March 2, 2023
Inviting God Into Our Pain
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"Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." James 4:8a (ESV)
In a recent season of my life, I felt like the heartbreak I was experiencing was going to break me.
The pain hit me with such sudden and sharp force that it felt like it cut through skin and bone. And it left me wondering if I'd ever be able to function like a normal person again.
Through that season, and even now, God has been tenderly reminding me that pain itself is not the enemy. Pain is the indicator that brokenness exists.
Pain is the reminder that the real enemy is trying to take us out and bring us down by keeping us stuck in broken places. If we can grasp God's perspective, pain can be the gift that motivates us to fight with tenacity and fierce determination, knowing there's healing on the other side.
And in the in-between? In that desperate place where we aren't quite on the other side of it all and our heart still feels quite raw? Even still, pain is an invitation for God to move in and replace our faltering strength with His power.
Now, I'm not writing this to throw out spiritual platitudes that sound good; I write it from the depth of a heart that knows it's the only way. We must invite God into our pain to help us survive the desperate in-between.
The only other choice is to run from the pain by using some method of numbing. But numbing the pain - with food, achievements, drugs, alcohol or scrolling on social media - never goes to the source of the real issue to make us healthier. It only silences our screaming need for help.
We think we're freeing ourselves from the pain when, in reality, what numbs us imprisons us. If we avoid the hurt, the hurt creates a void in us. It slowly kills the potential for our hearts to fully feel, fully connect, fully love again. It even steals the best in our relationship with God.
Pain is the sensation that indicates a transformation is needed. There's a weakness where new strength needs to enter. And we must choose to pursue long-term strength rather than temporary relief.
So how do we get this new strength? When the deepest parts of us scream for some relief, how do we stop ourselves from chasing what will numb us? How do we stop the piercing pain of this minute, this hour?
We invite God's closeness.
For me, during this painful season of my life, this meant praying constantly. No matter how vast our pit of despair, prayer is big enough to fill us with the realization of His presence like nothing else does.
Our key verse today (James 4:8a) reminds us that when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. When we invite Him to come close, He always accepts our invitation.
And on the days when my heart feels hurt and my words feel quite flat, I let Scripture guide my prayers - recording His Word in my journal and then adding my own personal thoughts.
No matter where you are today ... knee-deep in heartbreak, taking steps of healing or in the desperate in-between ... today is a great day to invite God to come closer.
One of my personal favorite Bible passages to turn to is Psalm 91. I would love to share a verse and a prayer with you as an example for how you can prayerfully invite God into your own pain:
Verse: "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91:1, NIV).
Prayer: Lord, draw me close. Your Word promises when I draw close to You, You are there. I want my "drawing close" to be a permanent dwelling place. I am not alone because You are with me. I am not weak because Your strength is infused in me. I am not empty because I'm drinking daily from Your fullness. You are my dwelling place. And in You, I have shelter from every stormy circumstance and harsh reality. I'm not pretending the hard things don't exist, but I am rejoicing in the fact that Your covering protects me and prevents those hard things from affecting me like they used to. You, the Most High, have the final say over me. You know me and love me intimately. And today I declare I will trust You in the midst of my pain. You are my everyday dwelling place, my saving grace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Friend, even if you only have a few moments to draw near to God through prayer today, I promise you'll end up feeling a lot less desperate and a lot more whole. If we let Him enter into the darkness of our hurt today, He will open wide the door to a much brighter tomorrow.
God, thank You for always being readily available to talk to me. I am thankful for the reminder that even when I am in a pit, You are with me. Your peace is just one prayer away. Thank You for being near to me during heartbreaking situations. I know healing is happening in ways I can't even see. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
Sometimes we need a reminder that there is so much more to our one incredible life than the sum total of our heartbreaks. In the pages of Lysa TerKeurst's new devotional, You're Going to Make It: 50 Morning and Evening Devotions to Unrush Your Mind, Uncomplicate Your Heart, and Experience Healing Today, you will receive the biblical Truth and encouragement you need when hurtful situations leave you worn out and unmotivated to spend time with God. When you preorder today, you'll immediately gain access to the first five devotions for your quiet time this week. Preorder now.
Find real-life encouragement when you connect with Lysa TerKeurst here on Instagram.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
1 Peter 5:10, "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (NIV)
How do these words encourage you today? How might you look at pain and suffering differently in light of God's promise to "restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast"? We'd love to hear from you in the comments!
© 2023 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.