August 22, 2009 by Stacy McDonald
“You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?” (Psalm 56:8)
He numbers my wanderings—He watches, records, and walks with me. He always has; even though it hasn’t always seemed like it. He even remembers the things He’s allowed me to forget. He has seen it all. So many times I thought I suffered alone; feeling like nobody cared—nobody understood. But, He was there – storing and counting my tears.
Now, if that was it—if all God did was stand beside me, watching my pain, it would seem a little cruel. It may be somewhat comforting, validating perhaps, to know He was there witnessing my hurts; but, it would be a hollow, scary kind of comfort. Who is this God who grieves with me, but is unable to stop my pain?
I was told that God watches with sadness as we suffer; but, that He has virtually nothing to do with it—no control. He grieves with us, but He can’t do anything about the circumstances which caused our suffering. And I became afraid.
Are you afraid? Have you ever wondered: “If God really loves me, why doesn’t He do something?” “Why didn’t He keep this from happening” “Why doesn’t He take away the pain?” “Why can’t I get past this?”
“But to You I have cried out, O Lord, and in the morning my prayer comes before You. Lord, why do You cast off my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me? I have been afflicted and ready to die from my youth; I suffer Your terrors; I am distraught. Your fierce wrath has gone over me; Your terrors have cut me off. They came around me all day long like water; they engulfed me altogether. Loved one and friend You have put far from me, and my acquaintances into darkness.” (Psalm 88:13-18)
Why is it we’re rarely told that God orchestrates our lives according to His will? How can we find comfort in a god who sits wringing his hands in despair while we suffer—powerless to do anything?
“Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that woe and well-being proceed?” (Lamentations 3:37-38)
Yes, He is in control of our lives…even the painful parts. He knows us intimately—and He knows our suffering the same way. Yet, he allows the “woe and the well-being” to occur in our lives for our good and His ultimate glory. Coming to terms with that fact is comforting. God is in control. Knowing that our pain isn’t wasted provides healing, somehow—He uses it all.
“Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. For He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.” (Lamentations 3:32-33)
Many of us have scars from our pasts—perhaps even deep festering wounds. Sometimes these wounds are hard to identify because we have stuffed them—hidden them…even from ourselves. Perhaps they have healed over, only on the surface. Occasionally, we’re stunned by sudden stinging signs of a deeper hurt—signs that appear and are briefly exposed by the bumps and bruises of everyday life. And we wonder.
“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth…” (Isaiah 54:4)
When will I forget the shame? How can I face my forsakenness? What if someone sees the real hurt that fuels my fears? Even I can’t look.
If I slip and reveal too much, everyone will behold my disgrace. They will know my worthlessness—my ugliness. They will see how low and unwanted I have always been.
But if I can forget, maybe they can too. If I can hide myself, I can’t be rejected. If I can blind myself to who I really am, maybe I will go away—at least that part of me—the cowering girl who no one wants.
“When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.” (Psalm 27:10)
But I won’t go away. Closing my eyes to my wretchedness will not hide my wicked heart, or my twisted worthlessness—even from myself.
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.” (Psalm 51:7-9)
In my “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” state I asked Jesus to cloth me in the white garments He offered—garments purchased with His own precious blood—garments that covered my wretchedness and gave me worth and value. In His mercy, He anointed my eyes and I was finally able to see (Rev. 3:17-18). He washed me clean and gave me a new name.
“You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; For the Lord delights in you….” (Isaiah 62:4)
“For the Lord has called you like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a youthful wife when you were refused,” Says your God.” (Isaiah 54:6)
So, why do I try to live in the land of the forsaken when I have been invited to the land of the cherished? (Eph. 5:29) Why do I close my healed eyes to what He has changed and walk in the torment and fears of the forsaken? Why do I hide in the strange comfort of familiar pain, cowering alone deep in my soul, when I have been called to be a city on a hill? (Matt 5:14) Sometimes pain is comfortable—it’s what we know.
Click here for part 2 of His Bottle of Tears