I have always believed that God does not waste our pain. That there is purpose in it– to refine us, to draw us closer and to bring Him glory. But there was a time, several years ago, that I thought He must not see me. I was certain that feeling of the rug being pulled out from under my feet was the fallout of God looking the other way for a second— taking His eyes off me.
I lost two different babies in the same week, four years apart. The first loss broadsided my joy like an eighteen-wheeler on black ice. The second time, grief wore clothes of disbelief. A repeat miscarriage hurt just as much as a first. My medical chart now contained the foul words, history of loss.
I sat in a familiar place, watching a happy procession of growing bellies — each followed by a smiling face. I sat waiting to walk through the same set of doors and hear what I knew to be true. More loss. Again. Compassion with a large helping of sad news and sympathy.
I was way beyond small. I was anonymous.
My hands ached to smash something. I needed to shout words of anger at a body that let go when it should have held on for nine full months. I seethed at the thought of not being hospitable to another new life.
I sat in my car and stared straight ahead at a tree on fire with Fall and watched the leaves dance all the way down to the hood. I sat there a very long time, until I thought I could open my hands and let Him have it all. The bottomless disappointment. The gut- wrenching sadness. The fear of next time. I prayed. I cried. I surrendered.
Then I attempted to walk away and leave my grief sitting there on the asphalt studded with Autumn. I intended to move forward holding only hope and peace and trust. But days later sadness rose in my throat; pain still seared through me white hot and stinging. I was genuinely shocked and aghast at my boomerang of grief.
Why do we think we are that strong?
Why do we think that grief and hope cannot exist alongside each other?
Why do we question what we know?
We forget that God is either sovereign or He is not. He is either sovereign over all, even the days that threaten to leave us crawling, grasping for hope— or He is simply, not. I believe that He is sovereign over all. I know in my heart and I read in His Word that He is El Roi, the God who sees.
His eyes aren’t searching for a place to land, a place void of awkward. He is looking straight at us.
He does not stand afar off, blushed and embarrassed at the depths of our sorrow. He comes and sits with us in the pain that weighs on our necks.
He sits near enough to whisper in our ear, “It will not always be so.”
I know there is always hope, there is always room to look up. I know there is always God with a purpose and a plan for our pain.
But still I know that grief takes time. Just as we cannot view His purpose in our pain, we cannot circumvent the process. We cannot muscle our way through grief and choose for it to be over. You and I cannot avoid the wait, the walk through to the other side.
We will always feel the effects of the curse of sin winding up around our feet as we walk toward home. Not made for this world, we often forget how inhospitable it can be to our souls that were carved for more. Angry with our grief, we may rely on our own ability to cope in record time and be frustrated we cannot take any side streets to being okay again.
But we simply cannot rush the process of pain.
In the crushing realization that it still hurts, therein is the need we have for Him. There is where He begins to do the work. Deep in the pain that isn’t yet fading, is the beautiful mystery that He is always doing something new.
I know now that it takes how ever long it takes. I know that time doesn’t heal pain; Jesus heals pain. We cannot rush what He does in our sadness. One day the waiting will be over. We will see with our eyes what we felt in our souls all along. We will agree with C.S. Lewis and say, “Things are far better ahead than anything we leave behind.”
“Things are far better ahead than anything we leave behind.” — C.S. Lewis
But today is not yet that day; we press on both in joy that is here in our laps and joy that is still on the way.
In times of uncertainty or disappointment and pain, I tend to make a lot of soup. During this particular season of hard, I utilized my slow cooker nearly every day. Though I am at home in the kitchen, nothing makes grief so acute as staring into a fridge at 5PM and hoping dinner materializes. My slow cooker always helps me forget the long wait. I focus on the ingredients for fifteen minutes in the morning and then forget until dinner time.
Slow Cooker Butternut Squash & Apple Soup is a comforting autumnal reminder that time is a gift and better things are coming at the end of the wait.
You have been reading an excerpt from Simmer, Six Seasonal Soups & the Stories that Inspired Them. Click below to download your free copy, including several other essays and all six recipes.