Singing "Hallelujah" From the Bottom of the Pit
Good morning and a special hello to all my new and returning readers !
The Sunday Series often focuses on my faith journey, and might appeal to my readers who are believers, however I would still encourage you to continue reading even if you are not a believer! Many of these thoughts apply to general life, and oI of course always always always want to establish that you are welcome here and loved, just as much as my Sister's in Christ.
That being said, let's dive into our topic: worshiping God amidst pain and suffering.
I have vaguely referenced personal pain and difficult times on the blog, and I intend on keeping those details pretty vague. As much as I adore you all, a girl's gotta have a personal life! However I can say that most of my pain and suffering revolves around broken familial relationships, rejection, abandonment, anxiety, depression, and self-hatred.
Sounds like a barrel of fun now doesn't it?
I have learned however that every single person on earth will experience some form of suffering. Sure, some will experience greater suffering than others, but we will all experience a measure. It is part of the human condition, and definitely part of the consequences of sin.
As I like to remind myself, we must not forget that Christians, believers, and the chosen people of God have all, and WILL all experience trials, persecution, and pain. In fact, these little bundles of pain are a guarantee on this broken earth!
The Christian life is NOT the Joel Osteen style life: no. It's a Joseph in the bottom of a pit, Jesus on a cross, or a Paul in prison kind of life. Christians will experience the immense joy and blessing of eternal life, but not without the extreme pain and misery of our sinful world.
As I have seen loved ones go through suffering, and have gone through it myself, I can testify that it is in difficult times and suffering that we as humans tend to turn inward. It is during these times that we start to question our worldview, beliefs, and even our own identities. Suddenly the things that seemed so sure and stable are now up for debate.
It is in the pit when we wonder how a loving God could allow us to suffer, experience pain, or to wallow in our misery while he is more than capable of fixing our problems. We question who God is and how he could allow our pain. We question who we are and why we believe what we do.
Today I cannot and will not answer those existential questions on the validity and nature of God-allowed suffering, but I WILL tell you that it's okay to have those questions.
It's okay to wonder.
It's okay to be angry.
It's okay to question things.
God isn't going to pitch you out of the Kingdom for having doubts. All relationships are filled with questions, doubts, and hard times. Our relationship with God is no different. Release yourself from the guilt you feel for questioning His plan.
The forces of complicated events, traumatic stress, and extreme conflict are all enough for even the sturdiest Christian to begin questioning God. It WAS Jesus who cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" as he was hanging on a cross. Even Jesus was wondering... uh God? Whatcha doing over there?
It's not a sin to question what's happening to you. You're not sinning until you completely turn your back on God, call him a fool, and go worship something else.
If you're lamenting, expressing your pain, and feeling the despair of being in the pit, then you are merely doing what MANY other strong and noble believers have done since theDAWN of time!
God often has us do and experience so many wacky and questionable things throughout our life that it would almost be nonsensical to not look at him with a questioning look or send up a complaint every once in awhile.
You can lament to the heavens and STILL have respect, honor, and reverence for God. David, Solomon, Peter, Jesus, Job, Joseph, Ruth, and SO many more Biblical success stories experienced time in the pit where they TOLD God how they felt. This is okay.
So that's step one: pull a "Job" and openly talk about your pain. Tell God how you feel. Express the sorrow, grief, and frustration.
Next, CHOOSE to worship him.
This might be SO weird to you, but hear me out.
A reverent voice worshiping God from the pit is worth ten thousand voices worshiping him from the mountaintop. When our faith is being tested to its limits and we STILL choose God, we are showing an incredible act of faith. By worshiping him, recognizing his glory, majesty, and infinite wisdom, even when we do not understand or fathom what he is doing, we are expressing our complete trust in him as Lord over our lives.
When we cry out to Him in pain but finish it off with a "yet I will praise you," we are putting immense faith in the reality that is God. It is through this worship that we can reclaim our faith, put out the doubts, and firmly set our identity in Christ.
If we only find our identity in Christ while we are in a cushy set of life circumstances, then we have not truly expressed true faith. God will use times of pain to test our faith and build it stronger. Allow Him to do this in your life: don't give up on Him in the hard times.
I remember one night, after an extremely horrible fight with my parents, I went out for a drive. I had tears streaming down my face and it felt like my world was crashing down. Suddenly, I found myself singing the song, "you're a good good Father, it's who you are, it's who you are, and I'm loved by you, it's who I am, it's who I am."
