact that all the good is not curing the ache in your heart. We wonder, "Is there a truth to combat that?"

I remember aching. I remember too much emotion to pray. Here is the one thing I wish someone would have told me: Jesus is weeping with you. He knows all the hard truths and He is still weeping with you. Minutes before He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:17-44) He asked Martha if she believed (John 11:25-26) and then He wept. Jesus knew they believed the truth. He knew he would perform a miracle and yet He still wept. It is that same Jesus that is walking through this mess with you.

Yes, the hard truths are true but they are clothed in the grace of a God who weeps with His hurting children.

Living With "What-if?"

He was angry and he stormed out of the house. Twenty minutes later, a police officer knocked on the front door with news that this angry teenager was not ever coming home.

She sat on the edge of her bed. Her whole body was shaking as tears streamed down her face blurring the flippant text, "we're over. sorry, this isn't working for me," and she had thought there might be a diamond ring by Christmas.

It's stories like these that leave us asking "what-if". "What-if he'd never been provoked to anger?" "What-if she'd never carried her heart on her sleeve?" "What-if he hadn't?" "What-if she hadn't?" "What-if they hadn't?"

I have my own what-if. What-ifs can be a funny thing. They will be quiet for the longest time and then, at the worst moment, they are floating in front of you like a frightening ghost on an already terrifyingly dark night. What-ifs seem to show up with the express purpose of haunting the human soul until it's lost its joy.

What if we fought what-if's with our own what-if's? Why don't we ask, "what-if this was the best thing that ever happened to me?" "What-if this tragedy is my door to triumph?" "What-if this heartbreak is my chance to learn true wholeness?" What if all our doubts are smoke and mirrors that blind us from seeing the true beauty behind the pain? I'd like to say that last one a bit more strongly. All our fears and doubts ARE smoke and mirrors that blind us from seeing the true beauty and purpose behind the pain. It's not a question of "what-if this is bad" or "what-if this is good". It's a question of "do I believe God reigns". Will I be so bold as to stop asking what-if and start boldly living truth?

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28

When Life Dissapoints

We had just gotten home from a funeral (the first of three for that week) and I was a mess. You couldn't tell I was a mess but I was. I closed my bedroom door, plopped down onto my bed and let the hot tears start falling. Something at the funeral had shaken me. A few minutes later, my mom knocked on the door to check on me (I guess I'm not so good at hiding my mess after all). As she sat there listening to me, I finally said what had been on my heart for so long but what I had failed to recognize.

"Life didn't turn out the way I wanted it to," I told her.

Life didn't and it hasn't turned out the way I wanted it to. I'm guessing that maybe it hasn't turned out how you wanted it to either. So, what do we do?

I have this friend who talks about recognizing the lies that are affecting us. I think one lie that I start believing in times like the one I just shared is that what I wanted is what was best. Here's the truth, "The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does." (Psalm 145:17). I have not been ripped off. I have not been cheated out of a good life. I am not living a less-than-plan. I am living a what's-good-and-right-for-me-plan. That is a truth I can cling to. That is a truth I can choose to take comfort in.
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