These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation,
but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
I believe the Bible to true in its entirety. Every word. So when Jesus tells me that I will have tribulations in this world, I believe it. And at 36 years of age (...gasp! when did that happen), I have experienced some tribulations. But moreover, I have seen the people of this world-God's world, God's people-suffer trials and tribulations that leave me speechless (and believe me, I am rarely speechless-just ask my family).
God can take us to the mountaintop in life, but we often find ourselves (through God's purpose or our own missteps) in the valley of emptiness.
Some of my personal valleys have seemed almost endless:
- The loss of our Baby Sophie in 2010
- Job losses in 2014
- Giving up the home we built to be our "forever home"
- Loss of relationships-especially when it is due to hurtful words or experiences
- Financial struggles (this particular valley still seems pretty endless!)
- Marital conflict
- Chronic illness and pain
"When doubt, fear, anxiety, anger, and insecurity consume our hearts, emptiness takes up grand amounts of space." -Gwen Smith
When I first read this I had a hard time grasping the idea of emptiness filling up space. However, as I continued to read and mull over the concept, it started to make more sense to me, especially when I think if emptiness as air. Our hearts can be like a balloon, and when filled with the emptiness of doubt, fear, anxiety, anger and insecurity, there is no room left for love, compassion, kindness or anything else for that matter.
I struggled with significant doubt, insecurity and anxiety when I was younger. The emptiness that this caused led me to premarital sex, feelings of inadequacy (especially when it came to friendships and my relationship with my parents), and foolish financial decisions (still working on this one), drug and alcohol abuse, and other irresponsible and sometimes dangerous choices.
I was filling up my hurting heart with worldly emptiness.
It was not until I understood the difference between what the world was offering me and what God had to offer that I started releasing the empty air and allowing it to be filled with that difference-love.
The world offers us destruction from the enemy, God offers healing.
The world offers emptiness and death, God offers unconditional love and forgiveness.
The world tells us we are destined to be eternally bad, God offers us eternal goodness.
The world offers rejection, brokenness, and pain, God offers acceptance, love and hope.
The world tells us lies, God is truth.
I love the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel. This story has been a source of hope for me during times when I suffered infertility, miscarriage, and secondary infertility. I have found Hannah to be a beautiful and humble example of a Proverbs 31 woman. She truly was a woman after God's heart.
Three things strike me about how Hannah dealt with her struggle with barrenness:
- She cried out to God.
- She poured out her shame and emptiness.
- She spent serious, focused time praying to and worshiping the Lord.
"Hannah was 'no longer downcast' because she experienced the one and only life-changing God in the chamber of His presence. She welcomed God's peace to the extent that she did not withhold worship in her trial."-Gwen Smith
Hannah's depression was not relieved when she conceived Samuel. Her heart was lifted up once she met with God in the most honest, transparent way possible. She poured out the emptiness that was filling her heart so that God could fill it with hope and love.
"God can handle your anger, but be careful not to withhold your worship from Him. He is worthy in everything whether He chooses to give or take away." -Gwen Smith
Love & Prayers,