When We Sit in the Longing

by Andrea Kolber


What do we do with all the little and big heartbreaks? With people who disappoint us? With Valentine's dates that never come? How about the longings that don't get fulfilled? Where do we go with these things?

Because unless you live in an insulated world, you're experiencing that sharp twinge that tells you what you have is not enough and/or you 'should' want more. In our family, there is something that my husband and I have prayed, longed and hoped for. But as of now, it hasn't happened. And that is hard.  

But it would be foolish to think that I am the only one. 

In fact, I know I'm not the only one. In my line of work, I have the privilege of hearing the depth of longing of the human heart. It is beautiful. And it is heartbreaking. 

So today, please hear that you are not the only one who's prayed and hasn't heard anything. Who's asked and heard silence. Who literally thought, "Where is God?" 

I don't think this revelation is new to anyone.

And yet, it's a timely discussion. We have a world that is hurting and in need. It is a central question to ask, where is God in this? And for me, what is His posture towards us in pain?

The Christian faith affirms that God is in control and will ultimately work out every circumstance to good for those who know Jesus (Romans 8:28), and yet it is important to ask, how does He feel about this pain and longing we experience? 

This last weekend, I had the joy of participating in the IF:Local conference through IF:Gathering. It was so encouraging to see so many powerful women honoring who God made them and worshiping Him. During the course of the weekend, I had the opportunity to hear some amazing speakers. However, one message resonated so strongly with me, that I wanted to build on it a little more here. 

Jen Hatmaker spoke about her journey as a believer and particularly the development of her faith. I love how she discusses the wrestling of her faith with the goodness of God. She talks about feeling uncertain and grieved when she found out her mom had been diagnosed with cancer. Could she believe that God was still good? Would she continue to believe that His character is good? Here's her takeaway after processing her new reality: 

(I have learned) God is capable, higher, good and trustworthy. It is safe to be faithful to a faithful God...so you can give your heart permission to trust Him, He is trustworthy.

I love that Jen is talking about her struggles from the pulpit. I love that she has fought to know that God is good because she asked the question. Make no mistake, asking the question is scary.

She puts it this way: "It's no small thing to embrace faith. We should expect to battle for it." 

Because if we ask the tough questions, we risk finding out that the answer isn't what we want to hear. Or, it may be exactly what our heart needs to find rest. 

The other piece that I appreciate, is that Jen is talking about it as a person who is in the trenches. As in, this is happening right now. It is so easy to say in the middle of prosperity and health, "Yes, God is good." 

But what about in the lean times?

What about when your heart hurts? 

This, dear ones, is when I believe that it matters the most. Here is how the Bible describes God's posture towards us in difficult times: 

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit
— Psalm 34:18

And another of my favorites:

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live...The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me.
— Psalm 116 1-2; 5-6

 

It is hard for me to connect our pain with a God who is "close to the brokenhearted" but there He is. Grieving with us in our grief. Hurting with us in our pain. Joining us. In my experience, being seen and validated in pain is extraordinarily powerful. It doesn't take it away, but I believe it can give us the fuel and courage to find beauty and meaning in pain and ultimately to continue our journey as God does work it out for good. 

I don't know what longing you are sitting in today, but my hope for you is that you would have patience with the process, and to know that you are loved deeply in the middle of it. 

 

 

How does your pain shape your view of God?  Is it harder or easier for you to connect with God in difficult times?