It was April 1st….I remember because someone said, “I wish this was an April Fool’s joke, but it isn’t”.
I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard from the other end of the phone. As I put down the receiver, a flood of emotions attacked me like a tidal wave.
Out of the blue, circumstances in my life were about to change. A relationship was going to end.
It wasn’t my choice. The choice was made for me.
Now I was only left with heartache and questions:
What now? Why? How did this happen?
The only answer I had was “I don’t know…I don’t know.”
The next few weeks became less about answering the questions and more about dealing with the intense heartache and grief in my heart. I can honestly say that I went through all of the stages of loss:
….shock (a.k.a. I had no idea this was coming)
….anger (yeah, I was like a raging bull)
…bargaining (maybe things will change if I…guess what, they didn’t)
...depression (by late May the pain in my heart was exhibiting itself in full exhaustion and despair)
….until I finally began to find resolution.
Honestly, resolution wasn’t something that I just woke up and found one day. No, it was more like a process. It came little by little, step by step as I chose to walk in that direction.
I spent a lot of time in prayer, with a box of tissues in one hand and a pen to pour out all of my feelings into a journal in the other.
I found comfort and direction in the Bible.
A friend recommended a book that was the perfect application for my situation. I read it, reread it, and took notes on it.
Then I had to choose obedience. It wasn’t enough to read the Bible and my friend’s book; I had to put what I learned into action.
This included doing the right thing even when it hurt.
There were days when I had to smile and treat someone with kindness that didn’t deserve to be treated with kindness.
Choosing forgiveness over revenge (then repeating that choice over and over again).
Ultimately, I had to choose to accept that this relationship was over and move on in a new direction. Then there was the daunting task of allowing myself to be vulnerable and open to new relationships when I would have much rather said, “I’ll keep to myself…no one is hurting me like that again.”
Step by step as I made the choices to move forward in obedience, time moved on.
By the Fall, the pain was less…by Christmas a little less still.
And then one Sunday morning in March, I was standing in church worshipping God when I realized that the pain was gone.
The heartache that was once controlling my life and influencing my decisions wasn’t there anymore. It was just a distant memory.
Instead, on that bright winter day, I realized that I was happy. I was filled with peace.
The Holy Spirit had done a tremendous healing work inside of me.
The pain, the anger, and all of the fear were gone.
As the congregation sang “You revive me, You revive me, Lord, and all my deserts are rivers of joy”…I realized that God had done this in my life. Even though it took time, a year later, I could look back and see that what I formerly thought was a tragedy, was actually a gift.
One of my favorite Psalms has always been Psalm 126:
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.
This Scripture reminds us that even in our darkest of times, we always have the hope of restoration, renewed hope, and renewed joy. It was written on the heels of Israel’s captivity in Babylon—a time when they’d lost everything. Forced to leave the Promised Land given to them by God, they must have experienced fear, anger, heartache, and loss. Yet, this was not their end.
There was still hope.
After the prophesied 70 years of captivity for disobedience had passed, God restored them to their land. Little by little, they rebuilt and they experienced restoration.
Healing came, and they were again able to testify, “Look at the great things God has done.”
No matter what you’re going through today, this Scripture can give you hope. True, you may be in a time of mourning right now. Loss comes in many different forms and all of us go through painful times in life. If you find yourself in one of these times right now, I want to encourage you that THIS IS NOT THE END.
There is hope.
God still has a plan.
Even if you can’t see it right now, if you continue going to Him with your pain and walking in obedience to His Word through your pain, you will find your way to the other side of the pain and see that ultimately, God had a plan even when you couldn’t see it. Someday, you too, will testify with the psalmist “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
My best advice, as someone who’s experienced a lot of difficult times in life, (not just minor oowies, but serious, “Why does this hurt so badly?” pain) is to hold onto hope.
Cling to your Heavenly Father, Who is there for you during the good, the bad, and the horrendous times in life.
Trust Him with not just your life, but your heart, and spend time with Him so He can heal it.
Choose to do the right thing and walk in obedience to God’s Word, even when you don’t feel like it.
Take a deep breath, and keep moving forward, believing that: “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy” and “Weeping may remain through the night, but joy comes in the morning.”