Not Ignoring Either the Pain or the Beauty In Our Lives and In This World

Courtesy of Little Birdie Blessings

“Why? Why? Why?” The only word she would speak. On and on in a croaky voice.

This woman recently passed away at the care facility where my granddaughter works. Over-analyzer that I am, I wondered “why” she did this. Were there deep hurts in her heart that she could not voice?

It wouldn’t let me go, and I realized that deep down in my heart many whys are like heavy sludge, refusing to loosen. Why do so many vulnerable children and adults suffer from abuse and neglect? Why is there so much hate and injustice in this world? Why won’t God heal me from this chronic illness? Why does my heart sometimes refuse to see myself through Jesus’ love and grace? Why do I condemn myself when God doesn’t condemn me? Why can’t I let go and trust God completely with all that overwhelms me? Why? Why? Why?

I too easily get bogged down with the pain and ugliness in this world. How dare I be happy when so many people are suffering in this world? I can’t seem to let go of these concerns and place them into the hands of our God who has the whole world in His hands. And I forget to remember the beauty He still gives us.

I recently read an article about living in the tension of beauty and pain. Alia Joy‘s reflections resonate in my heart and speak to the anxieties that sometimes burden me. She challenges us to keep turning our eyes toward beauty.

“We keep turning our eyes toward beauty,
not to ignore the ugliness in the world,
but to have the strength to do something about it.

He has equipped me with everything I need.
He’s not calling me to ignore
his blessings or my pain,
he’s asking me to bear witness
to life as it is.
The pain and the beauty.

He’s calling me to peace in the tension,
not an escape nor another thing to do
but a place to abide in him
and be met with hope.”

Focusing too much on the pain and darkness can overwhelm us and drain our strength. Turning our eyes toward beauty, especially the love and hope to be found in Jesus, strengthens us. Our calling is to abide in Him and His love and to bear witness of life as it is, both the pain and the beauty.

During my break, I again revisited a 2012 post, Depression and New Beginnings. It helps to remember how God graciously sends beauty in the midst of pain to help us move towards the light of His love and grace and how He gave me the vision for a changed focus at this blog.

It’s good to remind ourselves of past mercies, isn’t it? To purposely look back at how God rescued us again and again. To remember that even when we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, God is still loving us and working quietly to strengthen us to make it through the darkness.

Pain in your heart and life, in mine, and in this world is real, and God doesn’t want us to ignore it or hide it. May we be authentic with the pain and the ugliness but also bear witness to the beauty of His unfailing love and compassion.

Though I have returned, I need to give myself more grace. I hope to be here through the summer, but there will be times when I share something short or even skip a week or two. I look forward to hearing from many of you again. As always, readers, though I would love to connect with you, don’t ever feel pressured to comment. Whether or not you join in the comments, it is my prayer that Jesus wraps you in the safety of His love and grace. I hope you never leave here without His hope!

Steady My Heart
by Kari Jobe

“Even when it hurts
Even when it’s hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
‘Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart…”


Hanging Onto HOPE In This Chaotic World

“So God has given both His promise and His oath.
These two things are unchangeable
because it is impossible for God to lie.
Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge
can have great confidence
as we hold to the hope that lies before us.
This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.
It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.”

Hebrews 6:18-19 NLT

On February 3, 9-year-old Serenity Dennard walked out of The Black Hills Children’s Home Society, a private nonprofit that provides residential treatment and programs for children who are victims of domestic violence, abuse and neglect, or other trauma.

Dozens of people have searched for her for days, also using a helicopter and 7 scent and cadaver dog teams. Because of cold temps and snow, it turned into a recovery effort. But still no Serenity.

I keep praying, “God, please help them find her!” I keep checking up on the latest search news. But still no Serenity.

God, why won’t You answer the prayers of all the people who are praying? You know where she is. Help, Lord!

When something like this happens, I always think the worst. I fear someone who doesn’t have honorable intentions has picked her up. I’m so scared. Not only for Serenity, but for children who are missing everywhere. My heart aches for them and for their loved ones who must be agonizing on what has happened or is happening to their child, grandchild, etc.  

