You have to feel it to heal it
I’ve recently been walking through a long season of heartache. I lost two loved ones suddenly, within months of each other. Two of my closest friends have been on the verge of forfeiting their battles with severe depression. The world around me seems to be collapsing under the weight of constant tragedy and violence.
And somehow, in the midst of it all, I’ve been working on two books based on the concept of true worth and inherent value found in Jesus Christ. What a tension I’ve been living in, carrying hope in one hand and heartache in the other.
Surrounded by so much grief, I’ve struggled with allowing myself to surrender to sorrow. Sometimes it can feel like sadness threatens to swallow me whole, and I fight hard for any semblance of control.
Usually when huge waves of heartache come my way, my first response has always been to numb my pain, turning to sleep as a method of escape and the convenience of Chick-fil-A for comfort—always upsizing the fries, of course. Here’s the thing: rest and food are necessary and good things. I often joke that Chick-fil-A is the Lord’s chicken! But too much of a good thing can become harmful to both our health and our spiritual well-being. I’ve used these coping mechanisms my whole life, thinking they were the safest route for handling my feelings. I believed that if I allowed myself to let it all out, the tears might never stop.
Thanks to therapy and prayer, here’s what I’ve learned: if we want God to heal it, we must be willing to feel it. Ignoring heartache doesn’t make us immune to it; it makes us numb to it.
Psalm 126:5-6 beautifully illustrates the connection between heartache and hope. We cannot celebrate the harvest without the seasons of sowing, toil and tears. The psalmist invited us to consider that perhaps our tears are falling on the soil that God will use to grow us.
If you find yourself in a season of sorrow and feel tempted to hold it all in . . . just let it out. Not only is a good cry cleansing for the soul, but it’s scientifically proven to be good for your physical health. Tears release oxytocin and endorphins, and these feel-good chemicals help ease both physical and emotional pain.
Sometimes in the middle of your grief it’s hard to see how God can use your tears. I’ve been there, and so have many others in the Bible. Hagar sobbed in the wilderness, and God heard her plea (Gen. 21:17). David moaned and groaned to the point of physical exhaustion, yet God heard him and didn’t tire of his tears (Ps. 6:6). Jesus wept, even though he knew he’d resurrect his dear friend Lazarus from the grave (John 11:35). Do you see a pattern here? The God of all comfort was with every single one of them, and he’s with you too.
Sweet friend, your suffering is seen. If you’re living in the tension of carrying hope in one hand and heartache in the other, rest in this truth: God is carrying you right at this very moment.
Excerpted from “There’s Beauty in Your Brokenness: 90 Devotions to Surrender Striving, Live Unburdened, and Find Your Worth in Christ” by Brittany Maher and Cassandra Speer. Copyright © 2023 Brittany Maher and Cassandra Speer. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. harpercollinschristian.com.
- Read “There’s Beauty in Your Brokenness: 90 Devotions to Surrender Striving, Live Unburdened, and Find Your Worth in Christ” (Thomas Nelson, 2023) by Cassandra Speer.
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