Do you ever have those weeks, months, or even years in which you just yearn to catch your breath? To get a break from the hardship? When you cry out to your Father, “Lord, I am tired of this struggle, this suffering, and battling these circumstances”? You know he is a Good Father—you do. It’s just heavy and hard with no reprieve.
We miscarried in 2016, and again this summer. My body didn’t heal as we thought it would, and we received the expected news that we would need to see specialists (with lengthy waiting lists) before our chance to hear any answers or think about next steps. I am still very much in the middle of walking this long season, often in tears at his feet over how big this all feels.
The logical girl in me wants to believe the lie that if I do this or that, I can navigate my way around the circumstances and handle the weight of this suffering. I fall into the trap of trying to figure how to make it look the “best,” to show only the appropriate number of cracks of hardship as a business owner. I look to practical solutions like finding the best ten ways to meal plan, or turn up my research game to discover ways to make life simpler. And when I get caught up in the strategizing, I’m right where the enemy wants me in my own pain, believing the lie that in my own strength I can.
”But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)
The truth is, momma, we don’t have to figure out how to carry suffering on our own, because we weren’t built to! The verse above is where I need to go first, by his grace, rather than solution-searching and strategizing in my own strength. His loving heart protects us from having to be self-sufficient because his provision is all we need. And that provision is better than anything else we can put together.
Though I admit my sufferings are hard to see as provision (especially as this season marked by suffering lengthens), I do know that they bring me to him. I’m often ashamed at the amount of questioning, emotions, and frustrations that plague me in a season of suffering, and have learned the importance of having other women encourage me to sit in silence and let it all out to him first, rather than offering a “quick fix” or slapping on a verse out of context like a band-aid to try to numb the hurt.
Can we encourage each other that in Christ we are free to grieve and to feel in seasons of pain, suffering, and hurt without being spiritual failures? Can we remind each other that the grace that saves us is the same grace that sustains us, and we aren’t fixed by our effort? Christ has done more on our behalf than we could ever achieve in our striving. And his promises to the sufferer are rich indeed. He promises that he is with us in our pain, he promises us comfort, but he also promises that he will one day return to eradicate it finally and forever.
”He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 NIV)
The word “pain” in this verse in the Greek is ponos. The first definition of ponos listed in the Blue Letter Bible app is “great trouble; intense desire.”
Y’all, this definition brought me to tears. It spoke to the exact feelings in my heart, as I often feel like others don’t get my pain. Do you feel that way? This is proof he knows and sees us. And he has gone to great lengths to redeem our current experience and prepare a place for us where we will never know that feeling of great trouble or intense desire again.
The holiday season can often put the places of that particular pain at the forefront. We long to feel cheerful, happy, and jolly but sometimes the traditions and family events are just more of a reminder of who is missing or wanted there: the babies in heaven, the child, parent, or friend who was there last Christmas and not this one, or perhaps just the way we once imagined things would be.
The season of suffering I am walking through often feels eternal. But Scripture tells us that as deep and long-lasting as our pain and suffering may feel, compared to the eternal weight of glory Christ came to offer us, it is "light and momentary" (2 Cor. 4:17). Those words felt dismissive and even cheap to me when I first heard them, but they aren't meant to make us feel overlooked; they are meant to offer us perspective, calling us to see that the God who is intimately concerned with our pain sent his own Son to experience excruciating pain himself, to ensure that our eternity won't look a thing like our present painful season. That is the hope we cling to. And when our hands feel so tired, cracked, and bleeding from trying to hang on that we feel like letting go, he holds us.
Holidays often hold markers that cause us to wonder what life might have looked like without the brand of suffering we’ve experienced. I know things like receiving Christmas cards or attending family get-togethers can be so challenging when you are hurting. I see your pain and suffering, but more importantly, our Lord does. You may feel you’re too much, but he does not grow weary. Though he hasn’t taken you out of this painful place, he sees, he knows, and he is at work within it—working for your good and for his own glory.
We have a known in our unknowns. At Christmas we celebrate the beginning to our forever in Christ. Even if we cannot see what he is currently working within us, or make sense of our current suffering, we can know the certain end of our story because of the finished work of Jesus.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:17 NIV)
This hope is the anchor to our souls in every season.
Christ is the victory and the absolute. Christ came for us, humbled himself for each of us—a gift we can’t even begin to fathom. By his life, death, and resurrection, he secured for us the promise that life with him doesn’t end here; one day we will live in a place forever with him that is free from any kind of pain or tears.
Momma, I don’t know what your suffering looks like today. Whether it is current and long-lasting or just finished. But the hope Christ offers us in the midst of suffering is the same. Will you join me this holiday season in “working the muscles” of speaking the truth of who he is and what he has done over your heart? Take your overwhelming heavy load to his feet for renewal and strength each day this Advent. And receive there the comfort of his presence and power now with you, and his promise of redemption, renewal, and rescue from sorrow in the world to come.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION/ APPLICATION:
In what way are you currently experiencing suffering? Perhaps you are walking through a difficult circumstance with someone close to you? Perhaps it is your own? What questions and anxieties have arisen for you during this time?
How does the coming of Christ offer us help as we presently experience suffering and hope as we imagine our certain future with him?
How have you seen the faithfulness of the Lord in your life or those around you even amidst suffering? What can you do practically to walk through your current season remembering his goodness?
Gina Zeidler is a Wedding and Lifestyle Photographer + Encouragement Enthusiast. When not behind a camera or chasing her toddler around, Gina leads with a big heart and there’s nothing she loves more than uplifting women and their families in every season of their life. When she’s not capturing images you’ll find her sipping kombuchas by the lake in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. There’s nothing that lights her up more than sparking up a conversation about Jesus, business, faith, family, and living real life with her husband and little one.