By Kay Hardin, Senior Staff Chaplain, Baptist Health Medical Center-North Little Rock
“Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.” –– Thomas Moore
This could come across as an empty statement when we are in grief. Sometimes we may find ourselves in a colossal spiritual battle where the “Big 3” — going to church, reading the Bible, and praying — seem remote and exhausting.
Should we feel guilty and ashamed, even give up, when we hit a spiritual wall? Is God impatient and annoyed with us because we are spiritually wavering and waffling through our grief? The answer is a strong “NO.” Jesus declared: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).
God knows that life is hard, loss can be unbearable, and hearing God in the midst of it all can feel impossible. So if we don’t walk away from God during one of the hardest times of our life, how do we walk with him when we are so depleted in every way? Following are a few ideas on how to have faith when life hurts.
When our hearts have been crushed, our prayers often shrink to little phrases like “Please help,” “Heal him,” “Touch her,” “Be with me.” In our emotional and spiritual exhaustion, small snippets of prayer are all we can do. Matthew 7:7 tells us that God adores our pint-sized asking, seeking, and knocking prayers over and again. We don’t bug God with our continual, little prayers. We bless him with them. One way to have faith when life hurts is to keep knocking at God’s door with all our tiny prayers because he loves that.
Come to the Table
“God doesn’t want to hear from me. I am way too angry!” Just the opposite is true. God said in Isaiah 1:18 “Come now and let us reason together…” I envision God sitting at a table with the other chair opposite of him pulled out for me to sit in so that we can talk things through. No matter my attitude, emotion, or state of mind, the invitation is to meet together and work it out. I can come mad, sad, or silent as the falling snow. Just show up. One way to have faith when life hurts is to be all of who you are with all of who God is.
Sleep on the Sofa
I love to “think” on the sofa (that’s code for napping, although I actually do start out thinking). But when grief ambushed my heart years ago, the only thing I could do was come home from work and lie down on the sofa under my great-grandmother’s handmade quilt in the silence of the house. I did that night after night, weekend after weekend.
Guess who blazed that path of faith — the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19. After one of his deepest times of disappointment and depression, Elijah went to the wilderness, laid down under a scrubby little tree, and fell asleep in his hopelessness. He slept, awoke, and ate, slept some more and ate some more until he was strong enough to get up and hear God speak hope, provision, and new vision into his life. Sometimes sofa-sleeping, comfort food, and quiet listening is a holy way to have faith when life hurts.
Get Under the Umbrella
Have you ever been stuck somewhere without an umbrella while it’s raining buckets? I’ve been rescued several times by a friend as we held on to our one umbrella laughing all the way to our cars while our shoes filled up with water. But the worst is when it rains down heartache without end.
You can’t stop the numerous troubles just like you can’t stop the rain, but you can get under God’s “umbrella,” his refuge of protection and coverage. Run to God our refuge. Hide in the cleft of his rock. Psalms 34:18 affirms: “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.”
One way to have faith when life hurts is to run to God for cover and let him snug you up right next to him until the storms pass.
Someone said: “Grief never ends, but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness or a lack of faith. It is the price of love.” That’s a beautiful truth for all who walk this journey of grief toward healing and wholeness.