“Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.” – Psalm 56:8-9
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” – Isaiah 53:3-4
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” – Revelation 21:4
A recent TV commercial featured an overprotective mom smothering her 10-year old son. The poor boy watches in humiliated horror, as his misguided mom awkwardly shields him from a hail of gym class dodgeballs, saying, “Don’t worry, honey. Mommy’s here.”
Yep. That could be me.
I see my little boy get his heart broken, and I want to run to his rescue. My instinct is to fix everything for him. But sometimes, playing hero to my 6-year old only distracts him from the One Who should really be at the center of his little heart. And lately, I’ve been learning to push him to prayer, rather than shielding him from every last dodgeball in life.
There is a good grief that draws us closer to the side of our Savior. We cling to people that we think can mend our broken hearts and right our world, but heartbreak can bring perspective and put the people in our lives in their proper place. Heartbreak has a way of pushing us to prayer and pushing God to the forefront – where He belongs.
If you’re waiting on someone in your life to heal your hurting, let me show you some people who learned that only God could bring good from their grief:
- Hannah (I Samuel 1) – Though she was barren, Hannah was beloved by her husband (Verses 4-5), but Elkanah’s sincere love for her (“Am not I better to thee than ten sons?”) couldn’t shield her from the cruelty of his other wife, and it couldn’t give her the child she desired (Verses 6-8). Hannah’s redemption came when she took her grief to God, and her vow to give her son back to the Healer of her heart paved the way for Samuel’s lifetime of service to the Lord (I Samuel 3:19-20, Hebrews 11:32-33). And in the end, God would reward Hannah’s faithfulness by giving her 5 more children (I Samuel 2:21, Isaiah 54:1, Hebrews 11:6).
- Joseph (Genesis 37) – Jacob doted on the son of his beloved Rachel, but his doting only fueled the hatred of his other sons. When that hatred finally boiled over, Joseph found himself at the bottom of a pit, clinging to the hope that his oldest brother Reuben would somehow talk the others out of killing him. But Reuben’s rescue plan failed, and Joseph was sold to slave traders (Verses 21-30). People would continue to let Joseph down – Potiphar would believe his scheming wife, and Pharaoh’s butler would forget all about Joseph as soon as his own dream came true. But God would be with Joseph through every heartbreak, working out a providential plan that even the Dreamer couldn’t see coming (Genesis 37:19, 41:51-52, 50:20, Acts 7:9-10, Hebrews 11:22).
- The Woman with the Issue of Blood (Mark 5:25-34) – This woman knew her own brand of heartbreak. She had spent 12 lonely years living in the shadow of a Levitical curse that rendered her “unclean” and destroyed any hope of a normal life (Leviticus 15:25). Her desperation made her easy prey for quacks and con artists, and she had poured money into treatments that somehow worsened her condition, leaving her broke and still broken. But when she fought her way through the crowd to make contact with Jesus, this broken woman would be publicly declared “whole” by the Savior Himself (Isaiah 61:1, Matthew 11:28-29, John 8:36).
Everything has a purpose in God’s hands (Romans 8:28, Philippians 3:10, I Peter 5:10). And when given to God, suffering puts us on common ground with our uncommon Savior – the Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3-5), Who willingly took all the worst of sin’s outcomes on Himself, so that He could one day “make all things new”.
Find the good in your grief. Stop looking to people to save you, and instead, ask God what He wants to accomplish in and through you. People will let you down, but God will lift you up in due time (I Peter 5:6-7). And one glorious day, all grief will be gone (Revelation 21:4).
What a day that will be.
Have you been waiting on someone to change your situation? Have you been waiting on someone to simply change? Ask God what He wants to change and wait on Him instead.