“I don’t know if it’s supposed to be like this.”
This is what my friend voiced to me through tears as she shared where things are in her life. As she waits for grief.
If you’ve been there, you know. The loss is coming. Whether it’s a death or the removal of a person or something else from your life; you understand the pain. And this is one of those things that you just can’t know until you know.
I sat with her as she cried. Neither of us talked. I kept trying to think of something to say and then remembered how I felt during that year and half of what felt like constant loss. As much as I love words, they often fail. But presence and comfort? They hold a different kind of weight.
This post feels messy and unorganized. But I know that too many of you are out there. Right now. Walking through life with a heavy heart wondering if it’s supposed to be like this. Trusting God the best you know how, but with a broken heart. Wondering how and when He’s going to heal it like He promised. Glancing around, questioning if everyone else knows this feeling, or if maybe you’re just crazy and lost.
It isn’t just the death of a person in your life. It’s the loss of who that person used to be to you; either through illness or tragedy or just a broken relationship. Loss takes on so many faces.
Here’s what God promises when it comes to our suffering:
“He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us. And just has we experience the abundance of Christ’s own sufferings, even more of God’s comfort will cascade upon us through our union with Christ.” [2 Corinthians 1:4-5]
This verse made me angry for a significant amount of time. It sounded good to me in the beginning. That everything I go through will have a purpose because, someday, I’ll be able to comfort someone else. But as the days stretched on…honestly? It just didn’t seem worth it anymore. Because when you’re surrounded by suffering and pain, hope dims. Hope for redemption or healing or joy on the other side of it all seems so unreachable.
Let me be really clear before we dig any deeper here. God does not cause any of your pain. He’s not forcing a hard life on you for you to learn a lesson. But he turns every painful thing into something good, if we’ll let Him. So this: what you’re walking through right now? This suffering? This seemingly unanswered prayer? This hole in your life that feels like it grows deeper every day?
You have been entrusted to experience the comfort of God.
I’m not talking about just easing an uncomfy situation. I’m talking about drowning and suddenly finding breath again kind of comfort.
You have been given the privilege of being able to understand and empathize. You’ll be able to look that woman in the eye that just had a miscarriage and say, “I’m so sorry. I’ve been there, too.”
You’ve been given the gift of holding the hands of another widow and being able to understand her loneliness.
You’ve been entrusted with the experience of healing from divorce to let another woman know that there is hope and a future on the other side.
But, listen. You may not be there yet. You may be right smack in the middle of it, and God isn’t asking anything of you other than to let Him be the one to comfort you. Your time will come to pour it back out on someone else. But right now? God is longing to wrap you up. Even as you feel stupid because someone else is going through something harder than you. Even as you push Him away to try to be strong. There is no pressure for you to be further along in your journey.
If your eyes are blurry with despair and you’re not sure if you even believe hope is possible, I am here as proof that God can resurrect a broken heart. I am still a slow work in progress. I still grieve. But I am not hopeless. And I’m here to tell you it won’t always be this way. I know you can’t see it now. But I promise you, it is such a gift to understand someone else’s pain.
Trust that He really is good. He really is kind. He actually does love you the way you hope deep down that He does. Let Him carry you through with His comfort. Believe that the phrase “purpose in your pain” is real and not just a nice sounding string of words.