I’ve been enjoying this beautiful season, especially the music and the quiet peace. But this season is painful for some. It isn’t all lights and presents and magic. This year is different, isn’t it? Our economy has changed things for many. I’ve been doing my share of grieving for broken marriages and families close to my heart. There are people tonight who are lonely, confused, hurting and hopeless. My heart is literally breaking with sorrow for them. There doesn’t seem to be a human fix available … I have to go where I’ve always found comfort … to God’s Word, the Bible.
A psalm of David.
1 O LORD, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
2 Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.
4 So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
5 I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
6 I spread out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
7 Answer me quickly, O LORD;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, O LORD,
for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.
11 For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.
A few things I’ve learned from being in pain:
~ isolation keeps us in our pain and from moving forward
When I avoided contact with others, I was the loser. I was keeping myself from moving past the pain. Yes, there is risk in revealing shame and imperfection. But we rarely experience growth outside of “community.”
~ accountability (liable to being called to account; answerable)
Accountability is key to growth. Having trusted, wise people in our lives to help us stay on the path leads to health. We must be willing to be open and honest with at least one other person, and be willing to hear the truth about ourselves. We can’t see ourselves as others see us; we have blind spots. We have to get outside our own thoughts and opinions and pain.
~ woman in the mirror
We have to be willing to take an honest look at ourselves, ugliness and all. We can’t change anyone else, but we can allow God to change us. Most of the time it’s a painful process. When we finally get down to the underlying issues of our pain, we then have to begin the process of change.
God is more concerned with our character than our comfort. We spend too much energy on making sure we are always comfortable; we think there is something wrong if we experience discomfort. God’s purpose for our lives isn’t that we’re happy, but that we are godly. Happiness is solely dependent on ever-changing outside circumstances. Our godliness comes from God … from the inside. How does a godly woman think and behave? Tantrums? Blame? Manipulation? Unreasonable expectations? Retaliation? Denial? Co-dependency? Silence? Taking and not giving?
~ freedom is on the other side of the door
The most important thing I learned through pain is that freedom is just on the other side of the door. But I have to be willing to walk through the door to get to it. As long as I continue to fight God’s best for me instead of yield to it, I will remain on the wrong side of the door. The pain will continue to intensify and it will become “familiar.” And it’s easier to stay in the familiar mode than do the hard work to move past it. I often say “change will only happen when the pain gets greater than the fear.”
9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:9-11
Jesus loves us. He came into time and space as a baby to intersect with our lives. His love transcends any circumstance, any condition, any economy, any broken relationship. He came to give life, light and hope. Take hold of it.