It’s hard not to get distressed or depressed when we know the evil that is happening in this world, whether openly or secretly, to vulnerable children and adults. So much pain and sorrow. So much hate and discrimination. So much abuse and injustice. It can wrench us to the depth of our souls. It can seem so hopeless and we can feel so helpless.

I have been upset with God, because I know He knows where Serenity is. I have been focusing too much on all that is happening in this chaotic world. I have listened too much to all the lies that Satan whispers, sometimes even without my realizing it, that all these things are far too big for God to handle. I have hung onto my pride that my plan is better than God’s. I have let it overwhelm me and I have refused to allow myself to unclench my fists of rebellion and give it all to Jesus.

In Psalm 42, David was taunted, too. He described himself as a deer panting for water brooks, hunted by its enemy. Day and night he wept for God’s help. His enemies scoffed, “Where is this God of yours?”

Two times in this Psalm, David cried out:

“Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise Him again—
my Savior and my God!”

Despite all the raging emotions in his heart and the taunting of his enemies, he pushed past all the discouragement that was drowning him and grasped onto the hope there is in God. He remembered his Savior, his Refuge, and his Promise-Keeper who never lies. He recalled how strong and trustworthy our Anchor of Hope is.

Yes, we live in a broken world where bad things happen. Where people choose to hurt people. Where Satan is still fighting to discourage us and keep us from our Anchor of Hope. But God is still in control. He is still the King, even though we don’t understand everything that happens.

Someday we will understand. Meanwhile, however much it hurts, may we together remember God knows and loves and cares. Nothing bad that ever happens will change that truth. Without that truth, we have no hope.

I Have This Hope
by Tenth Avenue North

“As I walk this great unknown
Questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?

I don’t want to live in fear
I want to trust that You are near
Trust Your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy

I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go…”

Remembering God Is Still King

Does your heart get discouraged with all the hate, violence, and abuse in our country and in this world? When you think of so many hearts devastated and hurting? So many crying in pain while no justice is done? Perhaps some of you have been through it yourself or still are experiencing it personally or in your family? Rejection, abuse, and disrespect that tears your soul apart?

This summer, after the Charlottesville attack, I was so overwhelmed and disheartened. I was driving in our van, and Natalie Grant’s song – The King of the World – came on the radio. These lyrics hit home like never before:

“When did I forget that You’ve always been the King of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the King of the world
How could I make You so small
When You’re the One who holds it all
When did I forget that You’ve always been the King of the world?”

Not immediately, but gradually, as this song kept replaying in my heart, I could lay my stress and people’s hearts into the King’s hands. God is still the King over this whole world. He knows all. He sees all. No pain is hidden from Him. And just because so much is happening doesn’t mean He has left us or doesn’t care.

When I heard hundreds of people singing “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,” my heart knew that’s what I need to remember, too. Hate can shout so loudly, but I must not let it drown out my voice and discourage me from spreading the light of Jesus’ love.

I easily forget that God is in control of everything, so I often have to remind myself of this truth. Here are several summer photos of God’s power and glory in the skies that help me to remember He is still the King of the World!

 

 

 

“The heavens declare
the glory of God;

the skies proclaim
the work of His hands.”

Psalm 19:1

 

My husband and I were visiting our son and his family in Omaha, NE, when a tornado hit the area. As we sheltered in a room in the basement, our grandkids admitted they were afraid. Even little Gracie, their dog, was trembling as she felt their fear. Thanks be to God, our lives were spared and not much damage was done to their home. The next town over wasn’t so fortunate, though no lives were lost. When we went to the open garage, I was speechless with awe as I looked at the display of God’s splendor in these first two photos. Do you see how God spread His light through the clouds, breaking up the rolling darkness of the storm? Oh God, how could I ever make You so small when You’re the One who holds it all?

The next three are photos of an evening sky here in Sioux Falls. My husband drove us further to the east where buildings wouldn’t block our view. Wow! Oh God, how could I forget You will always be the King of the world?


The last four photos are from my brother in Arizona. Awesome views of a monsoon sky!

God is and always will be the King of the world. He’s got us, no matter what pain we go through, whether through natural disasters or inflicted by evil human choices. He is never going to grow tired or weary of keeping us in His faithful love and care.

“Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and His understanding no one can fathom.”
Isaiah 40:28

“King of the World”
by Natalie Grant