“How are you today ma’am?” the sales clerk asks as she picks up my oranges to scan.
Oh if you only knew, dear girl. “Good,” I mutter with a pressed smile. If you only knew…I’m not good. I’m far from it. Where do I begin? Oh yeah, let’s start with five months ago when my dreams were shattered into bits and pieces when I found out my husband was gone. And then there’s the fact that I have two young boys who don’t have their daddy anymore. Did I mention I not only am going through extreme devastation, but I feel absolutely terrible physically? I’m sick and my son is sick. He won’t let me put him down for a second without crying. Try that when your head is pounding and your sleep is lacking and you’re just sad and want to lie in bed and cry. And another thing, since you asked and all, I continue to get devastating news from friends and family going through this similar heartbreak. I’ve waved the white flag, “I surrender,” but the hard times just won’t let up. When will life become good again?!?
“Have a good day,” she unknowingly smiles as she hands me my bags.
“Thanks, you too,” I breathe out and choke back the tears.
Along this road of grief, I find myself standing in the midst of a dark tunnel of anguish. It is a suffering torment like the intense pains of childbirth. It’s difficult to see outside the pain. At times, I forget that I am even walking on a path and think I’ve hit a dead end. I forget that there’s hope and promises and joy to stand on; that there’s a light at the end of this tunnel. Instead of continuing to take a step, I embrace the pain and collapse; self-pity wants to have its way with me again.
But God gently nudges me, reminding me that He is here with me in this darkness and I just need to trust Him to take the next step. “But God,” I cry out, “the steps are just too hard to take.” Not with praise and thanksgiving on your lips, He reminds me. Initially, because my sight has been distorted by darkness, I think, Praise you for what? There’s darkness all around. I feel like I receive that “are you serious?” look from God and a head nod urging me to open up His Word. As I read, rays of light begin unfolding into the darkness. I breathe in the promises, the hope, and the joy. I feel a renewing of spirit like water in a sun-scorched land. The therefores and yets and buts have never leaped so far off the pages:
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26 (emphasis added)
Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him,” But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. Psalm 3:2-5 (emphasis added)
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:19-24 (emphasis added)
“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. John 16:20-22 (emphasis added)
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in
trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the
earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. Psalm 46:1-2 (emphasis added)
By remembering the power of His promises, my lips start
singing praises and thanksgiving over those therefores and yets and buts.
And I find He was right. It is easier to take a step forward. I can now stand and walk confidently. There’s so much to praise
God for when I just take time to remember what He has promised. I’m thankful there’s always hope for the
hopeless, joy for those experiencing anguish, healing for brokenness, rest for
the weary, and peace for the troubled. Yes,
I am here in the midst of this dark tunnel of grief, yet I remember His promises and therefore I have hope.
I am in the throes of pain, but
there is a light at the end of this tunnel.
So I continue walking, with my footsteps lighter and my head held higher.