There are times in life when all of a sudden your life is turned upside down. A heart-attack out-of-the-blue. The death of a loved one…maybe even someone taken way too soon. An unexpected, maybe even unwanted, pregnancy. The earth-shattering news that you or someone you love has a terminal illness. Finding out that your baby is going to have mental or physical disabilities that will affect their entire life. Being handed divorce papers after years of a struggling marriage.
Life can change in an instant. Have you ever wanted to just rewind to a time when the world still made sense? To rewind to a time when you didn’t have such difficult decisions to make? To rewind to a time before everything changed, so you could feel the bliss and happiness again?
I don’t claim to have all the answers, and I certainly don’t try to claim that there is an easy-fix to the earth-shattering times in life.
What I do know is that the Bible tells us what we should do in times like these:
1. Grieve. When something life-shattering happens, it is normal and healthy for you to grieve. Grieve what you have lost. Grieve what once was. Grieve the huge change that is impacting your life.
The Bible isn’t full of people who are always happy, plastered with fake smiles. No, the Bible is full of real humans, who faced terrible circumstances of their own:
- Paul grieved: “For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears” (2 Corinthians 2:4)
- David grieved: “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning.” (Psalm 38:4-6)
- Other Psalm writers grieved: “I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppresed by the enemy?'” (Psalm 42:9)
- Jeremiah grieved: “Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable?” (Jeremiah 15:18)
- Jesus grieved: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Matthew 26:38)
There is nothing shameful about grieving. In fact, grieving may be the most healthy thing for you to do. As one of my college professors, Dr. Gary Zustiak, taught, the emotions you are feeling are not going to go away by bottling them up, they will only resurface in other areas of your life and come out in destructive ways.
Instead, you must face those emotions. One of the best ways to do that is through prayer.
2. Pray. The second thing to do when your world is turned upside down is to pray. God wants you to pour your heart out to him. He knows what is going on in your life, and he wants you to invite him into it.
Did you know that over 1/3 of the book of Psalms (that’s over 50 psalms) are considered psalms of “lament”? That means that they are psalms crying out to God about hurts and brokenness. As Dr. Zustiak puts it, laments are a “loud religious ouch” — as we cry out in pain when we are hurting physically, lamenting is how we cry out in pain when we are hurting emotionally or spiritually.
God can handle our raw emotions. And getting those emotions out through prayer starts us on the healing process. It opens us up to receive the comfort of God.
Though you may not feel God, he is there, he hears your prayers, and he cares for you. Just as 2 Corinthians 1 tells us, God is the “Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles.”
Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”
Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
3. Trust in God. The third thing to do is trust in God. No matter the circumstance, God is able to bring about good. God does not cause evil things to happen; terrible & life-shattering things happen in this world because there is sin in the world. But when they do happen, our God is great enough to be able to work good out of it.
“Ok, so what good could possibly come from the death of a child, or from this terminal illness?”, you might ask. Like I said, I don’t claim to have the answers. I know that when bad things happen, it can seem like the world as you know it has ceased to exist. You may feel like no good could possibly ever come from it.
But hear what I’m saying – I’m not saying that you may ever think of the situation as “good.” Those who lose a child will never look back and say it was “good” that they lost a child. However, those who have lost their child have said that because of it, they found God and found a renewed hope in him. Parents who have children who are diagnosed with disabilities won’t say it’s “good” that their child will never live a regular life here on earth. But they do say that having a child with disabilities has taught them what love really looks like, how to have greater patience, and what it means to believe in God with a child-like faith. (This one I know personally, as my brother has mental disabilities.)
So what good can come from your situation? I don’t know. But I do know that God asks us to trust him and to trust that he is big enough to bring something beautiful from the ashes.
Though you may not be able to see it now (or maybe not for a long, long time), God, who has an eternal viewpoint, can see how good can come from even the worst of circumstances. God is asking you to trust his view of eternity. God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9).
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
If you have 30 minutes to spare, I would recommend listening to this message from Dr. Gary Zustiak, who I mentioned a couple times in this post. His words are healing to the soul and he has great insights about what it means to lament to God.