We’re in the midst of a five-week series, sharing excerpts like this one from Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real-Life Engagement. We’re excited to read through a few chapters, complete challenges, and experience our first (in)courage book alongside you! Each Tuesday we will share part of a chapter, as well as challenges we will all aim to complete by Friday; and each Thursday at noon (12:00 pm CST), we’ll broadcast a Facebook Live video with the author of that week’s chapter. For more information, click here.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
He Knows and He is Near
We lived in a hotel suite for three weeks while we waited to move into our new house. It sounds much more glamorous (and like the premise of a tween sitcom) than it truly was. My husband, myself, our two young children, our two big dogs, and most of our belongings, were all squeezed into about 350 square feet. It was hard and the days were long, but we tried to stay focused on the light at the end of the tunnel, which would be moving into our new house. This move and the new house were an answer to many of our prayers, after all, and living in the hotel was just temporary.
But change is hard. Waiting is hard. Cramped quarters are hard. And let’s just be honest, moving is hard. Sometimes it feels like hard begets hard.
One day in the midst of change, waiting, and non-glamorous hotel living, I loaded the kids into the car and set out in desperation to find something familiar: Starbucks. I drove around in what would be our new neighborhood, certain to find a Starbucks at any of the major intersections. Every time I would spot a Starbucks sign with the beloved green Mermaid of Coffee, it would be on the opposite side of the road or in a parking lot so poorly marked I couldn’t find the entrance. It was so frustrating and the last thing I needed in that moment was more hard. If I could just get my hands on a nonfat vanilla latte, I thought, everything would be okay. I could drown my sorrows in espresso.
After too many wrong turns and no lattes, I finally pulled into a grocery store parking lot, took a deep breath, and let the tears fall. I put my face in my hands and sobbed. My kids sat in shocked silence, watching me from the back seat. Minutes passed and the tears kept coming. “I’m okay, kids,” I assured them, “everything is going to be okay.” When I said it, though, it was more of a prayer than a fact.
I tried to pinpoint my problem. What was causing this breakdown? Why the tantrum? Was I really crying because I couldn’t find a Starbucks? No, I realized, that would be ridiculous. I was crying because all the hard had finally piled up too heavy and I was being crushed beneath the weight of it all. I was at the end of my own strength and I was breaking. Just before I slipped into a self-hosted pity party, I whispered in my spirit “Jesus” and remembered that He was near.
The moment that realization set in, the moment my focus shifted from my crushing circumstances to my Heavenly Father, was the moment my healing began. In a desperate prayer, God helped me fight off fears and lies and reminded me of His love and truth. My heart was racing and all the emotions flooded, but I knew what I had to do.
I had to calm my spirit down so that I could hear the Lord whisper, “I am here.” It was as though the life raft was right in front of me the whole time, but I couldn’t see it through my own splashes.
I definitely felt like life had kicked me in the gut that day, and not being able to find a coffee shop was the final low blow that had me tapping out. I didn’t need a latte. What I needed was peace, hope, and comfort. What I needed was Jesus. As I sat in the car and cried out to God through my tears, He helped me catch my breath. I was lonely and literally lost in this new place, but God was with me all along. Right then, as I clung to my life raft that is Jesus, I was certain of nothing else but His presence and sovereignty. His peace covered me.
Can you relate? Have you had days that left your spirit crushed? It’s in those times when our spirits are crushed and we feel life’s low blows that God’s presence and comfort is so real it’s almost tangible. When we are discouraged and our hearts are hurting, His nearness is undeniable. Just before we tap out, if we call out His name and lift our eyes, we can see hope and rescue within our reach.
His Word is what held me together when it felt like all else was falling apart. In that season when everything seemed unstable, unknown, and hard, His promises were sure. My spirits were crushed, but I found hope when I sought the Lord.
He’s there for you, too, friend. In every hurt, every hard day, every disappointment, and every heart break God is near and He wants to comfort, heal, strengthen and rescue you. When you are lonely or lost, whether literally or figuratively, the Lord holds out His hand to reassure you of His presence. He is hope. He is always there to rescue those whose spirits are crushed. Stop splashing and reach for the life raft. Call out His name.
- What is your “latte” – your false sense of comfort? What would it look like to reach out to a friend instead of reaching for a latte (or your choice of temporary comfort) the next time you’re upset?
- Look for two or three Scriptures or song lyrics to remind yourself that God rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Keep them where you can easily see them and look for moments to share them with a friend who might need an encouraging word.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I can so relate to your story. Having just moved from the east coast to a town in the mid west where I knew no one, with a 3 month old baby (my first), in the frigid throws of January, I remember it all pouring in on me (hormones not helping). I sobbed into my pillow while my daughter napped. I remember, like you, the only word/name I could get out between sobs was “Jesus”. It’s amazing when anguish cuts down to our very bones, our prayer become very simple. When the rubber meets the road, my prayers are not eloquent, they are gutteral – the groans of the Holy Spirit within me. “Jesus”….when I get to the end of my rope of self sufficiency, His name become my earnest prayer. I wish I could say that everything was instantly okay or peace totally washed over me…it didn’t, but I had a comforting “knowing” that Jesus was there….He saw and heard me….things would not instantaneously be okay, but He was in control and He had this. Things eventually began to look upward, but as I waited, I knew I wasn’t waiting alone. I can have all the wonderful connection and community in the world, but if I don’t have it with my Savior….then I am still alone. Thank you for a real and touching post…
ps. To answer your question, I can let my work and my human friendships become substitutes for the relationship I have with Jesus. Starbucks can soothe minor temper tantrums though 😉
laura Crosby says
Great post, Erin! Psalm 34:18 was that exact verse that the Lord whispered to me when years ago, in a deep pit of despair, I cried out to Him, “You’ve pushed me beyond what I can take!”
Thanks for the reminder to identify our false sense of comfort!
Thank-you for touching me with your words Eryn. You have reminded us that we are not alone, no matter the despair. During hard times He has carried me, and I am extremely grateful.
Have a blessed day all,
Beth Williams says
I remember last January (2016) when my dad’s dementia got really bad. He was hospitalized for one month. I would come home from visiting him and cry out to Jesus “why oh why Lord can’t he just die–everyone else seems to”. I was frustrated with not knowing what to expect next. It was hard! After one month of that & one month of rehab he was back to normal. He could go to assisted living again. God had allowed me to see a miracle!!!
One song that I cling to is “God is in Control”. My latte is junk food & wine. I would come home & drink small amounts of wine & eat some pretzels, chips. It helped me relax some. I know that God is the only one who can fix it all. I would pray a lot aloso.
Bridget Lynch says
Remembering to cry out to The One that holds our hearts is so tough sometimes. I have learned to look at the “big picture” in 2017. It’s not all about me and what I want. It’s about God and what He wants to do THROUGH me. Thank you for your encouraging words. I have shared Psalms 34:18 many times with those that have lost loved ones. But it takes on another meaning when I am in my own mess and chaos. But those words are a promise of His comfort and peace.
Today is one of those days, my spirit is distraught … I have a silent scream and my head is spinning. I know things have to change!!
I feel my challenge is to reach out to God and not reach out to a friend. My first response to challenging things is to reach out to a friend, my sister, someone human – to talk it through, to complain, to cry. But over the past year, I have felt that God is wanting me to take it all to Him first. I find it challenging and sometimes not as comforting just because I don’t have a human response commiserating with me.