Inner Strength

Facing Sorrow

Sorrow. It’s more than being sad. It’s deeper than disappointment over the fact that someone ate the last cookie or didn’t leave enough milk for cereal. Sorrow is a distress that seeks to penetrate our hearts. It’s grief, anguish, and often indescribable emotional pain.

Perhaps you know precisely what I’m talking about, and when you think of what prompted that sorrow, unpleasant emotions come flooding back.

Maybe, you’re walking through it now. Your heart aches, but you don’t know what to do about it. People ask how you’re doing, and you casually say, “Fine,” because you’re not sure how else to respond. You also don’t know if you can talk about it without crying.

If you’re in either of those situations, I understand. I’ve experienced deep heartache and would still be hurting if it weren’t for God.

Sorrow is hard, and during those time, it’s easy to make poor decisions. We want vengeance, an explanation, or a large eraser to change what happened. The truth of the matter is we’re hurting, and although we may push others away, our inner walls are down. Our hearts are exposed to countless thoughts that race through our minds.

Consider the following two examples.

Situation 1: Significant Other Ends Things

Thought: You aren’t good enough.
You: I’m not good enough.
Thought: If you stopped doing that thing he didn’t like, he’d still be with you.
You: You’re right. I can change!
Thought: Tell him you won’t do that thing. You can be different.
You: It’s true. I CAN be different. I WILL be different. He has to give me another chance!
Thought: Well, if he doesn’t, it’s because you’re unlovable. Clearly, there’s something wrong with you, or this wouldn’t have happened.
You: I know. I constantly say the wrong thing. I’m a mess.
Thought: You ARE a mess. Obviously, God wants you to be alone.
You: Why, God? Why me?

Situation 2: Loved One is Battling Sickness

Thought: If God can fix this, why hasn’t He?
You: I don’t know. I just don’t know.
Thought: If He’s big enough, He would have done it, right?
You: Well, yeah, but
Thought: But what? There must be a reason why your friend isn’t better.
You: …
Thought: If God loved your friend—if he loved YOU—He would heal them, right?
You: Yeah.
Thought: Well, they aren’t better. You keep asking, and they aren’t better. You’ve promised God you would live right, serve Him, attend church, and for what? Your friend is STILL sick.
You: You’re right! Why hasn’t He healed her?
Thought: It’s because God doesn’t care. He doesn’t care what happens to your friend, if He did, she’d be better.
You: Why doesn’t He love her? I just want Him to love her!
Thought: He doesn’t love you either. If He loved you, He’d take you up on your offer to serve Him in exchange for your friend’s healing. God could do it, He just doesn’t care.
You: Well, if He doesn’t care about me, I don’t care about Him. I don’t need God. I don’t need anybody!

When we’re experiencing sorrow, the enemy sneaks lies into our thoughts, hoping we’ll accept them. These lies are dangerous. The enemy knows our hearts are hurting and searching for answers, so he provides bad ones in an attempt to lure us away from God: to question our identity in Christ and doubt God’s love for us. The enemy wants us to embrace anger, fear, and resentment.

Why? To separate us from God. Jesus tells us that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly,” (John 10:10). The enemy is the thief. His mission? To destroy.

When sorrowful, we’re vulnerable to the thief’s attack. Jesus knows this, which is why He warns his disciples in Luke 22:45-46:

“When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, and said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.’”

Sometimes, our response is to sleep, be it physically or emotionally. We want to close our eyes to the reality around us and give in to the exhaustion. What was Jesus’ advice when the disciples were sorrowful? Pray.

What is the most powerful thing we can do when overwhelmed with sorrow? Pray. Talk to God and remember Who He is. Remind yourself of the wonderful things He has done in your life. If you struggle to think of anything, start counting your blessings. Did you eat today? Do you have a bed? A pillow? Clothes? Shelter? Begin thanking Him for His goodness. By doing so, you welcome His presence into your situation; He’s the only one who can bring healing to your heart.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “That sounds well and good, but how can I praise Him in this situation? It’s too dark. You don’t understand.”

Consider Paul and Silas. These men were stripped of their robes and beaten with rods because of something good they did in the name of Jesus. After the beating, they were thrown in prison, their feet placed in stocks. You may think Paul and Silas had a reason to be mad at God. I mean, they were doing His work when arrested. Take a look at what happened:

“But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;  and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened,” (Acts 16:25-26).

Amid their hardship, the men prayed and sang praise to God. Praise shifts our attitude and refocuses our attention on Him. It welcomes Him into our situation and squeezes out the enemy’s lies.

Next time you experience sorrow, consider doing these three things:

  1. Pray. Talk to God and stay close to Him.
  2. Praise. Thank God for the good things He has done. I recommend doing this out loud. Words have power.
  3. Declare. Speak God’s word. Speak truth. Here are some passages to consider using:

 

~ If Feeling Alone ~

Sorrow 1

Sorrow 2

Sorrow 3

~ If Questioning Identity ~

Sorrow 4

Sorrow 5

~ If Feeling Weak ~

Sorrow 9

Sorrow 10

Sorrow 11

~ If Feeling Unloved ~

Sorrow 6

Sorrow 7

~ If Questioning the Future ~

Sorrow 8

~ If Searching for Words to Praise God ~

Sorrow 12

 

When the enemy tries to sneak in with lies, we can choose whether to accept or dismiss those thoughts. Let’s choose to stand firmly upon God’s truth and let His word cover our hearts.

Reconsider the previous two situations. What if, instead of agreeing with the lies, we responded like this?

Situation 1: Significant Other Ends Things

Thought: You aren’t good enough.
You: I am wonderfully made by God.
Thought: If you are wonderfully made, why did that guy break up with you?
You: I don’t know, but I DO know that I am loved by God, and nothing can change that.
Thought: But you’re alone. Is following God worth being alone?
You: With God, I am never alone.
Thought: Umm…
You: I know who I am, and the right person will appreciate that. God has good plans for me.

Situation 2: Loved One is Battling Sickness

Thought: If God can fix this, why hasn’t He?
You: I don’t know, but I trust Him.
Thought: What if your friend doesn’t get better? What then?
You: I don’t know, and although I might not understand it, I know God is good and that He loves me.
Thought: But there must be a reason why your friend isn’t better.
You: Maybe, but I will praise God through the storm. I will keep believing.
Thought: But you—
You: He is good.
Thought: But—
You: And nothing can separate me, OR my friend, from His love.
Thought: You aren’t listening!
You: He’s a good Father, and I’m His child. No one can snatch me out of His hand.
Thought: You don’t mean that.
You: Yes, I do. He is my God, and He is good.

I know it can be tough to speak truth while our hearts our aching, but God can help. He wants to cover our situation with peace and guide us through every season. If you’re only prayer is, “God, help me,” then say that. Keep your eyes on Him, and be mindful that while we’re sad, the enemy will try to feed us lies about God as well as our identity and value. Fight lies with truth. Consider printing the verses above and keeping some (or all) of them with you. Post them on your mirror or put them in your wallet.

God wants to comfort and heal our hearts. He understands our pain and is the only one Who can truly restore aching souls. Trust Him. He loves you, and His love never fails.