We all have perceptions about God and how He responds when we’re hurting. The question is, are our perceptions true? Do we see Him accurately? Can we depend on our perceptions about God to tell us what is true? Especially in times of crisis? When our emotions feel raw?
When the storms of life come, we need a plum-line. Something we can depend on that’s more stable than our emotions. Something to tell us what is true, even when it doesn’t look true in the moment. That plum-line is the word of God. In it we find unchanging, eternally true…truth. Truth about God. Truth about His character. Truth about His response to hurting people. Here are some truths to cling to when we’re hurting:
God cares about your pain. Psalm 3:71 says, “I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul.”
Anguish. I’ve been there. Have you? God sees it. He sees you. He is the God Who sees. He sees you in the middle of the night when your heart feels like it’s bleeding. In those moments that no one else sees…He sees. Your anguish is one reason Jesus came to this earth. He wanted to bind up the brokenhearted. He came to tend to the anguish in your soul. What exactly is our soul? Includes our whole self. It includes our emotions, passions, desires and appetites.
God cares about the emotional anguish you experience.
God is compassionate. He doesn’t just feel compassion for you. Compassion is part of Who He is. He feels it for ALL of His creation, including you. Psalm 145 tells us,
“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”
Maybe it hasn’t always LOOKED to you like God had compassion for your pain. Has your faith been tested like mine has? Maybe you’re in a season right now where it is a HUGE step of faith to say, “God, I believe that you have compassion for me because your word says you do. And your word is true. I choose to trust your unfailing word over my feelings and perceptions.” That kind of faith pleases God.
God is willing and able to heal our emotional pain. He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up the wounds in our hearts. (Psalm 147:3) He restores our souls. This includes our emotions. (Psalm 23:3) He is our comforter. He made us to be people with emotions; He can surely heal our emotions. God’s comfort renews our hope and our joy. (Psalm 94:19)
Another thing we need to know about God when we’re in emotional pain is that He doesn’t get off His throne for anyone, not even His beloved children. When I was deep in depression, I tried to make myself the center. Not out of rebellion, but in an attempt to survive. My eyes were totally on myself. Like a bleeding person who’d been in a car wreck, I focused on myself because I was trying to figure out how to escape the pain. But we’ll never figure out how to heal by looking at ourselves. God asks something very difficult of us when we’re in emotional anguish. He asks us to turn our gaze onto Him. Look at Him. Adore Him. Enter His gates with praise. THEN tell Him about our pain. God is attracted to faith. It’s our worship that gives us entrance into His throne room. That place where we can go confidently with our needs.
This truth was one of the hardest for me to learn. I was hard headed. I’d sit in anguish, just waiting for God to come and comfort me. I wanted Him to pet my pain. Here’s the deal: Our help comes from God when we look up. Psalm 121 says,
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
It was when I looked up, bowed down, and waited for Him that He came to comfort me.
Another thing we need to know about God when in pain is that God blesses those who put their hope in Him. Isaiah 30:18 says,
“The LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.”
God wants to be our refuge. But we must come to Him with our pain. Tell Him about our pain. Be honest about our pain. Put our hope in Him for emotional well-being.
There were many years when I didn’t do this. The foundation for my hope was in the things of this world. I put my hope in human psychology. In medication. In exercise and special diets. In positive thinking. But these things failed to heal my heart. They may have helped me cope at times, but true healing? That came from God.
During the years that I suffered from depression, my husband used to say, “Arlene, God can help you with this.” In my heart I’d say, yeah, yeah. Let’s talk about a real solution.” I was filled with unbelief. I tried it my way. For 25 years. Instead of getting better, the pain only increased. It grew until I could no longer compartmentalize it. It began to spill out in public places. I felt so humiliated. But that is what it took for me to admit that my way wasn’t healing my pain. In desperation, and sadly as a last resort, I put my hope in God.
Psalm 146 says, ”
“Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save…Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God…he remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed…The Lord sets prisoners free…the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down.”
God may at times use the people and things of this world to help us heal from emotional pain. But we need to ask ourselves, “What is the foundation for my hope?” Is it God? Because if our foundation is anything else, we have built our lives on shifting sand. When the storms of life come, may you find your life built upon the solid rock.
“…I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” Isaiah 49:23