This world; this earthly life can lead to so much joy and happiness. Yet with it there is so much in this world to be afraid of – so much pain, loss, brokenness. It is easy to focus on the bad or lose ourselves in our worry. It is easy to push away our loved ones so we do not have to cope with the idea of losing that which we love the most.
But it is guaranteed that we will deal with pain and loss in our human time on earth. God promised victory in the end; but God did not promise an easy life!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
We have different seasons in our lives – times where all is right with the world, and times when we face such intense struggle that we don’t know how we can make it one more day. But God’s presence never fails – He walks through each season with us. I seem to be going through a very happy season of my life. My husband, my kids, my family, my faith community – though we face small challenges, everything seems to be in a time of peace and stability.
Yet even in this happy season, my human mind will dig itself into a pit of despair when I allow my mind to worry – specifically to consider how I would cope with the loss of the people I love the most.
As a mom of young children, the idea of losing my children is where my deepest pain and anxiety lies. My arms ache to hold them when I am gone overnight, or after a long day when I am away at work. The thought of losing one of them truly seems like too much pain to bear. And then I feel guilty for dwelling and fearing something that hasn’t happened when there are many parents out there now who do – somehow – grieve the loss of a child. My heart breaks for them, and I can’t even begin to understand their struggles. I feel guilty that I can hug my kids at night and they can’t.
I’ve mentioned before that Tenth Avenue North is one of my favorite Christian groups. They have a song on their Struggle album called “Don’t Stop the Madness” where they speak of the idea that our connection to and reliance on God in our moments of pain bring us that much closer to Him: Don’t stop the pain surrounding me; don’t be afraid to break my heart and bring me down to my knees! This song is hard for me to listen to. I totally get the message, but I am afraid to say the words – afraid to pray these words to my God! I don’t really want to be broken – I am afraid of loss and heartbreak!
A friend from church, a gentleman maybe twice my age, commented recently about a similar idea. His life had been blessed to be free from major struggle and he wondered when or what that struggle would be. And he found it hard to understand these intense struggles that others face. He was expressing many of the same thoughts I have, and that really stuck with me. I do not want to spend my life wondering when the struggles will come. That does not allow me to live out fully the ministry of God.
I let my fear and the anxiety of the unknown get in the way of simply being present with God and for others. I cannot plan how this life will go for me; which struggles I will face when and how badly they will hurt. In order to truly hear God’s voice, I must release the worry and anxiety I carry to God, and let God free me from the fear that lies deep within.
Through every hug and moment of laughter with my children, and every deep, internal cry of pain in those moments of intense grief and loss which are inevitable in this world, I must trust knowing God will be right beside me every step of the way.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10