Tuesday, April 20, 2010

When God strips away

Yesterday I fell into a black hole of heavy despair that I haven't felt in a long while. Though I'm still trying to debrief and understand what happened, one thing is clear: it was a revelation of the deep painful emptiness that exists when "what I rely on" is stripped away. In this instance it involves losing hope of ever having an identity built on the affirmation of others. Words fail to describe the dimensions of pain and darkness that I experienced (and may again). Just saying that "God is weaning me from false comforts" doesn't do the experience justice, nor would I wish the experience on anyone.

Sometimes this stripping away is merely a noticeable inconvenience. A twinge of pain and guilt after being hurt by anothers comments; a compulsion to appear wise and spiritual to others so that they will love me, an nervous awareness of how much I want to be liked when in a group, etc. Other times it pushes me to the borders of insanity, a darkness and heaviness so great that I feel like I will surely be destroyed by it. Graciously, this latter, more intense form is not very common. After yesterdays "waves" crashed over me, I felt strangely peaceful, like a countryside after extreme weather crashes through; there is often a peaceful sunbreak with a sense of freshness. I have hope that yesterday's storm accomplished something in the kingdom; that there are a limited number of such waves to come my way in my lifetime as I fight for satisfaction in God above all other things.

Hopefully, I will not speak so flippantly about God "stripping away" our comforts, for it can be a wholly terrifying experience.

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Grandma said...

Yes, a truly terrifying experience, and not always easily submitted to. In recent months I have had to face losing my autistic husband to cancer, giving up our home and the companionship of good friends,moving to a new area, moving church, making a new home on my own, and very recently, retiring from full-time work I enjoyed for 41 years. Each loss has been achingly painful, grievous. Today, I learned my only child and her husband and my 2 young grandsons are moving away. They are in full-time Christian ministry, we are all committed to following Jesus, I have found great solace and renewed strength in being with them and their church since being widowed. In my 60s, a carer for my brother with long-term mental illness, a sister and brother-in-law with cancer, and an increasingly fragile mum in her late 80s, I am tempted to despair at losing what has been my only source of support - my daughter and family. I love the Lord, am grateful for His faithfulness to me over many difficult years, I cannot see why or how this latest 'stripping away' could be of benefit to anyone, least of all to me. But He knows, and He cares, and I pray that I will not grieve Him as I face this next and most difficult of trials. Thank you for posting your blog, it has helped me feel less alone.

Scott said...

Grandma, my heart breaks as you share your losses with me. I am honored that you would open up and share with me and anyone else who might read this. I'm convinced that each person's suffering, each person's story of losses is sacred and unique, not to be compared to anyone else. Thank you.

This gives us particular hope, I think, in that Jesus has a singular presence within our unique and particular sufferings. His wounds provide infinite space for our long litany of sufferings to find ample room for whatever story they need to tell. May you and I cling to him, who truly is our only hope!

That said, I don't understand either, why the Lord would do things this way with you. We have to, at times, resist the temptation to "learn the lesson" or "find the message" in our sufferings, which often are just masked attempts to tie up loose threads that may not be ready to be tied up. Our outcomes, all of them, have to rest in his good hands in order for us to have any real hope in dark places.

I frequent this Psalm in my mind, may it bring hope to you as well:

My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me. (Psalm 63:8 ESV)

Anonymous said...

I've been stripped 3 years from my husband my house my family my friends even my children now I'm stripped from a job it seems like for me paying the rent that I just got an apartment last month I don't understand what this would be as good to us I know God knows but it is the most uncomfortable the scariest place I've ever been in my life as I am here all by myself with nobody around me just me and God and my little dog and my little dog does depend on me to take care of her God understands that I hope

Scott said...

I'm so sorry for your pain!

May The Lord break through to your heart in unexpected ways;

Don't try to walk this alone; get to a community of disciples of Jesus who can walk with you and pray for you

Lord, have mercy