By Jennifer Carson

Grief can sometimes be like walking through a thick forest where you never know when the next tree branch is going to slap you in the face and knock you off your feet. For many of us, it is like being blind in unknown territory. We just have to feel our way along. There are no rules or guidelines, just a tremendous amount of pain. So what do we do with that pain? How do we manage it? Do we push through it or do we run from it?

Thankfully, we have a faithful and loving Father whose desire is not to harm us, but to give us a future and a hope. In Isaiah 42:16, He promises to lead the blind in ways they do not know, to guide them in paths they do not know; turning darkness into light before them and rugged places into plains. Isn’t that where we are; in the darkness and in rugged places? Don’t we long to be back in the light with a smooth surface under our feet? As His children, we can claim that promise and trust that He is going to walk with us and uphold us with His righteous right hand.

As I’ve struggled with the purpose of the pain in my life, He has finally given me an answer that satisfies me. Hosea 6:1 says “Come let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us; He has injured us but will bind up our wounds. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will restore us; that we may live in His presence”. This says to me is that He has a purpose. He longs for us to know Him intimately and to rest in His presence. Unfortunately, we often only get there through the pain in our lives. But He promises to revive us (from the valley of the shadow of death) and restore us (to the joy of His salvation). I believe the reviving comes through the grieving process and the restoration comes from allowing Him to use our pain to comfort others who are hurting.

However, before He can revive or restore us, we have to be WILLING to surrender our pain and not allow it to become an idol in our lives (where it is all we are focused on). In
II Corinthians 5:17-19, Paul says if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. Exchanging the old for new is possible only because we have been reconciled to God through Christ. He suffered on the Cross for us. The pain that we are feeling can be taken and laid at His feet and exchanged for His love, power and peace. As we leave it there, our holes are then able to be filled with God’s unfailing love and peace and we are reconciled to Him. I love the song that says, “I’m trading my sorrows, I’m trading my pain; I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord”. Isn’t that what we all want? To be rid of the pain and to have it replaced with joy? So how do we let it go? Try a simple prayer something like this…

Lord, I surrender my pain to You. I release it toYou for Your glory. Please take it from me. Fill the holes that are within me with Your unfailing love and peace. I pray that You would use it in some way to make a difference in this world. Thank you that Jesus has already suffered this loss for me. Thank you that I can release this pain to You, once and for all. Thank you that it can be replaced with your everlasting love.

The bottom line is God knows your heart. If you truly are at a point of surrender, He will take the pain from you and begin to heal your broken heart. Be prepared, He may at some point want to use it. My greatest admonition to you is to not be afraid, but allow Him that privilege. From my own experience, allowing Him to use my pain is what has brought the greatest amount of healing in my life. Jesus’ response to the man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years was to “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk”. Perhaps we should do the same. Pick up our pain and begin taking steps to walk forward with it, for His glory and our own personal healing.