Joy in the Midst of Heartache
By Anonymous Writer
There are moments that split your life cleanly in two. From that moment, there is before, and there is after, and every event in your life is defined by that new time line. For me, it was the night my mom told me that my dad had left. The words “There is someone else…” changed everything, and in that moment, I would have given anything to go back to the time before I heard them. I was blindsided, angry, horrified. My parents had been married for over thirty years; how could this be happening? That my dad had found someone else was inconceivable to me, but there was nothing I could do to change the fact that this was real life now. The life where my dad didn’t love my mom anymore, and our family was broken. Even if restoration was made, we could never go back to not knowing the truth.
Months stretched into a year, and my mom did everything she could to try to save their marriage. She prayed; we all prayed. Even though it was so painful, we were trusting that God was working in the situation, no matter what. My mom extended unconditional love and forgiveness again and again to my dad, but he still chose a different life. They are divorced now, and I don’t really have much of a relationship with my dad anymore. Even thought it’s been over three years since he left, I sometimes can’t believe it’s real. Birthdays, holidays, graduations, a wedding; everything is so different. Every family event is tainted by the incredibly obvious absence of someone who was once a part of everything. The pain carries a weight. Something so tangible that, at times, you can actually feel it pressing on your chest. It wakes you up at night, brings tears to yours eyes in moments that should be nothing but joy, and hurts so bad sometimes that you can hardly breathe.
Over the past three years, I have seen God provide and care for my mom in amazing ways, strengthening her faith, as well as mine, and leaving me no doubt that He is indeed working all things together for good. But the weight… It’s something that I have continued to carry. It’s been a burden that, at times, has held me back from living life to the fullest with the joy of the Lord. I had come to believe it was now a part of me and was something I would always carry.
However, during the past few months, my Bible study group has been studying Hebrews, and God has shown me two verses that have truly changed my mindset and greatly encouraged me.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
~ Hebrews 12:1-2
I’ve read these verses countless times, but this time, they struck me differently. We are to lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us. I’ve always associated the weight and sin in this verse together, as if they were the same, but they are listed separately. The weight can be anything that burdens us or distracts us from Jesus, and not necessarily sin. A very simple concept, I realize, and perhaps not so profound, but reading the verses in this new light gave me clarity that laying aside this weight is what I am supposed to do. And further, the fact that God’s Word is telling me to do it, means it can be done! Again, so simple, but such an encouragement.
As our study continued, I came across another verse in chapter 13 that further strengthened my resolve to start putting this weight aside:
So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” ~ Hebrews 13:6
“What can man do to me?” It’s such a “bring it on” statement. In Christ, we have everything. And no pain in this lifetime will have a lasting impact, be it physical, mental, or emotional. The world can throw its worst at us, but we don’t have to live in disappointment or constant pain because of the way things turned out, because this is not all there is. Our souls are untouchable because of Christ. What a freeing truth!
Some pain we encounter may never fully go away, and there are some situations that never really become “okay” in this lifetime. God knew our fallen, broken world would be full of struggles, and He doesn’t promise us constant happiness or understanding or even resolution. But what does He promise us? His peace. His joy. His continuous strength, guidance, and Presence in our lives. And a future of glory that removes all pain.
I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. ~ John 16:33
You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. ~ Psalm 16:11
Tragedy doesn’t have to have a continuous effect on our lives. The burden of pain is not ours to carry, and we are not meant to live in a perpetual state of anxiety, sadness, or regret. We are strangers and pilgrims on this earth (Heb. 11:13), and in time, we must shift our focus to Jesus and the joy ahead of us as children of the King. We won’t have a life without struggles or pain, but in the midst of trials we can re-focus, because we know that our present sufferings will be nothing in comparison to the joy that is before us.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. ~ Romans 8:18
Yet, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
~ Romans 8:37
We will certainly encounter times of sorrow, but we cannot build a home and live there. We can’t let those times define us. We can lay aside our burdens and live whole and fulfilled, looking to our precious Christ, Who sets the example. Who endured and overcame for the joy that was set before Him.
O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free:
Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
~Helen Howarth Lemmel