Have you ever experienced deep emotional anguish that threatened to take you down?
I have a friend who suffered a health scare recently, and a friend of a friend who lost her son unexpectedly this past week. In both scenarios these women might be angry at God and ask questions like: “Why did you let this happen?” “What purpose is there in this?”
While my “dark night of the soul” pales in comparison to these two situations, it happened after my move to North Texas fourteen years ago. After living in a South-Texas community where I was considered a leader and was known because of my days on television, I went to a place where I was unknown, and in some ways shunned because I was in seminary. I felt like I lost my identity. I was lonely. I hadn’t discovered my new purpose. I could hardly put one foot in front of the other as I trudged from class-to-class at school. It is a miracle that I finished my degree.
So how did I break through this deep anguish?
When lost, we always have to go back to the Word of God to see how our perfect Teacher, Jesus, handled his deep pain.
Jesus Trusted God Despite the Circumstances.
Jesus knew the cross was coming and with the disciples nearby, was spending his last moments of freedom in prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed, “Father, if it is your will take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Jesus trusted that this was a part of a bigger plan, even though he had to die to accomplish it.
Jesus Was Strengthened Through Prayer.
When we’re mad at God, prayer may be the last thing we want to do, but it is the first place we should go. After Jesus prayed, Luke 22:43 says, “Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.” Have you ever seen someone go through a difficult trial yet they had an incredible peace? That is a peace that only comes through prayer, and perhaps after the prayer, the Holy Spirit provided the comfort they needed. It’s not hard to fathom that God also sent one of his angels to strengthen them. There is an unseen world surrounding us.
Jesus Asked Others to Pray for Him.
Often times, these periods of deep anguish are too much for us to handle alone. We have to ask trusted friends to pray with us, and for us. When Jesus rose from his time of prayer, He found the disciples sleeping. Were they just tuckered out? No, Luke 22:45 says they were sleeping because of their own sorrow. And what did Jesus say to them? “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray lest you enter into temptation.”
It is tempting to stay in bed, pull the covers over our heads, and retreat from the world when pressed down by deep anguish, but God wants us to be proactive. He desires for us to reach out to others for help and press into Him through prayer, so He can guide us out of the thick fog to a place where the sun is shining in our life again. He doesn’t want us to feel alone in the journey.
In my case, the Lord introduced me to a friend and prayer partner. We spent many days on our knees praying over all that was troubling. It was a powerful time of prayer where we saw God’s hand on both our lives, as well as our family’s lives. I began to see the scenario from His perspective. I realized he allowed this time of isolation so I’d spend more time with Him, and to prepare me for a new calling as a minister to women. He had to tear away the old Lisa where everything came easy, to the new Lisa who relied on God for everything.
Are you going through deep anguish? Trust God. Spend time with Him. Remember how He’s brought you through difficult situations in the past. Life is hard, but the Lord wants to love you through it.
“And I said, ‘This is my anguish; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the works of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.’”
Categories: Devotion of the Week