Has your story felt too hard? Has your hope been stretched too thin?
Have you begun to think that there’s no way you can find hope again?
Give space for God to work.
If you are a Christian, belonging to God through Jesus Christ and following Him, then you can be sure that God has an amazing, astounding plan to bless you in the end.
Sometimes, this life is so tough. Sometimes the road takes you into far darker places than you ever thought you’d go. Sometimes, following Jesus and sharing Him is the very reason it gets so hard.
But that’s never the end of the story.
He can restore in wonderful ways. Don’t underestimate what He can do! The deepest, darkest places of your story, the places where you felt forsaken by Him and stretched beyond what you could bear, can become places where His light shines the brightest… if you let Him in.
Offer yourself fully to Him, scars and all, and let Him work. Let Him shine His healing love into your darkest places, filling you with new peace and freedom.
When things are hard, and have been hard for a long time, it’s easy to draw the conclusion that God’s heart is not kind: that somehow He is being cruel, or maybe overlooking your suffering, because He doesn’t really care. But that is never, ever our Father’s heart. He is always plotting something good for those who are trusting in Christ. And, more than that, He is hurting with you. It hurts Him even more than it hurts you.
And I think maybe it hurts His heart even more when your heart doubts His love.
‘You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?’
God has a bottle in which He holds all of your tears. That’s how much you mean to Him. He has seen your suffering, and He knows what He has been through. He does not waste anything.
And your story is not over yet.
Oh, how God wants to comfort you with His love!
‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.’
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Ever wanted someone to hold you close as you cry?
‘As one whom his mother comforts,
So I will comfort you;
And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.’
And don’t you believe that any tear will ever be missed. He is waiting to wipe every one dry, not just comforting you now, but soothing indescribably with His tender love in eternity… when He will put everything right.
‘And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”‘
In the Old Testament, we see how God’s people, Israel, suffered in their exile. This was their own fault. It was punishment for their idolatry and rebellion. They had disobeyed God, and He had warned them that judgement would come. But, even so, God bled with them. We see His heart in Lamentations, as Jeremiah pours out God’s heart of grief for His people’s suffering. And then we see His tender, wholehearted yearning to do His people good. He cannot wait to restore! He even tells them about it in advance, before the suffering has even properly begun, because He is so keen for them to have hope, and not to give up in despair. He is so good that He will not spare the good that must be done through allowing the suffering, but He is longing for the time when He can bless them and do them good. In fact, He says that He will delight in doing them good! He is our Father, too, and surely He has this heart for us, too.
The darkest places in your life can become places of double honour, and double joy, in God’s amazing ways of turning brokenness in beauty. Offer them up to Him, and for ask His help. He can bring joy into the hurting places, peace into the pain and even double joy!
Look at what He said to His Old Testament people in Isaiah:
“Instead of your shame you shall have double honor,
And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.
Therefore in their land they shall possess double;
Everlasting joy shall be theirs.” Isaiah 61:7
He can transform the wilderness and the waste places in your life. He can make them like Eden: like that first, tear-free garden of the Lord, when all was pure and good. He can fill the dark places with gladness and joy. He can replace the tears with songs of hope.
‘For the Lord will comfort Zion,
He will comfort all her waste places;
He will make her wilderness like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the Lord;
Joy and gladness will be found in it,
Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.’
Freedom begins when we surrender: when we let go of our plans, our ideas and our holding onto things, and we let God in, turn things over to Him and let Him be in charge.
And, yes, there is a cost. Sometimes God cuts deep into our hearts; takes things from our clinging fingers; cuts deep like a wise Surgeon; take us deeper than we really want to go. But it’s always for a good reason. It’s always to do something good. And the greatest good of all is knowing God Himself.
Sometimes we are clinging too tightly to other things, when God wants to give us Himself.
‘For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.’
We can’t truly know the joy until we let go of what we are clinging to, surrender and let Him be All in all.
That’s when the healing begins.
It may take time. It may take tears. Sometimes it can feel like a long, hard process. Sometimes it gets harder before it gets better. Sometimes God feels far away, and the process is deep and painful. But our Lord is thorough in His love and His healing because He really wants us to be free. He really wants us to have joy! And, if we do things His way, surrendering to Him, seeking His kingdom first and choosing to pour out our lives for others, sowing through our tears, no matter how had it feels, there will be a day when we know joy that we never had imagined.
‘When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing.
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
And we are glad.
Bring back our captivity, O Lord,
As the streams in the South.
Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.’
Sometimes we see it in this life. Sometimes there is God’s afterwards, where Heaven breaks in with amazing provision, and we stand stunned at what God has done. Sometimes we must wait for eternity before the tears are wiped away. But we can be sure that He will not fail us, and He will never give us more than we can bear. His plans are good beyond our wildest dreams: so good that we couldn’t begin to imagine what they will be!
‘But as it is written:“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”’ 1 Corinthians 2:9b
‘For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him.’
Wait for Him, and He will work for you. Oh, He will work for you!
Don’t ever underestimate Him.
Oh, and, by the way, the greatest good is knowing Him. Sometimes, the sweetest places are the darkest, because it’s where we meet Him. When you have nowhere else to go, you can find Him. Jesus is always Enough.
Seek Him in your sorrow. Bring it to Him. Turn towards Him, not away from Him, let go of what you are clinging to and let Him be God. He will amaze you by what He does.
So don’t let your enemy take your hope.
Look up to your Lord, surrender, and He will blow your mind!
‘Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.’
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.