What We Really Have to Do When We’re in Pain

Tears spill heavy and I am torn in a moment’s time – torn as we all are when pain sears hot and we’re forced into the quandary that presses: What will I do with this heartache? Where will I run? The trouble with these painful times – no matter the cause of the infliction – is that they’re us at our worst. They’re the bottom rung and the weakest link of our spiritual lives. These are not our clear-thinking, strong-hearted, light-flooded days. These are times when we’re dizzy and off-balance, in a fog and staggering from the enemy’s arrows. We do here what’s most basic to us, for better or for worse. Who will we run to? Where will we hide ourselves? So much hangs on this question.

Our Weakest Link Must Lead us to God

David knew where to go in these times, no matter their cause. Even when his own sin was the instigator and shame for his shortcomings the heartache, he ran headlong into the refuge of the Lord Himself. He wept his bitter tears there in the Lord’s embrace. David’s bottom rung and weakest link was what made him a man after the Lord’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22). His most basic response – even in trouble – was to run to God.  In the fog. In the midst of shame. In sorrows. He ran to God and he never wept alone. In caves, in distress over his sin, or in heartbreak over betrayal, his safe-place and beloved Friend was the Lord Himself (Ps. 41:9, 11; 34:18; 31:1-5).

[framed_box] Pain in this life is never to separate us from Jesus. It’s to be an escort deeper into His heart, His care, His enveloping. These times – when we’re our weakest selves, uncertain and flung wide open and sidelined – they etch intimacy with God deeper into our souls more than any other times. They shape our future. Here, where weakness is not shunned but overshadowed, He covers us with His wing, shielding us from the arrows that fly (Ps. 91:4-5).[/framed_box]

This is what we must remember when trouble strikes, no matter the cause. This is what has to be our first response. For though we all know the right answer of who we’re supposed to turn to, it’s that weak link that sometimes snaps in the swift moment when we’re struck. Amnesia sets in at the most inopportune time and we clamor in so many other directions except toward Him, our Safety. He must be our only plan for when our bearings can’t be found and we’re staggering. When we hit that lowest wrung and feel the fragility of that weakest link, and there’s that moment of uncertainty as to what to do, we only need to have this one thing clear. We’re to run headlong into the heart of God. We’re to find Him as our fellowship and refuge and there abide.  In the darkness, we must cling to Him as our Refuge, making His words and His voice that which steadies us. Quick answers He may not give, but these are secondary when we are encompassed in Him whose name is Answer. He Himself is our solution.

He Keeps Our Tears

As I’ve grown over years in having that bottom wrung and most basic response be to run to the Lord, I’ve found continually that it’s here – in this secret exchange – where I’m most undone by His love. When all my props are down and every part of me quivering, how His love reaches deep. Here I experience how He knowsHe sees, and He disregards nothing. Tears are not despised here. They’re kept. One by one He gathers them into His bottle, always to be remembered. And not only does He remember them individually, He puts into remembrance where they have come from, what brought them and the storyline behind them (Mal. 3:16). His tender keeping of them will one day – I believe – leave us utterly breathless, as He brings the bottle to us and recounts each tear one by one (Ps. 56:8). We were not made to shed these anywhere but His presence – always with Him and never alone. And we are changed forever in that exchange.

Here, we find Him so faithful. The One who draws us close in these times does so with all His heart, delighting in the one who calls Him “Refuge.” He does not take it lightly. He rushes in to cover, and preserve and undergird. For the one who has no other response but to run to God and no other refuge but the Lord Himself, He spares nothing in drawing near and showing Himself strong. He rushes in with that holy song resounding:

Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble…” (Ps. 91:9-16).