Honestly, the past couple of weeks have been kinda miserable. It’s just felt like loss after loss, and hard thing after hard thing. It’s exhausting. Being a human is so draining sometimes, isn’t it?
We’ve all been there. Tired and heartbroken and bored of feeling that way for so long. We’re on the track toward hopelessness. Almost there, but not there yet. See, hard times aren’t enough to make us hopeless by themselves. They have to be coupled with something.
A sudden onslaught of thoughts that erupt into our heads and ring loudly until we have no choice but to consider them true. Lots of internal whispers that go something like this: “I will always feel this way,” or “I will never be happy again.” Or the worst of them: “God has abandoned me.” And there you have it, complete and utter hopelessness. The fire in you is extinguished. Nothing matters. Why are you even here?
That sucks right? Nobody wants that. All of us know that this can’t be what life is supposed to be like. So how do we fix it?
We all have a sort of game plan for when we wanna get rid of that overwhelming sense of bleh. Things that make us feel safe and nostalgic and take us back to a happier place. Our “comfort” things. My go-to? Watching Star Wars (in release order, duh), listening to the best album my dad ever showed me (Ten by Pearl Jam), reading my mom’s Facebook posts, and (this is a new one) eating a #17 from KFC.
Foolproof plan for overcoming heartbreak. So, we’re done here then? Not quite. The issue is that this only solves half the problem. Remember, hopelessness is that feeling of dread PLUS lies. If we make ourselves feel better, but we don’t take the time to correct all the nasty, fictitious things we let marinate in our puny human brains, it is a complete guarantee that we’ll end up hopeless again. Because you don’t have to be convinced of anything now, you just have to get sad. The lies have already gotten comfortable up there in your skull with all the cob webs.
This is what I’m learning the hard way. Why am I so susceptible to dread and hopelessness? I’ve got decade-old lies up in there. Things I don’t even realize are wrong. Subconscious beliefs that rule my emotions.
I’d like to address the two biggest lies I was believing about God and the truths I replaced them with.
Lie #1: God Doesn’t Know What’s Best for Me
I’m confident most of us probably believe this one. If this tricky little untruth wasn’t floating around in our brain stew, we would literally never sin. Cause that’s what sin comes down to – disagreement with God about what’s best for us.
So it’s definitely in there. And it shows up all the time, especially when we’re not doing so hot. When I don’t like how things are going in my life (particularly when my troubles are stupid, unfair, and definitely never my fault) I immediately assume God doesn’t know what’s right. That I understand what needs to happen better than He does.
Or in other words, that God is wrong.
Sometimes when I read the Bible and the authors really key in on one specific person, I forget that God was still concerned with everything else going on in the world. That’s how He’s been forever. He didn’t just suddenly start caring about everybody the moment He was in Mary’s womb. He’s always cared and He’s always been orchestrating things. Why do I bring this up? I want it to be clear that God has a lot of experience. He has a long track record of never messing up. If He could’ve been wrong by now, it would’ve happened when He was dealing with much bigger, more complex human issues like the fall of Rome or World War II.
When I remember I’m not the main character in the story of human existence, it’s easier to believe this. I am more important to God than I’ll ever know, but there’s no way my life – out of all the lives that have ever been lived – is where the God of forever’s gonna screw things up. These words of David have helped silence this lie: “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16). God knows everything, and He’s got the most insane I.Q. of all time. He’s smarter than us. He knows what’s happening and why. Don’t believe the lie that God’s plan is not well thought-out.
Lie #2: God Is Not Being Loyal to Me
This sounds pretty similar to the first one, but it’s slightly different. The first lie denies that God does what’s best. This one denies that God does what’s best for me. And this lie has really been getting to me lately. I have made the mistake of believing that God isn’t for me anymore, that He doesn’t care about my pain, and that He is a selfish God who looks at me more like an experiment than a son.
I found out that the Bible has a lot to say about this kind of thing. For example, “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me” (Psalm 138:8a). God will perfect the things that have to do with me, or in New Testament language, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6).
He finishes what He starts with undying loyalty (so much so that He literally died). He refuses to stop being good to His children. Nothing can break His gaze from you. He is more invested in your life than you ever will be.
How then are we meant to interpret suffering? I look at it this way: 1) God lets things hurt us 2) but He doesn’t let them win. God’s desire is for us to know Him, and to engage with us in friendship. While it may feel unfortunate at times, it remains true that suffering is often the fastest path to intimacy with God. There is nothing that can teach us faster or more powerfully than circumstances that suck.
In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis describes God like a surgeon. A good surgeon, who really cares about His patients, will keep on cutting because it’s what’s best for the person on the table. It may not feel great, but it seems that the things that feel most like death possess the power to make us most alive. Suffering is a part of the human experience that God, in His great loyalty to us, takes advantage of for our own sakes.
Still, that doesn’t mean He likes the things that make us suffer. God is not a fan of sin. And while He loves the world, He loves His children more. Our God, in His great loyalty, is far more protective than we realize. Psalm 18, I think, is the most vivid account of this.
David tells the story of how God heard his cry as his enemies surrounded him and tried to end his life. And what does God do in response? He shakes the earth, shoots flames from His mouth in anger, flies down from heaven, chucks lightning bolts at David’s enemies, and then rescues him from death.
Now this of course is poetry, but it’s writing that captures the heart of God. I never thought reading about the anger of God could make me so sappy, but knowing that it springs from His loyalty to me onto the things that want to destroy me is comforting. God has made a covenant, a promise to never leave or abandon you. Don’t believe the lie that He will ever stop being loyal to His kids.
Those are just two lies out of the million you might be believing, so the journey doesn’t stop here. Of course not. But I can say with certainty that in the face of what felt like my breaking point, reminding myself of these two truths was a better answer to my suffering than simply letting the lies get quiet until further notice.
Jesus Christ has not ever stopped being good to you. So let us hold onto the hope that the Church has held for two thousand years: Our Lord is coming back to us in victory, and every bit of suffering and pain will be destroyed for all time. Until then, rejoice in your pain and make the best of the time. Draw near to God; He is not silent or hiding. Let Him cure your hopeless heart.
How will God rewrite your story this Easter? Join us online or at a local campus in Central Florida to celebrate Easter at Grace. We can’t wait to meet you!