“I’m tired of being thankful,” she said softly, as tears shone in her eyes.
Honest words. Hard to say in a church sanctuary, of all places, where there are lots of smiles and music.
And very often masks firmly in place.
Her life has been shattered into many pieces. She is tired of trying to trace the rainbow through the rain. Most days she doesn’t even see the rainbow; just the seemingly never-ending storm. The hurt runs deep. So deep that the mask has come off because the pain is too much to hide behind a chipper, “I’m fine, thanks.”
Sometimes life is anything but “fine.”
Church should be the safest of places to bare our hurts, our confusion, our pain, our tears. And thank God, sometimes it is.
However, as one pastor states, “Instead of a hospital for sufferers, church becomes a glorified costume party, where lonely men and women tirelessly police each other’s facade of holiness. The higher up in the pecking order, the less room for weakness.”
This kind of nonsense is not ever from Jesus.
Jesus is real to the bone. He openly showed a range of emotions to His disciples when He walked this earth. He was not afraid to cry. He asked for prayer and support in His darkest hour. He revealed His heartbreak over sin and death and pride. To this day, He deeply feels everything we feel.
… In all their distress He too was distressed … in His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them … —Isaiah 63:9
He desires truth in our inner being (Ps. 51:6). The problem is that sometimes what is in there is so ugly that we don’t want to look at it, let alone acknowledge it. But we must … if we want to be free.
The enemy would prefer that we keep everything locked up tight inside, that we cement our masks firmly in place and by all means, keep smiling! And all the while, the pain eats away at our hearts like a cancer and our world grows small and claustrophobic and we feel like we are suffocating.
Yet, Jesus is our Deliverer.
We went through fire and through water, but You brought us out into a broad place (to abundance and refreshment, and the open air). —Psalms 66:12
That is always His goal for us: abundance, revival, the fresh air of liberty! Liberty from sin. Liberty from fear. Liberty from the performance-driven mentality. Liberty from striving to have the ”perfect” life or be the “perfect” Christian. (There is no such thing).
Because in the end, it is always and only about what Jesus has done for us on the Cross … not what we do for Him. As long as we live, we will never outgrow our need for the Gospel, the Good News: I am a great sinner but Jesus is a great Savior.
You may ask, “How does the fact that Jesus died on the cross impact my current situation/heartache/trial in 2012?”
The gospel doesn’t simply rescue us from the past and rescue us for the future; it also rescues us in the present from being enslaved to things like fear, insecurity, anger, self-reliance, bitterness, entitlement, and insignificance.” —Tullian Tchividjian, Jesus + Nothing = Everything
He goes on to say, Rediscovering the gospel enabled me to see that:
because Jesus was strong for me, I was free to be weak;
because Jesus won for me, I was free to lose;
because Jesus was someone, I was free to be no one;
because Jesus was extraordinary, I was free to be ordinary;
because Jesus succeeded for me, I was free to fail. (pp. 23-24)
That is, indeed, good news! Because of the cross, there is a happily-ever-after for all of our sad stories.
So, if today finds you in the same place as my friend, know that every single day for the rest of your life, you will always have one thing to be thankful for … and it is the most important thing of all: Jesus came for you. He rescued you when you had no hope. He gave you new life.
It’s okay to thank Him through your tears.
It’s okay that you may not feel thankful.
It’s okay to pour your heart out to Him.
And in the end, He will make it all okay.
As we parted, I reminded my friend that we are all broken. Nobody has it all together in this fallen world. That’s why we need each other. We can pick up those who have fallen and remind them that, for Christ’s own, the darkest night does not last forever. Morning always comes.
So be kind to each other. As you go into this day, keep your eyes open to those who may be hurting … and remind them of the Good News.
For God so loved and dearly prized (you) that He even gave up His only begotten Son (for you), so that when (you) believe in, trust in, cling to, rely on Him, (you) will not perish, come to destruction, be lost, but (you will) have eternal, everlasting life. —John 3:16, Amplified