One Monday morning several weeks ago, I was going about my usual weekday routine of packing lunches and getting everyone ready to be sent off to school. I usually check the weather on our local TV news channel to make sure the kids are dressed appropriately. This Monday morning, the big story was about a massive tornado that had torn through a town in Oklahoma, USA and in its path were two elementary schools. I found myself suddenly angry at God! There are times in life when it seems that it is just one hard thing after another, and lately there had been a lot!
The Bible instructs us to bear one another’s burdens – we weep with those who weep, and with instant news, and social media interactions, we are made aware of many things that cause us to weep. I hadn’t really noticed, but the bearing of burdens from hearing about other people’s hardships was starting to feel heavy. There are the hard things we all hear about: school shootings, earthquakes, flooding, forest fires, bombings at a marathon, terror trying to settle in, the disappearance and then murder of a husband and father over a truck for sale on kijijji!! Tragedy after tragedy; disaster after disaster! Evil seems to lurk at every corner.
Then there are the events we hear about and pray about in our own circles like a neighbour whose cousin has cancer (who is a wife, and mother of young children) and she dies. A friend has a son with leukemia; they were having a really hard week. You hear about their new life in a world of cancer and now you are so much more aware of the suffering of young children in a hospital only an hour away from your home. There's the mother of the young teen who commit suicide a year ago, and every time you see her around town, it breaks your heart and you can't even imagine how she goes on. Cancer comes back to a loved one; people struggle with job losses and financial hardships; marriages and families fall apart; a friend wavers in her faith; people suffer from anxiety and depression; addictions hurt families; teens (and adults) commit suicide and parents/families are left with terrible holes in their hearts. There is always someone you know who is going through something hard. Heartache, grief, despair - no one is immune . . . and then a tornado hits in Oklahoma! Well that was just the last straw for me! It’s too much God! It’s too much! I was angry!
I turn the news off - I can’t look. But I imagine it anyway: parents who have had their precious children torn from their lives. Really God? Okay, I get the free will part. I get sickness – well not really. But a tornado? You, who are God almighty couldn’t have steered that tornado through a corn field?! It’s hard, Lord. So hard. We hurt when others hurt. It’s hard to understand when prayers aren’t answered like we’d hoped. Sometimes it becomes too much to bear. My heart just wants to turn away.
Music is the one thing that often helps me get back into a right place with God. I sang along to words of praise and worship and it felt false. Ever been there? I read a blog by Ann Voskamp, one of my favourite authors. That day she wrote about the storm in Oklahoma and God’s heart when his people hurt. It didn’t help. I was still angry! I felt the heaviness. The sobs and tears unleashed. Still feeling the weight of my anger and sadness, I talked with a friend who reminded me that we live in a fallen world, and these things have been prophesied. She said it hurts God’s heart too, but these happenings are the groans of the earth until He comes again. Not feeling much better, I went for a walk with another friend. She told me about some stories she’d heard about the tornado – about teachers who had prayed with their students and how they survived. I started reading comments on blogs written about the tornado, and the responses from people who had lived through or near the tornado astounded me. They weren't angry with God; they were clinging to HIM! So much faith!
Finally near the end of that day, I realized that in my compassion and grief for those who were hurting, what I really was doing (and had been for a while), was carrying the weight of the world - and it was feeling really heavy! It took me to the end of the day to remember that it’s not mine to carry, this weight of the world. Christ already took it upon himself that day on the cross. So I gave it back to him.
That was my breakthrough through the dark, through the anger at not being able to see God's true heart. We're not asked to carry the weight of the world's sorrow and pain. We're asked to pray, to stand along side those who have lost hope. We can fast when we feel led to, and pray for those feeling lost and desperate so that they will have the faith and strength to regain their footing.
Have you ever felt that the sorrows of this world were too much to bear? When we look at all the sorrows and hardships of this life from the perspective of the cross - knowing that Christ already took all of it upon himself - we are freed from that role of weight bearer. All the positive thinking and happy thoughts can do nothing to overcome that kind of heaviness, but the cross of Christ – it changes everything because of what follows: the resurrection of Christ! Because of the cross, we also have hope for resurrection from every dark and heavy thing in our lives.
Because of the cross, a marriage can be healed, restored, redeemed and made new!
Because of the cross, towns and cities destroyed can come together and rebuild while at the same time, hearts and relationships will become stronger!
Because of the cross, we are not consumed by fear, or despair.
"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms . . . " Ephesians 1:18-20
What is your 'because of the cross' hope today, or what has God done in your life that was only possible by His ressurection power living in us?
Umbrella Thoughts are thoughts written and inspired while walking through life under the umbrella of God's amazing Grace! We'd love to hear your stories too, so please join in and share! If you are hurting, then we'd like to pray for you. Let us know in the comments or send us an email. We have access to so many amazing products: Bibles, books, music . . . if you would like recommendations for products, we can help you with that - just ask.