My favorite artist, Matt Potosky, recently came out of retirement again to hit us with a picture that hurts. As we journey through life together, I don’t always like what hits my fan, but I know that God is with us, and He doesn’t waste a hurt. We usually lose perspective when life hits the fan, but some of our most character-building changes occur as we deal with pain and as the Lord is helping and healing us. God allows us to go through unexpected things that hit us, and He sends us some unlikely characters to comfort and help us when all we feel is pain.
As you look back over the last year, what hit you and changed everything? An illness? A job loss? A health crisis? A relationship blow-up? A boss or co-worker that made your life impossible?
A financial crisis? A loss that keeps getting worse? A death that makes it hard to go on? A family member in crisis? A division that broke a relationship, your workplace, or your church? A friend who no longer speaks to you. A spouse who walked out? A child who won’t talk with you? Someone who hurt so much that they quit and is no longer here? Chronic pain?
While some of us are still recovering from what already hit us, others wonder what will hit them next. Fear and anxiety can be debilitating. People and systems that bully us hit us with pain and panic that can wipe us out. If you’ve lost a loved one, you wonder which one will we lose next? If we’re in abusive relationships or workplaces, we don’t always have safe people or places to hide.
Being around dysregulated people and systems can be terrifying. And just slapping on a Bible verse doesn’t protect us from the next unexpected explosion. If you’ve been hit with something that rocked your world, what do you do?
We find out a lot about ourselves and those around us when life hits the fan. What’s your reflex when you encounter something painful that you never expected to hit your fan? Do you blow up? Do you shut down? Do you blame God, yourself, or others? Do you try to figure out what it happened? Do you analyze everything trying to figure out what to do? Do you turn inward. Do you reach out for help? Do you pray? What do you pray? Do you worry? Do you cry? Do you allow yourself to feel and share your pain with those who care about you? Does your faith inform your response? Do you turn to an addiction to cope or to numb your pain?
I can honestly say that I’ve grown the most in life when I’ve gone through the worst circumstances. When I’ve been deeply hurt by people who do and don’t care about me, I’ve been changed. Some seasons of my life it was for the worst. Other seasons God used the pain or losses to take me deeper into Him and places where I’ve experienced Jesus’ help and healing. What’s been most amazing is that Jesus understands pain like no one else. He was so brutally beaten and abused and despised and rejected that He deeply identifies with me and carries me through the pain—even when it doesn’t go away. Sometimes it’s taken years to see good coming from my pain. Sometimes it never goes away.
I’ve learned some very important lessons from some very pain-inflicting people and processes. I’ve learned many crucial lessons that changed me from my mistakes and my poor judgment when going through conflict and crises. Learning the hard way is a tough way to learn. Sometimes we have to, and it’s the only way for God to break us and change us for the good.
What’s most remarkable are the roots that keep growing deeper and stronger when I keep getting hit with the unexpected and it hasn’t gone away. I’ve discovered and know that Jesus loves me period. His love anchors and sustains me. My biblical roots anchor my perspective the older that I get. God’s Word has become the thoughts and words and perspectives that I have and share and pray. God’s words and ways bring me hope, life, peace, and perspective when life isn’t going my way. I may bellyache for a while until a dear friend pulls me out of my negativity or prays me back to remember what I forget when I’m hurting or angry or scared. I’ve also learned to how amazing my family and my friends are and how much they help me when I’m not okay. I’ve also learned that when I’m going through hard times, it helps to reach out and to help others to lighten their load. In doing so, my load gets lightened.
The worst thing you can do when you get hit is to pretend that you didn’t get hit or that it didn’t hurt. People can only help you when you let them know that you’re hurting and that you need help. It’s amazing what God can do through His loving children when we are vulnerable and share our pain and problems with trustworthy people. I can only help people to the extend that they let me know what they’re going through. Sometimes I can’t get myself out of a bad situation until everyone around me gives me their courage, faith, and permission to leave and to change what I can change. Sometimes I need to borrow their faith when mine has run out.
Whatever pain and problems you’re experiencing, I want you to know that I care. I want to encourage you with the truth that God is with you. He created you in His likeness and He’s familiar with bitterest grief. He took your pain and problems and sin upon Himself to forgive, heal, restore, and free you. When you can’t go on anymore, Jesus will carry you through.
“I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”