“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. . . Jesus wept.” (John 11:33, 35 NIV)
Friend to Friend
I was in a season I call “scarred.” Scars on my heart as a grown child struggled. Scars on my physical body as I went through breast cancer a second time. Scars spiritually as every time I took a deep breath and thought we were out of the woods, something else hit hard.
This can be the exact time a well-meaning person might say something like this: “You shouldn’t feel that way.”
Yet the reality is you do feel that way. You are sad. You are uncertain. You might even be angry.
One colossal joy stealer is the belief that our feelings somehow disappoint God. When this is our belief, we switch to control mode. We create a plan. We put on a mask. We tell people we are doing fine and fall part in private. The more we try to control or hide those feelings, the less in control we really are. This creates a cycle that drags us deeper into sadness.
We try to hide our feelings, but they are still there.
Which makes us worry that we aren’t doing this “right.”
Which can cause us to distance ourselves from God, when we need Him the most.
Which makes us feel more isolated and alone.
In that season called “scarred,” I learned a beautiful truth: God cares about how we feel.
In John 11, Jesus is called to be at the side of his friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Lazarus is sick but when Jesus arrives, Lazarus is already dead and in a tomb. Lazarus’ sisters are mourning the loss of their brother.
Martha asks Jesus, “Where were you?”
“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. . . Jesus wept.” (John 11:33, 35 NIV).
Jesus knew what Mary didn’t know. Her brother was about to bust out of the tomb, alive and whole. Yet he didn’t shame or rebuke Mary or Martha for their feelings. He didn’t tell them to “have faith.” He didn’t scold her for her question of, “Where were you, Jesus?”
That’s stunning. Jesus, even knowing the outcome, was troubled at their hurt and stepped into that hurt with them.
In this past year, God saw His daughter, a woman with a hurting heart. I wasn’t judged by Him. He didn’t see me as weak because I was sad or conflicted. He didn’t ask me to pretend that everything was okay. Rather than being “wrong,” those feelings were valuable indicators. They let me know where I needed Him the most.
One definition of joy is “consciously walking into God’s love and care.”
Joy takes place, even in sorrow, as we refuse to hide anything from God because our relationship with Him is an intimate one.
We aren’t just living for Him. We are living with Him.
We are honest with God because we need Him. Not tomorrow. Not the next day. We need Him in the midst of that snot-nosed-I-don’t-know-what-to-do moment and all the days to follow.
Give yourself permission to feel, sweet sister.
When you invite God, who is mighty, all-knowing, and all-seeing, to join in the battle with you, the chaos might still be going on in your outside world, but you are asking Him to quiet the chaos in your soul. That in itself altars the battle from the inside out.
Being honest with God is a strong move. We are not just giving ourselves permission to feel, but we are giving ourselves permission to heal.
Heavenly Father, I have been pushing down these feelings rather than bringing them to You. Thank You that You take the time to weep with me.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Get alone with God and write down the answers to these two questions. Share your answers with your God who loves you more than you can imagine.
Lord, I feel. . .
God, the one thing I want You to know is this. . .
More from the Girlfriends
Joy can feel elusive when defined by how you feel in a given moment or what your circumstances are at the present.
Suzanne’s newest book, JoyKeeper: 6 Truths that Change Everything You Thought You Knew About Joy, will help you redefine joy from an up-and-down feeling to who God is in the right now. It is an interactive personal study, allowing you to pause and take the truths deeper. It contains a Bible study guide for groups, and a 30-day devotional to help you know joy, keep joy, and live joy.
© 2021 by Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.