“The cross permits us to be the most honest community on earth.” (Paul Tripp)
“Faith is messy in the Psalms—not pretty. The blood and guts of faith are splattered on every page of the Psalms.” (Paul Tripp)
I’m always reflective, but I’ve been especially reflective of the past three years this month. Last time I was LIVE blogging for a Revive Our Hearts conference, I was at True Woman ’10. That was three years ago.
Then, I felt innocent—full of fresh exuberance, instinctively trusting. People tell me I am “more sober and more mature” now, but there’s more. Sometimes the weight of my pain makes me feel old. Vulnerability is now a conscious, deliberate choice. My heart feels like it’s stuck in a blender that never fully turns off.
I need help.
When I moved to Michigan a couple weeks ago, God impressed a few truths on me almost immediately:
- I’m finally in a safe place, where I can fully begin the process of healing.
- I need to seek counseling from a wiser, older woman.
- I can weep, and I can be weak, without jeopardizing God’s reputation of goodness.
Perhaps you’re in a similar place, or perhaps you have a friend who is. When I look out at this room, filled with close to 2,000 women, I know some of the stories and prayer requests. There is more heartache in this room than I know how to quantify.
But I’ve been struck by something this weekend: God is not threatened by our pain. His goodness is not threatened by our grief. His sovereignty, and our faith, are not diminished by tears. He doesn’t need us to cover our weakness to make Him look good—in fact, the truth is just the reverse.
Just after I wrote those words, Paul Tripp began his second message. As he’s talking right now, I’m astounded by how perfectly it syncs with what God’s been teaching me over the past few weeks. Instead of summarizing, let me just give you a few of my favorite quotes directly:
Biblical faith never requires you to deny reality. If you have to establish momentary, personal hope by denying reality, you are not exercising biblical faith. What I love about the Bible is that it’s shockingly honest and gloriously hopeful at the same time. The honesty doesn’t diminish the hopefulness—and the hopefulness doesn’t negate the honesty.
So stop denying reality. Stop telling stories that make life look better than it actually is and that make you look better than you actually are. Jesus doesn’t need you to defend His reputation with your functional lives. If you’re lying about your life—if you’re really good at non-answers—that’s not faith. That’s shocking religious self-ism.”
I can’t tell you how deeply balm-like those words are to me in all the rough crevices of my brokenness.
The speakers this weekend have been converging on several common themes, and one of them is transparency. God wants us to acknowledge our desperation—both to Him and to each other. We can’t move toward healing until we’re willing to be broken and vulnerable, at the end of our own resources, crying for help. I know I’m there right now, and have been there for some time now. I love that there is freedom in Christ to be weak, to be shattered, and to be honest about our devastation.
I love how God’s goodness is robust enough to handle the full, undiminished reality of suffering. I’m so grateful that He doesn’t need us to slap a glib platitude and smile onto the end of every confession of grief. I’m so grateful that He doesn’t need us to have ourselves together before we can spill out grace into the lives of others.
Later today I’ll post more reflections about suffering, with four incredibly practical application points—so make sure to check back later.