One early morning not many years ago, I stepped over the guard rails on the sixth floor of a hotel in San Diego. The sky dark gray with only a whisper of light from the barely-rising sun, the city still sleeping while I was alone on the pool deck. I had an unobstructed view of the Coronado bridge, symbolic of fear interlaced with pain. Clinging to the rail behind me, I stared hard into the open sky ahead of me and the bow of a bridge that taunted my frail heart. I looked down at the empty sidewalk that lined the fenced-in railroad. It seemed quiet, my ears failed to reach beyond the clamor in my mind. I breathed deep, loosed my grip of the rail and stood there with arms wide open. Nothing in front of me and hardly enough of a platform below me to stand on. Stinging tears ran town my face, a razor in my heart. Facing my own mortality just to feel again. Because here’s the thing. . . You can’t numb the bad without numbing the good. I breathed in deep again. . . The cold air sharp in my lungs. In, out. In, out. Just breathe. The sun transformed the sky into a explosion of orange and pink as it inched above the horizon, and hope pulled me back over the metal barrier.
And recently I have been feeling a bit undone and unraveled and a bit like falling apart. Sometimes the weight of loss, rejection and failure and uncertainty creeps in. . . and I allow it to wash over me. To remember, to recognize, to name, and to let it be. . . to feel is okay. . .and good. . . and Human. No selective numbing. For a moment I will just. Let. It. Be. And I will stay on this side of the ledge because though the sting is still there, I have overcome. And in the midst of each moment I will hear His voice that speaks life, hope, peace. . . His glory – not mine. His will, not mine. Friends, we never walk alone.
Spent this weekend reflecting on His goodness, grace and mercy. . . The kind faithfulness that he shows in unexpected places. They joy He gives so generously. True hope that balms the heart comes from Him alone. He is good, He is good.
Lord, do not let me become so overwhelmed with my imperfections that I become underwhelmed by your perfection.
Recently a close friend of mine was preparing a devotional on gratitude and asked if I would share any insights I might have about gratitude in suffering in relation to some of the things I have walked thru. It was such a great question as it prodded me to do some heart searching, praying and ultimately thanksgiving to God for his great goodness.
Reaching far back and remembering the last few years thru the lens of gratitude. . . I feel that there has been a important link between God’s faithfulness, hope and gratitude for me. I have a hard time separating each of those into their own categories as it seems they have all had a direct effect on one another during that time (and now as well).
This is what my experience was:
God’s Faithfulness (looking into the past, seeing/believing He is faithful) —> Gratitude —> Hope
—> more gratitude —> God’s faithfulness (Seeing/believing in the present)
Gratitude has not come easily but has been essential to walking thru suffering well. . . To coming out on the other side. It was something I’ve had to plea with God for. . . to wrestle with my flesh for. I battled greatly with unbelief. . . That was about the time that I was challenged to read thru the Psalms with red pencil in had underlining truths that speak of His faithfulness. That’s where the heart change started to take place and the “gratitude cycle” began. It’s not that I immediately felt grateful. . .but I was grateful. Does that make sense? . . . sometimes we have to tell our hearts what they need to do. Looking back I think without gratitude in the midst of suffering, I would still be stuck where I was. God used gratitude when I was in a place of utter brokenness as a healing balm.
And you know what is amazing? I look back on those years. . .the most difficult years of my life. . .and there is so much gratitude. And that cycle of seeing God’s faithfulness -> gratitude -> hope starts all over again. He has been faithful to bring me thru what I thought I wouldn’t survive and has used the hard to make me more like Jesus. That’s a lot to be grateful for!
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him.”