The oppressiveness of life can drape heavy, like a blanket over our backs. Not a blanket of comfort and warmth, but one weighing us down, like twenty pounds of despair covering our shoulders. Maybe you’ve been there and cried as if you were being flipped inside out…on the floor, heaving in a panic, fear ripping holes in your chest and tears flowing on and off for weeks, unexpected and uncontrollable. The nausea from loss, desires unmet, disappointment that squeezes out your breath or grief settling in to find a home in our bodies leave us pressed down. These are the dark nights of the soul and they come unleashing havoc on us like a swarm of bees, attacking. Sometimes we sit in it and wonder if a light will ever dawn.
Little do we know, here lies the prelude to songs of gratitude. Pain is often the set up for a thankful heart. Though we know in our minds it’s not true, we wonder if that acute ache will trap us for the rest of our lives. Severe anguish blinds us to hope and deafens us to the whispers of God.
But often times without warning, a small spoonful of grace is served up when we least expect it, right in the middle of the torment. Little did we know that the lack we have been mourning, the pain we have been wanting to escape, or the distress that has left us with such sorrow have prepped us to treasure the smallest gifts as though they were the size of the moon. A little water goes a long way for the thirsty.
Most often, though we wish it were not so, songs birth most beautifully from a place of suffering. We simply do not know the value of walking until we can’t walk. We don’t know the value of friendship until we have gone without it. We don’t know the value of a peaceful day until we have been wrecked with anxiety. We don’t know the value of health until we have endured chronic pain. We don’t know the value of laughter until we have been lost in depression. Genuine gratitude and hardship are not mutually exclusive.
What is most glorious is how – by this same recipe – God works worship into our numb hearts. I am sure, like me, you have seen your sin leave its wake across the lives of those you most love. In a state of panic we break knowing we can’t fix it, we can’t undo it and we can’t erase it from our souls. This is when forgiveness takes its full effect. When I see my sin for what it is, I am more thunderstruck by His mercy. This mercy, that is new every morning, leads me inevitably to personal stanzas of praise to God. How can I have one without the other?
So sit in the pain, feel the weight of your sin and when He comes to you with healing and forgiveness, you will rejoice as if you had been rescued. Because you have.
Dawn graduated from Messiah College with a degree in English and went on to get her master’s degree in Christian Counseling at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She presently works as a counselor and teacher in the high school at Covenant Day School in Matthews, NC and in her spare time likes to read, write and teach Bible studies. For the last 15 years her passion has been to mentor young women in life and Scripture. Dawn’s blog may be seen here: www.dawnfromphilly.blogspot.com.