Where do you run to when the doors close off? And who do you call on when it all goes wrong? The devil is telling me to feed my fears. “Why don’t you pack your bags and disappear?” I’d rather give it to God.
I lost my dad in a car crash when I was a teenager. He was a family man, a businessman, and most importantly a disciple of Christ. In an instant, my mother lost her husband, and my sisters and I lost our father.
Suicidal thoughts ran through my mind on a daily basis. Killing myself seemed like the easiest option to deal with the pain. My father and I had planned a number of things — from music business to family security — but it seemed at the time that these things were no longer a possibility. To date, this is the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with — and I’ve dealt with a lot.
At this point in my life, I thought giving God everything meant going to church, reading my Bible, and praying. But when faced with the reality that God wants more than twenty minutes of my day or a day of the week, the foundation I stood on was shaken.
Since I had placed God in a box, I didn’t have a category for him in my pain and suffering. School, love, family, friendships, food, and even pain were my responsibility. I knew that he was supposed to comfort those who were suffering, but when I was confronted with misery, I thought that it was my job to deal with it.
Believing the Lie
What do you do when you have wept and cannot weep anymore? What do you do when everything crumbles and falls right in front of you? If we are honest, our initial response is not to pray, nor is it to run to God. We are not quick to say, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15).
I knew the Scriptures. I knew that God is the “Father to fatherless and defender of widows” (Psalms 68:5). But I wrestled with that reality in the moment. Instead of listening to God, I listened to myself. I believed Satan’s lies and wallowed in my fears and depressive thoughts. I didn’t know that I didn’t have to carry this burden alone.
But one day I opened the Scriptures: “You shall love the LORD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Matthew 22:37). Eventually I understood that loving God meant that I was to love him with everything that was in me. God doesn’t simply want a day or even an act — God wants to be cherished and glorified in everything I do.
He wants me to lay everything at his feet, including my pain. In order to love God at all, I must give him my all. I could no longer simply include God in what I knew belonged to him. Just as he declares that every square inch of this universe exists under his sovereignty, so does every aspect of my life — including my pain.
God Wants Your Pain
Along with everything else in my life, God wanted me to trust him with my pain. He wanted me to be vulnerable with him and trust that he would deliver me out of my despair. He pursued my hard heart. He wanted me to rest in his sovereignty. He wanted me to rest in his fatherhood. He began to display what it truly meant for him to be a “father to the fatherless.”
We pray “our Father in heaven” but often struggle to believe he’s truly good. We wrestle to see God as warm, gracious, kind, patient, and loving. We envision God as a tyrant, with a big stick in heaven, beating us on the head when we do wrong.
Jesus, the God-man, corrects our damaged understanding of the Father. He says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:11). God is so good that when humans are comparatively mentioned in the same sentence, we have to be referred to as evil. He’s that good.
Give It to God in Prayer
This is why Jesus, in the previous chapter, teaches, “This is how you should pray” (Matthew 6:9). He teaches us to run to our Father. The fatherhood of God reminded me that though my earthly father had passed, my heavenly Father loved me dearly, and I could cast my burdens and sorrows upon him.
I finally learned to give my problems and pain to God. We live in a fallen world — a world that groans for the return of the Savior. Pain will exist from the cradle to the grave, but even in this, God invites us to know him and be comforted through prayer. There is a peace that surpasses all understanding that is readily available for those who make everything known to God in prayer (Philippians 4:6–8). Through prayer, intimacy with Christ is readily available for the weary and heavy-laden (Matthew 11:28).