Are you in a place of brokenness or weariness and in need of God’s healing?
Here are eight ways to find hope when life hurts:
1) Remember: Jesus wept, too.
Choose to believe that God hurts with you, that as your perfect heavenly Father, He longs to take you in His arms and hold you. One of the shortest verses in the Bible is also the most poignant: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).
As Jesus stood beside Mary and Martha at the tomb of their brother, Jesus cried, even though He knew He was about to raise his friend Lazarus from the dead. Jesus cried out of compassion and empathy—the same compassion He has for you in your time of grief.
2) Realize God is bigger than your pain.
Rest in the assurance of Psalm 56:8: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” God is not a God who’s far off; rather, He’s a Father who longs to draw near to us in our seasons of pain.
The Egyptian slave Hagar learned this fact when she fled to the desert and saw God for herself. She was the only woman in the Bible to name God, and what did she call Him? “El Roi,” the God who sees me. This same all-seeing God—the God who crafted the cosmos—is big enough to handle our pain, if we’ll hand it to Him.
3) Hold onto God’s promises.
Scripture tells us that God will never, ever leave us (Hebrews 13:5) and that no one can snatch us out of His hand when we believe in Jesus (John 10:28). With His help, we can find the grace to move out of our pain into the light. The Old Testament heroine Ruth did this, choosing compassion and courage over fear and grief when she left her homeland and accompanied her mother-in-law to Israel.
As we walk with Him, we begin to see that, in fact, God Himself is the light that leads us through the darkness. We don’t have to live in the darkness of bitterness or anger. We can grab hold of the light and face the very things that are causing us grief because we’re not alone.
4) Replace lies with God’s truth.
Reject lies from the enemy, such as “I’m not good enough” Or “I will never be happy,” and replace them with the truth of scripture. Any time you notice a negative thought creeping into your brain, review God’s truth and realize the lies directly contradict the Word of God. Over time, God will begin to heal your faulty thinking and you can find freedom. His word is a living, powerful thing!
5) Be honest with God.
When you’re hurt or disappointed in Him, tell Him so. Mary of Bethany had this kind of relationship with Jesus. And rather than scold her when she admitted her disappointment, Jesus embraced her. He’s big enough to handle your pain, and He already knows your heart. Why not share everything with Him?
6) Walk in forgiveness.
Have you done the right thing and still been hurt, betrayed, or abused? Often when this happens, we get stuck, rehearsing the hurt over and over and building up a “case” against the offender. Instead of clinging to bitterness, anger, or hate, offer your wound to God as a sacrifice, and trust Him to deal with the one who hurt you. With His help, you can—over time—find freedom from the chains of your past.
7) Trust that He will heal your weary and broken heart.
Bathe yourself in the truth that because Jesus stared down death on the cross, He took away its power forever. Those who believe in Him need not fear physical death. We don’t have to grieve like those who have no hope. Remember, Jesus never left a funeral without raising the dead to life.
He released the woman with the issue of blood from twelve years of illness, pain, and financial strain. After he freed Mary of Magdala from seven demons, she followed Him for the rest of His ministry and was the first to see Him after His resurrection. Friend, our Savior can resurrect your weary, wounded heart. More than that, He longs to do so.
Need more encouragement? Check out Dena’s book, Wounded Women of the Bible: Finding Hope When Life Hurts. Or head on over to the Books page to see more of Dena’s work.
[Author’s note: thanks to my friend and co-author Tina Samples for her input on this piece. It originally appeared on BeliefNet. Read more of her writing over at tinasamples.com.]