As I write this, I hesitate. I have felt a pressing on my heart to share how God is working through my current season, but yet I struggle. You see, I have no resolution to offer you here. I write this in the midst of a trial. I write this while walking through an emotional hardship that has left me confused and weary.
Without laying out the sordid details, I feel as though God has cracked open a proverbial “can of worms,” and now I’m left in the mess, asking now what? Among many other circling emotions, this season has been painful.
Some of you are in a similar situation. A season of pain or trial that’s hard to make sense of. I can’t imagine God would call me to write this if some of you holding this magazine were not walking through hardship. So now, I ask myself what would God have me pass on to you. Aren’t you supposed to have a profound ending that offers comfort and hope and connects the dots before you write something like this?
After sitting with this for a while, I think it’s significant that I write in this context. Because of this, I am uniquely and deeply burdened for you to know that God is ever present in your pain. The struggle that we experience in this life is not devoid of purpose. The Bible tells us that through trial our faith is made steadfast. This means that God shows up in such a way during hardship, that when we cling to Him, our faith is actually stirred up and made stronger. While I have not had closure in my own struggle, what I have experienced is a closeness with the Lord that would not have been possible otherwise. Even in the midst of all these broken pieces, God has stood firm. He hasn’t changed. He has never ceased to be God. As my foundations have grown shaky, my faith has been made firm. I have seen James 1:3 fulfilled in my life.
”for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:3)
You must know, that this truth does not take all of my pain away. As I write this, my hands are shaky, my eyes are wet, my heart hurts, I don’t know my next step. I write this to you from the trenches. I’m calling out to you in your own battle—shouting God’s presence, proclaiming His goodness, claiming His promises for the both of us. I have an image in my head of us, dressed for battle, crouched down in our shelters, bombs going off, bullets flying above our heads—we’re dirty, we’re scared, we’re tired. I see you through the dirt flying and the smoke. I see you crouched in your place. I’m yelling above the noise, I am crying out the promises of God. He is with you! Do not fear! In our place, God has stood in battle—and we know the end of the story. One day every tear will be wiped from our eyes and the pain we feel will be no more. Everything sad will come untrue and we will stand together as the people of God. Our hope rests not in our own ability to fight our battle, but in the victory that was already won. We fight from that victory, not for it. That changes everything.
Charles Spurgeon famously writes: “I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages”
Sisters, I would never wish harm to any of us. I would never wish us into a battle. However, as painful as life can be, sometimes through tears, I find myself thanking God for this struggle. You see, the closer I get to Him, the more desperate I am for His presence. The more I taste, the hungrier I become. Through trial my worship has become deeper. How sweet it is to sing of my God’s goodness when I know it firsthand. How blessed I feel to be so close to my Savior. This closeness wouldn’t have come without my hurt.
I know some of you might think I don’t know what you’re going through. And that’s true. But God knows. God sees. More than that, He is intimately involved in your life. He is closer than you can imagine, even when your circumstances seem otherwise.
My prayer for you is that you would press in today. Pour your heart out to God and remember that He is always with you. He is close to the brokenhearted. There is purpose for our pain. From my trench to yours.
By Bethany Mathis
Originally published in Be Still Magazine, issue 7.