Naomi’s husband took her and their sons to a foreign land due to a famine in Israel. She had to leave her home, family, and everything she’d known. Eventually, her husband died. Then a son died. Then her other son died. When she returned to Israel, she couldn’t even see the blessing of her daughter-in-law because of her grief. In fact, she told them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.” (Ruth 1:20) The older I get, the more I understand where Naomi was coming from and the less I judge her. (Note: I’m not validating her viewpoint; I’m just saying I understand why she felt this way.)
After losing my first husband, I was involved in a legal battle that drug on for years. During that time, I was constantly reminded of my husband’s death and the fact that he shouldn’t have died. My pain was always before me, and it was really difficult for those wounds to heal. Recently, I started a new chapter in life. I thought it would be a better, happier chapter. But God. He had other plans. Another loss. More pain. More tears. I confessed to God that I’m just so very tired of hardship. Maybe you’ve been there.
This brings me to my original question. How do I believe God is for me and really loves me when life hurts so much or for so long? The answer’s pretty simple really. We have to look no further than the cross. We are not alone in our suffering; Christ himself was well acquainted with suffering and grief. In the catechism questions my kids do, one of the questions is, “What kind of life did Christ live on earth?” The answer is, “A life of poverty and suffering.” He knows what it’s like to suffer, but he didn’t just live a life of suffering. He suffered in his death too, so that he could pay the price for our sins. When we look to the cross, we have a vivid reminder of how much God loves us.
How do we feel this truth though? How do we let it transfer from our minds to sink into our soul? First of all, we have to take every thought captive. We have to continually remind ourselves that God is for us and loves us because the enemy tries to tell us otherwise. The next thing we do is stay in the Word. We remind ourselves of the truth of Scripture. The final thing we do is pray. And we pray. And we pray. And we pray. We pray that the Lord would remind us of his love for us. We pray that he would give us comfort and peace when life is hard. We pray that he would help us to rely on his truth, not our emotions. Sweet friends, even when life is painful, God is for us and loves us with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3) We are never alone.
P.S. I was doing morning drop-off while I was writing this post in my head. It was lightly raining, and as I was turning, I saw a rainbow. It wasn’t really bright; just a faint splash of color against the gray sky. God gives us these beautiful and obvious reminders of his goodness; we just have to be open to seeing them.