Let’s talk about when life gets hard. Not “the barista forgot to add sugar to my latte, it’s raining, I broke a nail and someone pulled out in front of me in traffic” hard but times of paralyzing grief. Times where you can’t go 10 minutes without having a breakdown. Times where you can barely breathe because of the pain, let alone speak. Times when you feel isolated and nothing makes sense. Times where you face loss that shakes you to your core. The Lord recently reminded me of a song that speaks directly to the heart of a grieving person called “Better Than a Hallelujah” by Amy Grant. Here are some lyrics from this song:
“We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah.”
Here is how these lyrics resonate with me: God can handle it. He can handle my mess, and He wants to be invited into it so he can bring healing and restoration. He can handle the honest truth about the pain I am dealing with. He receives my broken cries of “Lord, help,” “Jesus I need you,” “God, why?” and “My heart just hurts” with open arms.
Why does this song speak to the core of my soul right now? Why am I sharing about grief and loss? Because I am in the midst of it. My family recently lost a beloved family member. He was a sweet, loyal four legged friend named Casper. He was the kindest, most loving little guy I have ever met. He greeted any visitor with excitement and kisses, but he loved his family the most. During the first two years of our marriage, we built our little family up, and Casper was an integral part of our unit from day one. When we found out I was pregnant in August, our hearts began to expand to welcome a brand new member to our family. Our sweet pup, Casper, was aware of my pregnancy from early on, and he became more excited and protective of the precious baby in my belly as he grew bigger. Casper allowed no one, not even my husband, to touch the belly without a warning to be gentle. He already loved our sweet baby boy just as much as he loved us. We knew he would be a great big brother if given the chance. Unfortunately, Casper was unexpectedly stolen from us much too soon, and we have both experienced true heartbreak at the devastating loss of our best friend. Our family has experienced an array of hardships over the last year. Casper was something of a rock of joy and faithful companionship to both my husband and I as we navigated these troubled waters. Some may say “he was just a dog,” but he truly was more than just a dog to us, and the loss of his life has been more difficult than I can express with words.
Here is what I am learning in the midst of my pain: God prefers the truth of our pain to a scripted prayer that tries to mask our struggles in false praises or colloquialisms. Our brokenness touches the heart of God, and he meets us where we are. We are not required to pray all of the right words; He sees right to our hearts. When you do not know what to pray, the Spirit prays for you and Jesus intercedes on your behalf! Listen to what scripture has to say about this:
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26
“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:25
Here are three Biblical truths that I am setting my hurting heart on that help me draw close to the Father in my time of need.
The Lord is Close
When painful things happen and as we go through the grieving process, it is easy to feel alone, abandoned and isolated, but the Word promises us that we are not alone: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
The Lord Understands
How do we know our God grieves with us and even more than that, how do we know He can truly understand our heartbreak? This is part of the beauty of the life of Jesus on earth. When Jesus left heavenly perfection to come live a sinless life in our world, he truly became human. Hebrews 4: 15-16 teaches that “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Jesus endured every hardship this world has to offer and more as he suffered death on the cross. He is not insensitive to our pain, and he is not far removed from the heartbreak we suffer. He has grace and mercy to offer us in our time of need because He knows what we are going through.
The Lord Cares
Not only does our God understand, but he also cares. Psalm 56:8 (NLT) tell us that he keeps track of all of our sorrows; He collects all of our tears in a bottle and has recorded each one in His book. Here is The Message paraphrase of that scripture:
“You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn
through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger,
each ache written in your book.”
During the storms of life, I encourage you to draw near to your loving Father in your brokenness, even when you can’t find the words to pray. As I cope with the loss of my best buddy, simple one word prayers are often all I can muster, but I rest on the assurance that my heart’s cry is enough to reach the heart of the Father. I have found that He is there, waiting with open arms like any good dad would for his hurting child.
Abba, my heart hurts. I am devastated, confused and lonely. I need you right now, Jesus. Come bring comfort and peace to my broken heart. In Jesus Name.