“I feel so betrayed, I’m not sure who is real anymore—all the safe places I used to turn to, they don’t feel safe anymore,” said my dear friend, Adie, this morning, her voice trembling with unshed tears.
She and her husband and children are suffering—mourning the fracturing of their church family; mourning the loss of relationships they once thought unbreakable; mourning the potential loss of their foster-daughter, whom they’ve loved as their own for six years and hoped to adopt; mourning the messy brokenness in their extended family; mourning the isolation brought on by Covid-19 and the polarizing anger and judgment that permeates the air, threatening to suffocate us all.
“I’m just really struggling with feeling abandoned and betrayed . . .” her voice clouds with sorrow, nearly breaking, then she pours out:
“I have this one card I keep in a box on my desk—I’ve never sent it to anyone because it’s so raw. It says, ‘When you pray for rain, you have to be prepared for the mud.’ The card has been sitting in my stationary box for forever, but the other day God brought it to my mind and it occurred to me that the best fertilizer is shit, and here I’ve been complaining about how much there is, when that’s what we put on crops so they can grow!”
“I want to grow, to learn, to know joy and peace. But it is so very hard! So very lonely!”
My friend’s words capture the heart longing of so many during this season when “sorrows like sea billows roll.” We long for the peace and joy of “Emmanuel—God with us!” But as we wait for the time when Jesus will wipe away every tear, we are called to draw near to each other in our sufferings and sorrows, gently reminding one another to “Keep trusting the One who keeps you trusting”* because he is faithful and good.
As Christians, we draw near to one another because Jesus first drew near to us.
So, throughout the days of Advent, I invite you to draw close—
To read, listen, and be encouraged by the stories of Christian brothers and sisters who, in the muddiest, messiest moments of their lives, felt Jesus draw near and give them Hope.
Beginning Monday, November 30, until Christmas Eve, check back for raw stories of how God used even the most painful moments to work miracles of grace and healing. I am so thankful for the individuals who were willing to gift us with their hearts and entrust us with their stories of Emmanuel—God with us.
- How are you struggling this Advent season? What difficult circumstances are you facing and how are you responding to them? Do you tend to withdraw? Become cynical? Speak too much? Distract yourself with shopping, entertainment, etc.?
- What would it look like for you to draw near to the Lord in your suffering? To trust that he is not distant, though it may feel like it, but close?
- Who could you invite into your struggles to listen and pray?
- Who is struggling in your family, church, or friendship circle? How might you draw near to them simply to understand and listen?
*Vroegop, Mark. Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament. 85.