“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.” Psalm 22:14-15
Oh, to experience the pain and darkness of suffering.
I well remember a time in my life, seven years ago, that was filled with lingering darkness.
Intense fear, rampant anxiety, overwhelming physical and emotional pain ruled my being. I was a slave, made immobile by the beating of my master:
Brokenness gave me his name, and I in turn, gave him my life.
After months of frantically fighting the fear and anxiety, my heart, in exhaustion gave up. It was so tired. There was no more fight left to give. My broken heart became cold, numb and unfeeling.
It was easier that way. Brokenness was such a hard master. The constant sting of his whip, threatening to shatter every last sliver of light within me was less pungent beneath a calloused heart.
So I weakly surrendered to him. And with a victorious smile he declared what I already knew:
I was dead.
And there was no going back to the life I once had.
With suffering of any kind comes loss. And with any loss there is a death.
As I passively endured the weeks and months to come, I remember watching the world continue to go on around me while I felt like a motionless zombie, trapped in a lifeless existence. Everyone was oblivious to the suffering that defined my inner being. I had never felt so alone. I had never felt so unknown. My external suffering had passed months ago, but there was an invisible suffering that no one could see.
In my need to be known, freed, and resurrected I cried out to my God for rescue. If anyone could bring me back to life and rid me of this Brokenness it was Him.
But I heard nothing.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.” Psalm 22:1-2
Where was He? Why didn’t He answer? Where was the healing He had promised?
Previously only calloused, my heart was now growing completely hard. The defeat and despair began to find their strength in anger and bitterness.
How long would He be silent? Did He not care? Did He not see how I was suffering?
What is there left to conclude when we are faced with silence? What do you believe in the wake of never ending pain and suffering?
I started to assume, what I think most people assume when faced with suffering: that God either did not care, or that He wasn’t there.
The last sliver of hope and faith that Brokenness had not already shattered was quickly waning.
If there has been one thing that has caused my faith to waver throughout the years, it has been the silence of God during prolonged suffering.
Isn’t this the make it or break it issue for so many of us?
Where is God in suffering? Why does He allow it? Why doesn’t He stop it?
These are the questions we ask, these are the moments we face, when we are tempted to give up on God.
There is no way I, a young, simple, and not to mention finite, human girl, can answer questions such as these adequately in a short blog post like this. So I will not attempt to.
What I will attempt, however is to share with you what God did eventually say to me.
It took time, but in the stillness while I was alone, I finally heard His voice, softly whispering, but distinctly belonging to Him:
Don’t forget my promises.
I see you.
I hear you.
And I am coming.
Because I am not finished with you yet.
“For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him, but has listened to his cry for help.” Psalm 22:24
Even when I couldn’t hear Him and I couldn’t see Him, He saw me.
He heard my cry, and He never stopped loving me.
In the midst of pain, we tend to see only two things: what is lost behind us and what is directly in front of us. The thought of seeing beyond our suffering is almost laughable. What could be more powerful and impactful than the force of the pain that is dominating our present reality?
Not only that, but there is also a part of us that wants to protect our pain. We are scared that if we look for a positive, or put our faith in a God that doesn’t always explain Himself, we will somehow be undermining the severity of the damage the pain has caused.
Believing that a God who we cannot see, loves us and will come to rescue us feels like too much of a risk.
Because if He lets us down, we will be disappointed.
And the blow of that pain on top of the weight of what we are already experiencing would be enough to kill us.
So we instead make the choice to either be angry and assume the worst of Him, or not believe in Him at all. It feels safer that way. I know these feelings well, because I was right in the thick of them.
But these feelings are not truth. So they can’t be believed.
Isaiah 49:13-16 is one of my favorite passages. It says,
“Shout for joy, you heavens;
rejoice, you earth;
burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
the Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.”
As someone who has gone through the valley of death and come out alive, I am here to tell you that whatever reason there is for the suffering you are going through, God has not forgotten you.
He has never stopped loving you.
And He is coming to rescue you.
So before we answer the question of why we are going through whatever we are going through, we have to first believe that important truth.
This is the only thing that will give us the hope and faith we need to believe that He has a plan that goes beyond anything we can imagine.
We can only see what is right in front of us. But God sees the whole picture.
Jesus hung there on the cross. Bruised, bloody, wounded and dying.
The hope of the world, crushed on display for everyone to see.
“He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” The onlookers mocked at the defeat before them.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He cried out.
And then, it was finished.
Jesus died. Death had won.
Or so it seemed.
For just three days later, an impossibility that only God achieve turned everyone’s worlds upside down when Jesus showed up.
Even when He was silent and all hope seemed to have died, God was still working to rescue the day.
So if you have found yourself in the deepest, darkest place that you can imagine, and Brokenness has destroyed all your hope; if you have been crying out to God and all you hear is silence; if the thought of seeing beyond your circumstance seems impossible and all you can see is what’s in front of you, remember this:
On the deepest, darkest day in history, there was still hope. There was still love.
And even in silence, God was still working.
This post is the ninth post in a 31 Day Series titled, Discovering How God Makes a Difference. To read the rest of the posts in this series click here.
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