Friends, have you ever had those seasons in your life when you just feel like giving up? I mean really, and truly throwing up your hands and saying “that’s it, I am through“. My guess is that many of you have been in those seasons, and quite possibly many of you are feeling that exact way right now. You know what I am talking about, those seasons where everything seems to be going exactly the opposite of what you expected. One let down after another let down soon seem like you are just in a waterfall of let downs and can’t seem to find your way up for air.
I have been finding lately that a lot of people around me are currently in this season. A season when life doesn’t go according to plan. A season that truly hurts. By the end of this blog post I am hoping to do my best to answer the question of: “how to trust again when life hurts.”
I want to start by saying this post was almost fully inspired by a recent sermon at my church, Vintage Church LA by our head pastor, Ger Jones. You can listen to this AMAZING sermon here(I highly recommend it!). Ger started his sermon by asking the church, “How do you not give up, when God doesn’t show up?” Phew. He said this line and the pit of my stomach instantly dropped. He continued on by saying, “You may have been in seasons of your life where you have questioned, why isn’t God delivering me? Why isn’t God answering my prayers? If God loves me, WHY isn’t her delivering me?”
Do you find yourself sometimes feeling this exact same way, friends? Have you had hopes and dreams for the future that have all come crumbling down? Are you dealing with a slew of medical issues that seem endless and sometimes hopeless? Are you grieving from the death of a loved one, or from an extreme heartbreak that doesn’t make sense? Do you feel like every door at work keeps closing, and your path is stagnant and bleak? Do you feel so lonely that the whole of your heart aches? If you answered yes to any one of these questions (or more), then this message today is for you.
Don’t FAKE it…EMBRACE it
It’s true life can be SO incredibly, and painfully difficult. It can hurt a heck of a lot sometimes. Let’s be real, it is hard to not question ourselves, others, and even God when life gets so complex and out of whack, isn’t it? Well today, I want you to know something very pertinent when it comes to building back trust in the midst of these seasons. It’s okay to be honest about the confusion. It’s okay to be honest about your doubt in this season. I love how Ger said, “Be honest, Don’t fake it. Embrace the doubts.” He simply put it SO clearly. Don’t fake it, instead embrace it.
Sometimes we are afraid to admit that we are going through a season of questioning. We don’t want to appear weak, and are afraid of what other people may think (especially in church!). This, my friends, is plain and simply what I like to call counterfeit thinking. Or rather unhealthy thoughts that come to tell you lies about who you are and what you believe about yourself.
We must (with everything in us) fight to recognize counterfeit thoughts and fears and choose to instead embrace the status of our current confusion, humbly and fully. While easier said than done (this I know), I promise you that the only way you will be able to conquer your doubts and your fears is by being honest about them. Don’t feel like you have to end every sentence with something positive. I am SO guilty of this at times by too often saying, “I am going through a hard season…“, pause, “….errr, but you know it’s fine because God is good.” Goshhhhhh how many of you find yourself doing this? We say these things to to soften the blow by covering it up with something good, or for the sake of saying the right thing in front of others, but we have got to stop shaming ourselves and instead start being humbly honest.
If you are at all experiencing a fear of shame I want to ask you something right now. Can you recount anywhere in the bible where Jesus is awkward or shames someone when they are doubting? That would be a negative, Sherlock! Indeed to Ger’s point it seems, “We don’t have a theology for doubt, we only have a theology for victory so we don’t know what to do when someone is going through a rough time with their faith”. This thought really stirred in my heart. As a community, as friends, as family, as brothers and sisters we should never shame someone for doubting. We also should not immediately resolve to “comforting” them with correction. Too often these are our go to methods, are they not? “Jesus says, I will never push you away”.
So right now I have two charges for you!
- If you are finding it difficult to trust because life hurts and is a whirlwind of confusion, I encourage you to be honest about it. Embrace it and look it directly in the face. Have a stare down with it. Do anything but hide from it.
- On the flip side, if someone in your life approaches you about their doubts or confusion, do not shame them or immediately try to correct them. Instead, come alongside them. Sit in it with them and do everything you can to be a loving friend to them in this season. Correcting them or shaming them won’t serve them, but meeting them exactly where they are will.
LOOK AT JESUS
That’s right friends. I am unashamedly a lover of Jesus up here on this blog, but before you click off this page, I want you to know that I by no means am trying to force any of you to believe in all the goodness that comes in believing He was the son of God. Instead, I just humbly share that my life is SO radically different because I recognize the power of WHO HE IS and WHAT HE STOOD FOR. Boom.
If you are going through a season of true pain and confusion I can tell you right now, I don’t know why things are not going as you thought they would…. BUT, what I do know is that God is still good in the midst of the hurt and confusion, fears and doubts. How do I know? Well, simply put, His love is so miraculously greater than ANYTHING we could ever imagine. It is already evidenced clearly through experiencing that in so many areas of our lives already. But if that isn’t enough, then all we have to do is look at the picture of Jesus. God stepped into our world through an actual human man, through JESUS! He suffered, endured endless hardship and questioning, and died… FOR US. There is NO greater picture of love that that. He came to be with us to show us He is always here for us and that He loves us.
Indeed, it’s true, He is right there beside us. Even when we think He’s gone, He’s still working it all out for good… sometimes just incognito style 😉
God doesn’t always promise to give us all the answers to everything. But what He does promise is that His will for us is good, and that He loves us with an everlasting love. I love this quote by the amazing Tim Keller, that Ger referenced in his sermon.
“If we again ask the question: ‘Why does God allow evil and suffering to continue?’ and we look at the cross of Jesus, we still do not know what the answer is. However, we now know what the answer isn’t. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us. It can’t be that he is indifferent or detached from our condition. God takes misery so seriously that he was willing to take it on himself.” – Tim Keller
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
Last, but definitely not least, even in the midst of embracing our confusion when it feels weary and slim, today I want you to believe that because of the picture of Jesus, we can look to the future with HOPE!!!! THIS IS THE BEST NEWS EVER… isnt’ it?!?! I know it may seem so difficult to see that right now in the season you are in, so I am in no way here to say you HAVE to feel that way this very moment. I just want you to know instead, that this hope, a hope for the future IS accessible to you when you’re ready for it.
Friends, there is something beautifully amazing awaiting you after this messy season of hurt. Surely right now in the confusion you may want to throw your hands up and scream, wishing for it to all end. But alas, as Pastor Ger says, “There is a STORY he is telling. There is a drama unfolding. There is an outpouring of His victory….but it is not going to come ALL at once.” Friends, it is coming.
A few last notes that I’d love for you to hold onto today.
- You are NOT a failure. Despite what is going on around you right now, it is not all because of you.
- You are SOO, so very loved. Even when it is hard to believe sometimes, you are loved. Even when you shun and reject the love, you are loved anyway. Always and forever.
- Your journey is so precious. The highs and lows, the peaks and the valleys…every. single. part of your journey is truly part of an irreplaceable part of a remarkable story.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
“ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you..” 1 Peter 1:3-4
“We will only stay strong and secure through whatever happens in our life when we are looking forward to the future ahead” – Ger Jones
Photos by the amazing Stefanie Mariee