By Melissa McLaughlin
I still remember that day. Rain poured down in buckets, drenching our hopes of playing outside. Like all kids on a rainy day, we were feeling antsy. To release some pent-up energy, my older brother and I began tossing a Nerf ball back and forth in the kitchen. It was an innocent game of catch. Joyfully, gently passing the ball to one another, first this way, then that way. A smile on our faces and a sparkle in our eyes. Giggles, laughter and cheers bubbled up with each successful catch.
But then, it happened.
The Nerf ball flew a few inches higher than expected. I leaped up, stretching my arms back behind my head but instead of catching the ball, my hands gripped an antique heirloom soup tureen that was setting on top of the refrigerator. This precious bowl with its matching lid had been passed down from my grandmother to my father. As if in slow motion, I watched the delicate dish tumble through my hands and crash onto the floor, clattering, shattering and scattering like a jar of spilled marbles.
My parents came running to see what happened. The room grew quiet. My brother spoke up and took the blame, explaining that he accidentally threw the ball too high. I confessed my part, as well, being the one who knocked the soup tureen from its place of revered display and expected safety.
Neither Dad nor Mom spoke a word. Our eyes glistened with sorrow and remorse at what we had done. Mom tenderly picked up the pieces while we whispered softly with pleading hope, asking if the dish could be glued back together. In a quiet voice, my dad said that was not possible.
I still remember the lovely details of the soup tureen. A graceful pink floral design was painted on the sides, the handles were elegant and flowing, the edges trimmed in a thin line of gold paint. The irreplaceable dish was broken beyond repair. Irreplaceable not because of its monetary value, but because our grandparents were no longer living. There were no more heirloom gifts to be passed on.
Though it was only an object, it was a symbol of family love and the loss left a lingering sadness.
There are times in our lives, however, when the loss is greater still. When the loss involves more than an object. When everything falls apart and cannot be put back together.
When the health diagnosis is grim. The relationship with your loved one has been irreparably ripped. You are betrayed by the one you trusted most. The addiction or sinful habit you thought was defeated rears its ugly head and takes you back down with it. The hurts or failures of the past seem to swirl before your eyes no matter where you look. Your once secure job, business or ministry disintegrates before your eyes. You are no longer able to pay the bills. The pain, the tears, the heartache, the fear just won’t stop.
Though you cry out to God, the sound of your voice falls flat. The deepest prayer of your heart goes unanswered, day after day after day.
If you have not experienced this yet, one day you will, for though we are loved by the Lord, we are not yet in the perfection of heaven.
What do we do when everything falls apart?
We reach deeper for God than ever before.
During some of the toughest times in my life, I found myself reaching farther for Jesus than I knew I could. Here are seven strategies that helped me cling to Him in those most difficult seasons. I pray they are a blessing to you.
1.When you cannot say anything else, say the name of Jesus. Jesus. Out loud. Jesus. Whisper it over and over to yourself. Jesus. Simply letting His name slip through your lips helps you remember the great suffering Jesus endured, out of love for you. More than anyone else, Jesus knows what it feels like to hurt. He gave His life for you, so you could be near Him always.
2.Read the Psalms aloud. The poems and songs written in the book of Psalms express a range of emotions from highest praise to deepest despair. These holy scriptures can become the prayer you are not able to articulate for yourself. Psalm 61 is one excellent example.
3.Remind yourself of two things: God is powerful. God is good. This is a verse I say to myself every day, to help anchor my soul in these two truths. Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. When you can’t see His power or goodness at work in your life, write this verse on a piece of paper and hang it on your bathroom mirror or car dashboard. God’s power and God’s goodness are on full display in the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. Let that truth become bigger in your vision and thinking.
4.Sing or play a praise song. Not just any song, but a Christ-exalting praise song. One of my favorites is a simple chorus I learned as a teenager, Jesus is Lord of All by Keith Green. This helps turn my prayers from pleading to praising. Even saying out loud, “Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Lord,” I reorient my mind from my sorrows to His glory. One day, every tear will be wiped away and all we will know is this reality, that Jesus is Lord! We can access a taste of that even now, when we praise Jesus through our tears.
5.Ask a mature and trusted Christian friend to pray for you and pray with you. It’s not enough to simply ask someone to pray for you. Though you want to know they are praying for you in the days and weeks ahead, there is nothing like hearing someone pray aloud with you, right here, right now. This enables you to listen as they call to the Lord on your behalf, bringing a peace and comfort that adds something special, going beyond your own private prayers.
6.Write out a list of all of the blessings in your life. Begin with the easy things. You have food, shelter, clothing. You have a measure of health. Family, friends, loved ones. Jesus died to forgive your sins. Try to list at least 10 things. Once you start writing, you may be surprised how quickly you can fill a page of paper. Gratitude does not solve every problem, but it can lift a heavy heart.
7.Read the Bible like your life depends on it. Because it does. As you read, jot down scriptures that capture your heart. These scriptures can become your deepest soul prayer. To find out more about this powerful prayer strategy, please read my book: In Dark of Night When Words Fail, Voice of Jesus Pray for Me. This prayer guide came out of the tough times in my life when I found I had no voice left to pray. If you are in a difficult place or if you want to infuse your prayers with the power of God’s Word, please consider reading this book.
What do we do when everything falls apart?
We reach deeper for God than ever before. In this way, even the most broken parts of our lives can be a gift of eternal value. A painful, beautiful, eternal gift.
Please join me in prayer.
How we praise You! For You are the Creator of the heavens and the earth. Each star in the night sky that twinkles its light, every tree that towers in its rooted strength, every tiny butterfly with its gentle journey speaks of Your beauty, Your strength, Your power. We thank you for demonstrating the greatness of Your power and powerful love through Jesus! Thank you, Jesus, for living, suffering and dying to forgive us of our sins. Eternity will not be long enough to thank you! Holy Spirit, we ask you to move through every part of us, even now, in this very moment. We ask you to meet us in our pain, meet us in our sorrow, meet us in our weakness and brokenness and help us draw near you. Show us areas where we need to grow. Draw us to Yourself through Bible reading, prayer and songs of praise. Let us experience the joy, peace and strength that only comes by abiding in You. Help us keep our eyes on Jesus, so the joy of our salvation and the joy of heaven will always be ours. We love you, oh Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
~Photo at top courtesy of Pixabay.
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