In the opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens may aptly be describing either the storm you’ve recently weathered, the one overwhelming you now, or the one headed your way. See what you think:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity [unbelief], it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”
Sound familiar? Have you ever floundered in seasons of either foolishness, doubt, darkness, despair, discouragement, or even uncertainty about your final destination? What about all of them in the same year? I’ve finally learned that the heaviest of stones when properly stacked make a mighty fine altar!
Many years ago, I had two friends at two different seasons of my life who often walked through difficult seasons. Every wrong thing you could possibly say with a sincere, eager-to-help heart came out of my mouth:
- “You have so much to be thankful for; why are you depressed?”
- “Just think about something else.”
- “Maybe you need to read your Bible more.”
- “Snap out of it!”
- “You can’t do anything about that now. Just get over it!”
If you’ve read the story of Job you know that the very best thing his well-meaning friends did was to merely sit with him in his misery for seven days. Their intent was to sympathize and comfort him, but as soon as they opened their mouths they blew it. They accused him and his children of unconfessed sin and claimed to be speaking for God. Job described them accurately when he said, “You are all miserable comforters. Is there no end to your empty words?”
If you’ve been a Job you’ve learned the hard way that these sorts of words do not help. On the other hand, if you’ve never entered into overwhelming darkness, you may not say the things I said to my friends; but you might think them. Believe me, your actions will quickly give you away.
God may be preparing you right now to join a rescue mission on behalf of a friend. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will require you to sit with them in their darkness, take them by the hand, and slowly walk with them back into the light. Don’t be surprised if that doesn’t require some professional assistance. Not only will you be helping them, but you just might learn something about yourself along the way.
I stay profoundly grateful these days because of the army of four God assembled on my behalf. He made Ron captain of that army. His arms held me close when I felt completely overwhelmed. He wisely sympathized and comforted me without turning to useless words to fill the space. He knew how long to let me sit, and when it was time to get me moving. He never let me stew too long at one time unless He knew I felt Jesus was with me.
My man and three of my friends combined their artistic strokes to help create a vivid picture of Jesus. After one friend’s eyes looked intently at the blanket of pain surrounding me, she picked up one end and wrapped it around her shoulders. Another’s smile powerfully transmitted across every single text message. She reminded me of my value and offered encouragement at such perfect times that we both knew the Spirit had orchestrated the timing. The other friend sat and listened with an expression of pure love. No judging. No condemnation – no matter what spewed out of my heart. God’s army of four came to my rescue.
If you have loved ones going through a hard time, become part of God’s army. He’s an expert at strategic military maneuvers and waging war against Satan! You can trust Him to lay out a plan of attack. However, if you are the one who’s suffering, please give your army permission to help. Maybe you’re thinking, “All that army talk sounds good. But what if I don’t have an army? What if I don’t have a husband who loves me or friends to help?” I’ve found there are always godly people who are willing to help. They may be on the edges of your life, but they are there. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t ignore the army when God sends it your way. Trust Him to take care of you.
Most of all, sit and look at Jesus. Fix your eyes on Him. His arms are open and ready to hold you in the middle of the darkest night. His eyes can see and understand your pain because He’s been there. He has and will continue to wear your pain like a blanket. He knows the hurt of rejection, loneliness, heartbreak, grief, and disappointment. His promises and words of affirmation found not only in the pages of Scripture, but also whispered by the Spirit, will encourage you. When you focus solely on Him you will see an expression of pure love. One that does not judge or condemn you for your feelings or past mistakes.
You can eventually lift your heaviest stones from the turbulent undertow and build a mighty altar of prayer. When God delivers you, and He will, transform the altar of your life into one of remembrance so that everyone who sees it will ask, “What do these stones mean?” That’s when the real joy begins, my friend! You get to sing a new song – one of praise to your God who brought you out of darkness into His wonderful light! You get to share wisdom, belief, light, hope, and heaven. That’s when you know your worst of times have become your very best of times!
I can think of no other song I want you to hear today than Lauren Daigle’s new one – Rescue. If you’re having a bad day, go to iTunes or YouTube, and listen to the entire Look Up Child album. You will want to listen even if you’re not having a bad day! 🙂
Please don’t ignore this song! Lauren may be part of your army!
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever! Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:18, CSB