I am only starting to learn what it means to be brave in the midst of this mess that is called life — how to share from this trampled soul of mine; how to touch gentle with His redeeming love; how to pour out the overflowing grace and pour into that darkened place of a broken heart. But I know this: that though I am not, I know the I AM. I know the One who has set us free. And maybe we truly are building the walls of Jerusalem here — brick by brick, side by side and all the while, His brilliant grace will show us the way.
And Still She Laughs – Defiant Joy in the Depths of Suffering by Kate Merrick
Kate Merrick faced the challenge of doubting God’s goodness when her 5-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer and, three years later, went home to be with the Lord. In her book, Kate Merrick tackles the question of how to handle the hard things that God gives to us — and how God’s love for us can be seen in tears of sorrow and joy alike. And Still She Laughs looks at the lives of the resilient, gutsy women of the Bible and finds the surprising joy and deep hope even in the midst of heartache.
“Whether we are aware of it or not, we tie God’s love directly to the tangible presence of what we consider to be good things, but what if his care for us means something else entirely?” (Kate Merrick)
Kate Merrick tackles the hard question of whether God is good — and this is something I am sure we all think at one point or other in our lives. But she reflects on this out of her own experiences, and it means that this comes right from the heart. The conclusion she comes to is that in the midst of the darkness and in the depths of sorrow, God has given us joy and beauty.
In her book, Kate Merrick portrays in an honest way what the death of her daughter did to her heart, the painful and ugly moments that she had to live through — but she concludes that suffering can be our teacher, as the sufferer sees the world through different lenses now. There is beauty born out of suffering, and a different appreciation for the gifts that God gives us.
For other books I have reviewed on the blog, see here.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review program. The opinions expressed here are all my own; I was not required to write a positive review.
“Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.” (Joshua 21:45)
I read these words one morning in my devotions and I have kept thinking about this, how easily my heart starts failing when God takes His time with something He has spoken to me about. Doubts immediately rise when my timing is not met — and I forget that God sees it all, that His timing is always perfect. He is the God of the people of Israel back then, and He remains the same now. Not a word of any good thing, which the Lord has spoken, will fail. It will all come to pass, in His good timing.
Going back to University after a holiday has been hard, though. As in, incredibly hard. Whereas last month was full of exams, this month seems to be full of group projects — and, well, those are not my favorite. Still there have been so many good moments throughout the week: meeting up with my best friend, having good and encouraging conversations with other friends, seeing God move in people’s hearts, seeing God use me. So many good things, so many blessings.
Good reads for your soul:
Friendship is Messy Beautiful by Christine Hoover. Because, yes — friendship can be messy but friendship can also be absolutely beautiful. Oh, that we would all have it in our hearts to take the hard step and start encouraging each other freely, to create friendships in this way. So good.
How Shame Can Be Quietly Destroying Your Life by Susie Larson. Shame is something I know I so easily carry with me. The thing is, shame truly can be slowly and quietly destroying our lives as it drives us away from God and keeps us from the life that God intended for us. This is a very good read for all of us.
How to Fight for Faith in the Dark: Three Lessons for Depression. When we are depressed, it can be very difficult to have hope and to believe the promises given to us in the Scriptures. But what is important, is to see that faith is not a feeling and feelings are not necessarily facts. These are some very good words to read if you struggle with depression.
Trust God Through Your Tears. “The great thing about being broken is that if God is the Maker, he always puts us back together in a way that looks more like Christ than before.”
Disability Makes a Church Strong. My heart is saying yes so many times. This is so important.
It has taken me a long time to learn to be comfortable with vulnerability and transparency, to show the brokenness that takes residence in my heart. I am still learning, and the Lord, in His graciousness, keeps breaking my heart. More time than I would like Him to, and I am learning to be transparent and honest about that, too. It still takes everything that I have, to let the world see the bruised corners and crumbling walls of my heart.
What I have found, what no one tells you — is that the most exhausting thing to do is to live with a broken heart. Because a heart that has been broken and bruised, weighs heavier than anything else in this world. It carries all the pieces of the broken dreams and frozen hopes that we had to let go. It carries the streams of tears, all the sleepless nights and questions. It carries sorrow — so much of the heavy sorrow that can expand uncontrollably within the timespan of a minute.
What I have noticed in walking through seasons of brokenness, though, is that I am never the only one. No matter what brokenness my heart has held, there are always these beautiful people who have joined me, telling me, “I know. Me too.”
“What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
They will continue to grow stronger,
and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.” (Psalm 84:5-7 NLT)
I have to confess, I know so little about brokenness even now. Yes, in the days filled with self-pity I tell myself that I have had to walk through many a hard season, more so than I would hope for anyone to experience. Yet I know that is not true — because I have found immense beauty in brokenness.
You see, what no one tells you — is that broken hearts are the most beautiful ones. Broken hearts can become anything: brave, bold, soft, kind, gentle, loving, wise. Broken hearts can be all that — because they know pain, because they have walked on shattered pieces of a life but still held on to the remnants of hope. Broken hearts know the beating of the broken heart of our Savior, and they have known the gentle, scarred hands that held them together through every season.
In the days we are walking through the darkest of the valleys, it is difficult to see a purpose in our pain and brokenness. But our hearts know the One who is leading us forward, the One who holds our hearts — and He is good. So we know, so we can be certain that something better is coming, and He is making everything beautiful in His time.
“Who knows why God allows heartbreak, but the answer must be important enough because God allows His heart to break too.” (Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way)
David Mathis writes with wisdom: “If we are in Christ, God makes our pain a channel of his grace to bring about a deeper trusting and delighting in him. Without answering all our questions about pain in detail, we learn that God is greater, and his purposes more mysterious and wiser, than we can fathom; and that pain, in his good providence and plan, is his strange grace to draw us to him — not simply a question requiring an answer on our terms.”
So friend, if you are walking through a season of brokenness, of hurt and sorrow? If you are lost, doubts swirling around your mind and having a hard time finding a way? If you are ready to give up, to give in?
Yeah, me too.
But no matter what your heart holds today, no matter where you are in this moment — there is a purpose for your brokenness. There is a beauty becoming in your heart, a deeper understanding and trust of what is true. There is always hope, even though the storm is raging and it is difficult to see any glimpses of light right now. There is always hope.
Linking up: Modest Monday, Glimpses Link Up, Monday Meditations, Word Filled Wednesdays, Coffee For Your Heart, Coffee and Conversation, Wise Woman Linkup, #GraceMoments, Grace at Home, #HeartEncouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #FaithonFire, Grace & Truth, Moments of Hope Linkup