Finding peace in the midst of your pain
“Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?” Lk. 24:38
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where not much in life seems to make sense? Ever since Easter (when I last posted on this blog ) my life has unraveled in ways I had not expected and I’ve found myself looking downwards more than usual, not only physically but in my spirit. It’s like an imaginary yoke pushing me downward, but the yoke is not imaginary. It’s as real as the air I breathe.
I’m reminded of the passage where Jesus comes to the disciples after his resurrection and asks them,
“Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?”
I hear the Holy Spirit asking me the same. Did I not get an awesome word — the message of being held in the palm of God’s hand – why do I keep doubting? Why do sadness and sorrow linger over me like a fog that won’t go away?
The forest behind our backyard has now fully come alive and is beaming in lush greenery; the fields are a bright yellow and the sun is shining. It’s a beautiful world, yet I feel burdened, troubled, and the muscles on my shoulders are knotted up.
A friend, an older, wiser man, told us that “shalom” or peace was missing from our marriage and family and his words strike a chord that reaches deep within the crevices of my heart. On the surface, I’d like to deny it. Don’t most families struggle now and then?
But I see the woundedness in what was once a happy face, and there is no denying of the underlying pain in our home. How did I end up here and more importantly how do we find a way out?
Back to the Easter story, on the road to Emmaus we find two young disciples downcast as they reminisce over what had happened. It was Easter Sunday and Jesus’s death on Friday seemed like an overwhelming tragedy. His death meant an end to any hope they may have had. All seemed lost.
I can relate … some days in the midst of my pain, I can’t see beyond my present circumstances and hope seems distant and the tears come with no seeming end. Things weren’t supposed to end up this way.
But Jesus comes along but because they faces were downcast, they were kept from seeing him. The disciples were mourning not only the loss of their beloved friend, master but the death of their dreams for their future.
Jesus invites them to speak, to tell him what he already knows. God already knows everything about our family circumstance and yet, I’m invited to share with him what’s boiling in my heart. For me, this has always worked best through the prayers I write in my journal. I can tell Jesus my disappointment, my loss and why it all hurts so much. I’m also thankful for trustworthy friends who will simply listen over a cup of coffee.
After listening to them, Jesus wastes no time explaining the tragedy they’ve witnessed using Scripture. He reveals the truth to them – it was supposed to happen like that. The only way they could have any real hope for their lives was if he died in their place on the cross.
At the end of their journey, they invite Jesus in for supper and he takes the bread, gives thanks and breaks it.
And suddenly, the eyes of their hearts are open and they see Jesus. I love how Scripture records what Jesus did – that habit he’d shown and lived while he was with them — of giving thanks and breaking bread with them. It was the signature mark that helped them see that all along, Jesus was with them.
The psalmist writes,
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
And I’m reminded of the truth that even though I walk through this valley of pain in our home, I know that I’m not alone. God is with us. I’m encouraged to give thanks – now more than ever because I know God can use that to open the eyes of my heart to see that He is here with me as I walk this path of going “home.”
The poppies are in full bloom everywhere including my backyard and their wistfulness comforts my heart.
Yes, we’re going home — home to the place where we took our wedding vows, where our first child was born, where grandpa and grandma live and others who love us. We’re packing up our bags with the hope and prayer that we will find the help we need.
It’s hard leaving the life we’ve come to know here in Europe – the house we spent years building room by room in a small village on the flatlands of central Czechia. We believe it’s temporary, and we’re trusting God to bring us back.
The mission of our life journey – the reason we ended up moving overseas to Czechia in the first place – was to win hearts for Jesus. Now that same reason is taking us back home because the hearts that God wants to win ultimately begin in our family.
Jesus dispelled the disciples’ doubts using Scripture and once he’d shown them, they said, “Were not our hearts burning with us?”
As I look to God’s Word, I’m comforted by His promises. And I make the choice to believe His truth. It’s going to be ok. Even this valley is part of his overall plan, though I may not fully see it right now. The truth is that Jesus lives and He loves me and my family.
In their sorrow, the disciples didn’t get the full Easter message but they finally came to a place where they saw and understood.
By His grace, I’m finally beginning to understand and I can live loved and trust this journey’s outcome to God.