Feb
19

Living Well When Life Hurts

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Life can be full of happiness. We ride the waves of happiness when things are going well. But how do we live well when life hurts? When we lose our job? Our child is sick? We are financially strapped? Our body is full of aches and pains? Our heart is broken? We are betrayed by someone we love? We fail that test at school?
 
God’s design for our lives is pictured in the beginning (Genesis 1). Before sin entered, man and woman lived full of purpose with no sickness, no emotional pain, no lack of provision, no failure. Sin came and the consequences of sin roared into life. Broken relationships, separation from God, pain, sickness, the struggle to survive.
 
Christ came and redeemed us from the curse of sin (Galatians 3:13). Ultimately all of the power of the curse will be broken and we will live once again in the fullness of God’s design (Revelation 21:4; Revelation 22:3-5).
 
In the meantime, we find ourselves on the way to where we’re going. We experience redemption and breakthrough in an area or multiple areas, but we are not yet living in the fullness of the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21). We sometimes refer to this as the “Already and not yet redemption”. We are already redeemed from the curse of sin in relation to our eternal salvation and we are not yet completely redeemed from the curse of sin in our world, our physical bodies, our emotional lives, etc.
 
We know and believe the full restoration is coming. We can smell it in the air. We can almost touch it. We experience it in many ways.
And then we are slammed by pain and difficulty again.
 
God doesn’t cause these painful circumstances. They are brought by our own sinfulness or the sinfulness of others or often they are ushered into our lives through the fallenness of our world.
 
Tough times can tempt us to shake our fist in God’s face, blaming Him for things for which He is not responsible. Or perhaps we don’t blame Him but we feel abandoned by Him, questioning why He has not already delivered us from our pain. Perhaps worse yet, we live behind religious clichés and refuse to face truth, afraid to wrestle with God honestly to find the answers or to find peace to live without answers.
 
Living well when life hurts is not easy. Maintaining our peace when we are in a storm is no piece of cake. Connecting with joy when we are not happy (for happiness and joy are two very different things) can seem impossible.
 
In those times, God invites to know His heart more deeply, to lean into his grace more fully. Crisis can cause our personal issues to come out of the grave, so to speak, for they are not really completely dead yet. They are sometimes just buried alive.  And as our struggles become visible to our own hearts (for God knew they were there all the time), it’s as if God says, “Okay, now, let’s work on that.”
 
So when difficulty strikes and everything inside us that is not like God is exposed, God invites us into deeper places of healing. More wholeness. Fuller restoration of our souls. The process of our being shaken leads to greater fruitfulness (Hebrews 12:27).
 
We come face to face with what it means to live through Saturday. The day between Jesus being crucified and the day he was resurrected. The day when it seems that God is not responding. The day when all seems dark.
 
The in-between times. The time between some painful event and God’s resolution of that pain.
 
Staying anchored in thankfulness during dark times is one tool we can use to live well when life hurts.
 
Running for his life, David responded, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Psalm 34:1) David, God’s chosen, a man after God’s own heart, found himself in trying times more than once. Sometimes David’s dark days were of his own doing; at other times, they were brought at the hand of his enemies. David’s honest dialogue with God included both his wrestling with God for answers and his praise and thankfulness.
 
Paul, chosen by God to write most of the New Testament, spoke of his suffering in 2 Corinthians 11:23-31. Almost beyond our comprehension, Paul wrote Philippians from prison and spoke repeatedly of joy and thankfulness.
 
Our faith beckons us to trust when we don’t understand, when we can’t see (Hebrews 11:1). Praise and thanksgiving can take us to a place where “I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory" and offer a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15) during what seems to be a Saturday season.
 
Sometimes we have to claw our way out of the darkness. At times, I have begun such a journey by simply thanking God for the roof over my head, the bed I lie on, my hands, my feet, the warm water in my house, the dishes my kids have dirtied, the washer and dryer I have to clean the piles of laundry that sometimes overwhelm me, the air I breathe, etc.
 
And the grace of God comes, not always changing my circumstances but changing me in my circumstances. Or maybe I should say that I access the grace of God that is always there.
 
If it feels as if you are living a Saturday life, would you take a moment to be thankful for the good things in your life right in the middle of your Saturday? 
 
 

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