Seeing Pain through Hope Filled Eyes
Now that I’m back to blogging, I have a lot to catch you all up on. Although I have described, more or less, the events I have been through over the past several months in my previous entry, there are so many thoughts and ideas and lessons learned that I’d like to explore through my writing. Consequently, I expect that many of my blog posts in the days and months to come may touch on subjects like loss, grief, pain and suffering. This isn’t because I’m trying to be a Debbie downer and it’s not because I’m still wallowing in depression. It’s because it’s what I’ve been through recently. The pain and the emotions are still fresh enough that they can be written about in detail. And while my experience hasn’t ruined me, it has shaped me and molded me. I am still in process and I am eager to share the valuable insights that God teaches me along the way.
Grief and loss have been major players in my story this past year. As a matter of fact, they tried to take me out of my story. They led me to a place where I felt like I lost myself. There were days I woke up and I didn’t feel real. I floated from place to place feeling very much detached from my surroundings, as if a thick fog that I couldn’t shake had settled over me.
There have been lots of phases and steps on the road to healing, but one thing that has helped me tremendously is fixing my eyes on a greater hope than I can see. Allow me to explain. Prior to my brother’s death, no one that close to me had ever died. My grandparents all passed away, but I wasn’t close to them like I was to my brother. The assurance that my brother is in heaven made heaven become alive to me in a new way. The idea that my separation from him is more like a pause and is not an end to our relationship eased my sorrow. And I seriously look forward to seeing him once again…and I will. I know that.
But it doesn’t stop there. My brokenness isn’t just over death. The reasons for my brokenness are varied and complex. I’m broken over addiction. I’m broken that it takes brothers and sons away. I am enraged at the way it shatters relationships and homes. I can’t stand the way it can take a precious loved one and completely transform them before your eyes, into a person you can barely recognize anymore. I’m broken over abuse and injustice. I’m broken over misunderstandings, discord and strife that find their way into friendships, families, and the body of Christ wreaking havoc and hurting people. I’m broken over the ways the enemy succeeds at driving a wedge between people. I’m broken that you can’t always hold on to those that you love and that despite your best efforts to keep them, people for whatever reason sometimes move on and drift away.
The reasons for your brokenness may be the same or different. Maybe your brokenness stems from a divorce. Maybe your brokenness stems from a wayward child. Maybe it’s the loss of a parent. Maybe it came from a painful transition in location, relationship or job. Whatever it is, brokenness is something we all must contend with.
This is what I’ve learned. The blade of brokenness lacerates us so deeply, because we weren’t made for it. It exists because we live in a fallen world. But at our core, we were designed for a perfect place. This world isn’t it. That brokenness we experience serves as a reminder that this place really is only our temporary home. In Revelation 21:3-5, God speaks of heaven:
“Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are now gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”
Allow the impact of those words to sink in. If you have surrendered your life to Jesus, you have this to look forward to…guaranteed! Can you picture it? Imagine what it would be like to receive a tangible embrace from your heavenly daddy. Imagine what it would be like to look into his eyes and see pools of love, for you! Imagine a place where the pain you accumulated in this life will only be a distant memory. No death. No pain. No sadness. No addiction. No bondage. No offense. No misunderstandings. No division. A place where we will live totally unified with God and with each other. This is not wishful thinking. It’s reality.
Sometimes when I talk about this, my friends and relatives look at me like I’m morbid. They misunderstand and think that I’m merely looking for an escape from life here. I fully believe that we are to embrace life here on earth. I believe that God wants us to experience as much of His abundant life on this planet as we possibly can. Although I have my rough seasons, I enjoy life and its many blessings. I believe and contend for victory in every facet of my life to be made manifest here, in the present. But I do think at times, we become so focused on the here and now, so focused on what we can see with natural eyes that we lose sight of the fact that there are eternal realities that are more real than anything we can perceive with earthly senses. Everything we can see, hear and touch is very temporary. It is the things that we cannot see that go on forever.
It finally, finally, finally hit me that because of what Christ has done, I actually do get the victory no matter what. I pray for and contend for things like victory, freedom, healing, deliverance, reconciliation and restoration here on earth, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that even if I don’t see those things here, I will there. I love what Bill Johnson says in his book Is God Really Good? He writes, “The loss is in the middle of the story. The end is He redeems it and somehow makes what was meant to destroy us establish and empower us instead.”
Death cannot separate me from my beloved Savior and it can’t separate me from my brothers and sisters in Christ. Maybe temporarily but not where it counts. I look forward to a great reunion with all the brothers and sisters in the faith that I have been separated from, whether it be by death, breach of relationship or simply moving away or drifting apart. It will be incredible to be reunited with every believer who has ever offered me their friendship or had a hand in shaping me to become the woman I am. And when I look at things in this light, temporary losses and separations and pain don’t seem quite as bad, because after all, it’s just temporary. Remember, in eternity, which goes on foreverrrrr, you won’t know anything but victory.
I’d like to end this post with the words found in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.