We don’t always understand pain. And a lot of us have come to terms with that.
But what seems to be worse—and so much more disconcerting for those of us in the middle of a season of difficulty—is that we just don’t know what to say.
Not to ourselves.
Not to others going through it.
In the middle of pain…grief….anxiety…depression…loss….most words of comfort seem shallow. In her article, “Six Words to Say Through Tears” on Desiring God, Nancy Guthrie shares her experiences wrestling with this problem:
“We look for something solid to grab hold of to find stability in a storm of sadness…and clarity in a sea of confusion. Some of the things we grab hold of are profoundly true and therefore prove to steady us in the storm. But some of the things we grab hold of emanate from the vacuous spirituality and shallow beliefs of our modern culture, instead of from the solid truth of God’s word. They might sound nice, but they simply aren’t true. Or, perhaps more often, they are only partly true. Some of the very spiritual-sounding things we say to ourselves, or hear others say to us, in the midst of grief have no scriptural basis, or even contradict Scripture.
I think a lot of can relate to the “spiritual-sounding things”. And even though we know a lot of those things are shallow, we keep searching for comfort. But as C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity:
“Comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it…If you look for comfort, you will not get either comfort or truth — only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.”
But if comfort fails us…what’s left?
Nancy Guthrie, who is writing from a place of loss and grief, shares what helped her in the storm. Notice that it’s not a sermon. It’s not an explanation. It’s not a long-winded prayer. It’s six words. Six simple, beautiful, vulnerable words:
“I can trust God with this.”
If you were reading this hoping for a prescription, perhaps you’re a little disappointed. Or perhaps you’ve heard those words before and you’re wondering what six simple words can do. But I challenge you to look at those words one more time, and let them sink in:
“I can trust God with this.”
When you get at the implications locked into this seemingly simple statement, there’s depth and truth waiting behind it. Depth and truth that have the power to transform your heart, your life perspective, and the impossibility of your situation. Guthrie shares how, in the storm of chaotic thoughts and emotions, “I can trust God with this” means:
- I can trust God with the unknowns about my future.
- I can trust God with my unanswered questions until faith becomes sight.
- I can trust God to heal the hurt.
- I can trust God to fill the emptiness.
- I can trust God to illumine this darkness.
- I can trust God to restore joy to my life.
- I can trust God to speak to me through his word.
- I can trust God to cause this to work together for my good and for the good of others impacted by this, to conform us more closely to the image of Christ.
- I can trust God to supply sufficient grace and divine power for facing whatever comes.
And when your own desperate thoughts and questions come, don’t silence them. Let them flow. Speak into them. And know that it all begins with truth.
See, I actually left out one part of the C. S. Lewis quote shared above. Lewis says: “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end.”
So what is the truth?
The truth is that the Lord of the universe made you, knows you, and loves you. So much so that He put everything on the line for you. So much so that He’s willing to re-shift the order of the universe to have your heart.
So through tears, through pain, and through questions…
May truth give you a reason to whisper, “Lord, I can trust you with this.”