Last night I was awake through the night deeply burdened and fervently praying for someone journeying though an oppressively dark valley. My heart ached with and for theirs as I cried out for God to be near to them, to lift them from the pit, and to allow them to see and experience His powerfully sustaining mercy and grace. As I prayed for that person, others who are also struggling and suffering came to mind one by one and I prayed for each of them as well. As I lingered in prayer Psalm 40 came to mind.
“…I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the LORD.” Psalm 40:1-3 [NASB95]
In an instant my heart was flooded with gratitude for the new song He has given me.
I don’t remember exactly when it happened, probably sometime around the end of the first year of Sarah’s absence, but I vividly remember the sting of realizing some had the expectation that it was time for me to no longer feel the pain of missing Sarah. There was certainty I would and should be healed, and the time had come for that to happen.
Our current Christian culture is one in which there is an expectation of total healing and deliverance right here and now. Suffering is tolerated for a season, but the affliction and resulting sorrow must not last beyond some randomly prescribed time. The expectation is clear and loud, you must be healed.
Our healing is absolutely certain in Christ Jesus, but the timing of it is not. Some wounds are not fully healed here, but are instead “bound up” for the remainder of the journey.
“He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 [NASB95]
Paul pleaded for healing from the “thorn” that tormented him, but the temporal deliverance he desired was not granted.
“Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 [NASB95]
I am not healed from the sorrow of Sarah’s death. My heart was shattered the day she died, and it remains shattered. But my God who promises to be near to the brokenhearted has compassionately gathered and bound the shards together.
He has patiently and gently cared for me in the depths of my brokenness. Like the Psalmist, He has lifted me and my tenderly and graciously bound heart from the pit, and set my feet upon The Rock.
Additionally, with each passing day He increasingly strengthens me to bear the pain of my sorrow, though it will not be removed this side of heaven.
Before Sarah died I sang a beautiful song of deliverance. The song of my God who delivered me from the weight and bondage of sin through the precious blood of Jesus. I still boldly and gratefully sing that song.
But He’s added to that a costly and treasured new song, the song of the sustained. The song of those who have been shattered and one day will be fully healed, but in the meantime have been tenderly “bound up.”
I am not ashamed to admit that I am not healed, that I am still broken. Like Paul, “I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” It is through my brokenness that I experience and know God’s sustaining power. It is of that power that I now sing.
Some don’t understand the song I sing. But I must sing none the less because to the broken and suffering each note resonates as the sound of Hope. Hope because the God of the universe has seen, heard, and sustained me, and continues to sustain me. And Hope that He will sustain them as well.
Whatever suffering or sorrow you bear, God can and will sustain you, but you must first cry out to Him. As you wait for Him, he will bind your wounds just as He has bound mine. As my song testifies, He is faithful and His Word is true. He will strengthen and sustain you “with all power according to His glorious might,” and in so doing He will give you a new song to sing as well.
I will never be thankful for Sarah’s death or the sorrow of her absence, but I am indescribably grateful for the new song that God has given me through it, the song of the sustained.
“For this reason also, since the day we heard [of it,] we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please [Him] in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” Colossians 1:9-12 [NASB95]
Come, Lord Jesus.