I remember this detail because at that time in 2016, everyone was SO sick of hearing "Good Good Father" playing everywhere all the time, but to me, it reminded me that my Father in Heaven was GOOD, and He knew what He was doing with my life. It reminded me that I was loved by Him, and at the end of the day that's all that mattered.
So in your pain, remember His goodness. Remember who He is. It's possible to be angry with Him and still accept that He is good and He is working towards YOUR good.
So in your anger, praise him, then finally, turn your mind and heart towards heaven.
Again, this may sound strange, but my belief, faith, and hope for eternal life with Christ is one of the only things that pulled me out of my painful suffering and depression. It often seems to me that the tangled web of sin and conflict will never be solved on earth, but I hold fast to the hope and belief that I will be reunited with my family in Heaven, where our sins will be washed away.
Too often we as Christians, myself included, get caught up in earthly things, including our earthly pain. We wait for earthly solutions, earthly reconciliations, and earthly peace. But we are living on a sinful and broken earth full of the sinful free will of men. Not all relationships, problems, or suffering will be resolved and made right on earth, but we have the hope and truth that they will be resolved in Heaven.
This is not an oversight made by God, no. He allows this pain and suffering, but has also prepared a place for us in Heaven free from all of this earthly pain.
We have access to this heavenly promise through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, and that is why even in the midst of our suffering, we must remember who paid the price for ALL our suffering: Jesus.
This is why we sing,"Oh what a Savior, isn't he wonderful. Sing Hallelujah, Christ is risen!" At the end of the day, no matter what suffering you are experiencing, if you believe in God and accept His forgiveness, you have access to eternal life through Christ.
This truth, that Christ is risen, is enough reason to celebrate, even amongst our pain. Because there is truly nothing worse than the prospect of being separated from God for eternity, but we were saved from that by the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.
So at the end of the day, while you are in your pit, angry at God, and trying to praise Him, remember that Christ is risen.
When my family imploded, CHRIST WAS RISEN.
When my friends ditched me, CHRIST WAS RISEN.
When my heart was broken, CHRIST WAS RISEN.
This truth is why we worship. It is why we live, it is why we breathe, and it is why we have our new life. Despite anything in our lives, the truth that Christ is risen is enough to shrink any pain, suffering, or destruction.
Death, pain, suffering, and trials will continue to happen after I die, but the truth that Christ is risen will live on forever. I will live on forever.
It is in eternal life where we will discover the lost family members we miss so dearly. It is in heaven when we will live fully with God, free from sickness and free from heartbreak. It is in heaven where we will be completely safe from any pits of darkness or bouts of trial. It is in heaven where all our pain will wash away.
And this is why, no matter what painful thing has happened to me, I still find myself singing, "You're a good good Father." I have hope, I am loved, and I will live an eternal life.
In my darkest moments, I have heard the spirit within my soul saying the words I will repeat day and night: "lean not on your own understanding, but in all of your ways, trust in Him, and He will make your paths straight."
There is power in the worshipful word uttered from the bottom of the pit. There is power in the obedient servant, worshiping and loving from the depths of prison or in the face of mockers. There is beauty and grace reserved for those who seek out the Lord and his gentle spirit despite the suffering, lack, and pain they are going through.
This resilience does not come from within me: it comes from the Spirit within me. The Spirit of God is the only reason I am writing these words to you right now. The Spirit of God is the same spirit that is in Christ Jesus, and it unites us together in an eternal bond with Him.
Today I encourage you, if you are at the bottom of a pit like Joseph, Isaiah, Elijah, or David, utter a word of praise. Unite with God in the truth that CHRIST IS RISEN, and remember that the amount of suffering you are experiencing on earth today is nothing compared to the blessing of eternal life with Christ, free from sin, despair, and darkness.
Out of this immense faith in the Lord you will find incredible intimacy with God and great blessings in your future. You will have run the race swiftly and steadfastly towards God, and you will be rewarded. This is a Biblical promise.
Being a blessed child of God is not a guarantee for a happy pain free life: it is however, a guarantee of eternal life. With a mindset focused on the eternal, not the temporal, we can begin to tap into that strength, grace, and blessing that only comes from a true recognition of the greatness, grace, and mercy of God.
I cannot stop your suffering, nor can I explain it, but I will pray for you, and encourage you to utter, even a single word of praise, to God from the bottom of your pit.
He hears you, He sees you, and He loves you. Your faith and trust in Him despite your circumstances will surely not go unnoticed.