In order to find rest for our souls, it often means we must struggle first.
It seems like a contradiction, but reading Dan Allender’s book To be Told this morning I understood something I hadn’t before.
My counselor has been praying that I would grieve. This sounds so negative. Who wants to grieve and feel the sorrow and the sense of emptiness? Who enjoys that?
But as I look back on my life when I’ve most clearly seen my prayers being answered it’s when I’ve struggled.
My father’s death and seeing his body in the coffin. The swirl of emotions that I wanted to escape so desperately drove me to ask a doctor that I was attracted to for help. I even admitted I was attracted to him. I look back on that time and think I must have been insane. But desperation sometimes causes us to be irrational. But thank God He doesn’t waste any of even our craziest moments. A part of me wanted this man to be the strong leader I thought I’d always needed. This man could have taken advantage, but instead he cared enough to point me to Jesus, the only Strong One I’d ever need. I remember reading my Bible, struggling with the shame in my heart and emotions that I didn’t understand. I had no idea at this time about the abuse I’d suffered as a child. But it didn’t matter what I remembered or didn’t remember, all that mattered was that in my struggle I went to God. And He rescued my heart.
Often times I want to spare my husband his struggle by offering words of comfort in his pain or worse yet solutions. He’s come to depend on me emotionally. I recognized this morning that in the worst of my struggles God has been silent, allowing me to feel the worst of the pain so I’d turn to Him for help. When I’ve gotten to this place and screamed and begged the most it is when I’ve seen God act. I know that I must learn not to interfere with my husband’s pain. Dan says that pain leads us to the place where we learn to hate the same things that God hates and also to seek justice just like He does. Think of the most horrible stories you’ve heard. Then think of the biggest heroes you’ve ever heard of. Most of them have come out of places of great pain. It’s not what I want to hear or acknowledge. I’d much rather do more, try harder to diminish my pain, find pleasure and live the American Dream, but I’ve tried and it doesn’t work. My pursuit of pleasure with my abusive pastor drove me to a place of utter despair and emptiness that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I thought he was the strong man I’d always needed, the life I deserved, but I was so wrong. And in losing my life I realized that Jesus offers the only life worth living. And it comes by sacrificing everything to Him. Mostly I’m seeing the hardest sacrifices are my own painful emotions that cause me to struggle and wrestle with Him. I recognize I have to allow the others in my life that I truly love to be brought to the same place. I cannot fix their pain. I can only bear their burdens by listening, loving and praying for them. They must carry their own loads to Jesus.