A dear friend is experiencing an unspeakably tragic event. She and her family are walking a path that I pray to God I never have to walk. My heart breaks for her, and I am at a loss as to how to comfort her.
She was sharing her grief and pain with me last week, and desperate to know how she might survive this heartache, she asked me if I had ever been broken; if I had ever experienced this degree of despair and hopelessness.
I have never experienced the horror that she is living through right now, however, I was able to say to her “Yes. Yes, I have experienced brokenness, despair, helplessness, and hopelessness.”
There have been seasons when I felt as if I had been dropped on the floor and my entire being – my spirit, soul, and emotions — were shattered into a million pieces; I was so broken I felt unable to pull two pieces back together, and there was no one to help me. I know that helplessness and brokenness.
I have walked through the deep dark valley of the shadow of death that sits between towering mountains so high they block out the sun. I have felt the oppressive weight of the shadow forcing me down, and just when I thought I couldn’t take anymore, I’ve been pinned to the ground by an overwhelming wave of grief and I cannot breathe. I know that despair.
I have endured hopelessness – spiritually, relationally, and professionally. I’ve tread water in the bottomless ocean of despair until I was exhausted. I’ve cried until my eyes were swollen and I could barely see, and yes, I will admit, there was a time when I begged God to take me home, because I saw no purpose for my life. I know hopelessness.
I also know the One True and Almighty God who met me in all my times of hopelessness, brokenness, helplessness, and despair. I know him personally. I know him intimately. I know his promises. I know he is trustworthy to keep all his promises. I know he loves me. I know he heals me. I know he rescues me. I know he cares for me more than I can ever imagine.
This is the truth my friend is searching for when she asks me if I’ve ever been broken. It is not about my brokenness, it is about the God who holds us together, or puts us back together in our brokenness. My friend needs to know that God has not abandoned her, that he will somehow – miraculously – in his perfect time, rescue and heal her. She is asking: Do you know, by experience, that God is who he says he is, and that he will do what he says he will do?
Do you know, by experience, that God is who he says he is, and that he will do what he says he will do?
Yes, my sweet friend. Yes, I do know that for a fact. And, yes, a thousand times yes, the same God will rescue you!
The Lord is our only hope in our hopelessness, our only help in our helplessness, and the only assurance in our despair.
Yes, he will come to you in your brokenness. My friend cannot hold herself together, nor can she hold her family members together. She is shattered and helpless. She is asking me if the Lord is lying on the floor with her, and will he hold her even when she has no ability to hold onto him. He will not let her go. He will sustain her.
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. – (Psalm 34 NLT)
Yes, the Lord will be with you in your heartache in the scorched earth lava flow of despair. There is no end to my friend’s tears. She is asking me if the Lord will enable her to survive this tragedy. He will not let this destroy her; he will see to it she survives this indescribable pain. Life will go on, and he will continue to use her for his glory.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.(Isaiah 43:2) NIV
Yes, the Lord walks with you through this valley of the impenetrably dark shadow of death. She is asking if the Lord, who puts breath in our lungs so that we continue to breathe when we feel like we can’t, will enable her to put one foot in front of the other until she comes through the valley to the green pastures that he has prepared for her. He will not abandon her.
The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. (Psalm 23 NLT)
There will be some people who will try to comfort my friend by telling her that she will be OK, because God will never give her more than she can handle. That is not true. God does give us more than we can handle, and he has given my friend a load that is heavier than any one human could ever carry by him or herself. God does this so that we will learn to rely on him. If we could handle everything, we would not need God. She needs God more than anything else.
If we could handle everything, we would not need God.
My friend knows that it is God alone who will see her through this. God alone will sustain her, and in her weakness, his grace is her strength; she knows this because she has studied God’s Word, and she believes what God says. Now, she will learn that it is true; every single word. God will do exactly what he promises her he will do. It is impossible for God to do otherwise.
Whatever you are going through, God is there for you as well. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He will keep every promise. He is good, and he is at work for your good. Will you seek him? Will you trust him? Will you lean on him? He is who he says he is, and he will do what he promises he will do.