A little over a year ago, I experienced something that devastated my sense of God’s love for a little while. At ten weeks into a joyful surprise pregnancy, I lost the baby my heart (still) aches for. It was my second miscarriage, but this one was different. From both losses surged grief deeper than I ever thought possible for this type of death, but the more recent one messed with my heart in ways I’d never experienced before. Maybe it was because I hadn’t planned the pregnancy in the first place – God just made it happen, not at all in accordance with our plans, and planted a new joy of expectation in our family; maybe it had to do with the roller coaster experience earlier in the pregnancy of believing I had lost the baby to discovering the miraculous reality that I had not and then having that happiness torn away two weeks later when the miscarriage abruptly happened. All of those things led me to one thought toward God: “How could you be so mean to me?”
At the time, I wondered why He had allowed the pregnancy to happen in the first place only to bring pain like this. It’s not like I had planned it and then he interrupted my plans with this. HE DID THIS! Truthfully, I was hurt, and it felt personal. I can’t describe my emotional state those first few days as anything other than anger-filled. There wasn’t even room for sadness at that point. I was just fighting mad at God.
Had I pretended that was not the case, I would have missed out on one of my favorite lessons the Lord has ever taught me. Very simply, all comfort is by His grace.
Now I’m convinced that grace is comfort’s only conduit. Prior to experiencing this kind of anger, I might have concluded that my experience of comfort depended somewhat on my own efforts to position myself for it. In dealing with past hurts, I’d been more quick to open up my Bible and feed my thoughts with truth. I acknowledge that’s a very good thing to do – I recommend it! What I don’t recommend, however, is that you do so at the neglect of honestly expressing the true emotion you are feeling. And please don’t put your trust in a to-do list form of healing; put it in Jesus and watch him work.
For three days, I pretty much screamed. Screamed at God anytime I could lock myself away in my bedroom and crumble on the floor sobbing. I’d never felt anger like that. I was boiling. I acted like a stubborn child who knew the right thing to do but didn’t want to, so I didn’t. I put away any thought in my mind that reminded me God is good. I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to think it. I just wanted to feel what I wanted to feel – furious.
I went three days before God started breaking down the walls in my heart. He did this in several ways. He used people to demonstrate His love through service and gifts and healing words offered. I didn’t want to see God as the source, but I couldn’t help feeling loved by it. His love shining through their love worked to soften my heart, and I couldn’t prevent that. I came undone after a friend dropped off a handmade gift that contained a symbol of Jeremiah 17:7-8, a passage I had recently shared with her as one God was using again in my life. I had refused to open His Word, and He brought it to me anyway. He was reminding me of past work as an encouragement of His present activity in my life. In that moment, I understood better than ever before that I would never be able to outrun his love. NEVER. I was his child; that was secure. There was no other possible outcome than Him pursuing his loved child, and the precious picture of Jesus going after his lost sheep in Luke 15’s parable had never been so clear to me. Or so beautiful.
Leaning on my friends isn’t what secured my healing, just as diligence in soaking in Truth didn’t ensure that I would be ok. JESUS did. Because he is my Savior, I could rest in His ability to bring comfort to my heart – in his way, in his timing. Those friends and their service were grace gifts from him, and for their obedience to his nudging I will always be grateful.
You learn something else when you truly get mad at God. You learn who your safe friends are. There are many who won’t be able to handle the fact that you’re angry. That’s ok – you don’t have to bring it to them. But you shouldn’t blame them either. They just haven’t learned this yet, and they’re loving you the best way they know. They may try to rush you through this part of the process or try to talk you out of the anger you feel. They’ll do it because they’re concerned and want you to feel better. Accept that form of love, and move on. Turn to the people who can handle it. And learn to be that kind of friend. When my friends are grieving, I respond differently now. I understand now that if they’re God’s child, he’ll move them out of this place; I don’t have to. I won’t keep from pointing them to Jesus and his love, but I’ll encourage them to run WITH their anger for him to heal and use in their life. I’ll resist the urge to fix it. I won’t freak out when someone shares with me the ugly truth of what they’re feeling toward God (like I just did – scary!), but I’ll be excited to watch how God tenderly reaches them with his love as they bring him their anger. And I’ll pray to that end as well.
When I remember that Habakkuk’s conversation with God began with honestly questioning even the character of God, I find freedom. I’m reminded of how God has blessed me through my own questioning time last August when I really didn’t see his love. This was the starting place for Habakkuk, and it was an important starting place for me too.
The next stop on the journey was working through my beliefs on the sovereignty of God, and the next post in this series will take a look at what else Habakkuk chapter one teaches us about that and how wonderfully connected it is to this freedom we have to cry to Him in anger.
Have you experienced something like this too? When has God surprised you with his comfort?