As Christians, we often talk about taking our thoughts captive, having an attitude of gratitude, and focusing on the good things God is doing in our lives. This is all an incredibly important part of our faith walk.
But sometimes I worry that if we are always jumping to the positive side of things, especially right away, we might be missing out on what God has for us in the hard places.
Last week I cleaned out my office, organizing all the books in my closet, and making room for old journals and notebooks. This morning I pulled out the journal I had kept after my miscarriage. I read through an entry from a particularly hard day when it was clear I wasn't pregnant again, my skin was a mess, my clothes didn't fit, my husband was on a road trip, and I felt completely overwhelmed. That night I went to my local women's bible study, and at the end when asked for prayer requests, I broke down crying. I told them everything I had been struggling with, and they didn't try to fix any of it, or try to make me see any kind of silver lining, they simply prayed over me. In my journal I describe a "light heart and smile on my face" as I went to sleep that night.
This is one of my most treasured journals because there is real struggle within the pages. Struggle to understand what was happening, wrestling with God, lament and tears, and eventually a much deeper relationship with the Lord than I had ever had before. I'm so glad I didn't try to "fake it 'til I made it" in that season. (Honestly I don't think I had it in me.) By being real with God and with my trusted friends, my faith grew roots it never would have had otherwise.
God wants us to be real with Him and with each other. If something is painful, tell Him! If you're going through a hard time, confide in a friend who knows Him.
If you read my devotional last week about praying God's Word, this is a perfect situation to do so. I particularly love praying the Message version of the verse above.
God, my heart is broken, but I know you're here. I feel kicked in the gut, please help me catch my breath!
Jesus doesn't expect you to be a perfect happy human all the time. In fact, it's impossible! That's why he came to set us free from the bondage of sin and attempted perfection.
Be joyful, my friends. But also make space for pain and lament. Don't miss out on a deeper relationship with God.