Last week, I did one of the most difficult things of my life.
A friend of mine from church who has suffered with chronic pain made the desperate decision to end his own life. I got the call from his heartbroken sister. I learned that my friend's mother didn't yet know the tragic news. I felt that I needed to be part of walking with this family through their darkest hour, so I volunteered to go with with the siblings and tell my friend's Mom that her son had died.
It was a surreal experience. There's nothing natural about a parent having to bury a child (at any age). It creates the kind of wound in a parent's heart that never fully heals on this side of heaven. I held his heartbroken mom as she wailed over the loss of her son. I prayed with her and her family, and despite the raw emotion and broken hearts, God penetrated the darkness with an unexplainable peace.
As a pastor, I've celebrated with people during the most joyful moments of life (births of babies, weddings) and I've grieved with others in their moments of unspeakable tragedy. In those moments of despair, I've learned some lessons that have given me peace and perspective in those moments when all hope seems lost.
If you're facing heartbreak, depression or difficulty in any area of life, I pray these words bring you hope and comfort as well.
7 things to remember when your heart is broken:
1. God has a plan
On this side of heaven, we probably won't see how all the broken pieces of our lives are being put together to create something beautiful, but faith gives us the strength to believe in God's promises even when life doesn't seem to make sense.
When I'm worried it's usually because I'm trying to do everything myself. When I'm at peace, it's usually because I remember that God is in control.
2. Take time to grieve (but not too much)
Sometimes we think crying is a sign of weakness, but I see tears as a gift God gives us to help us process pain in a unique way. It's okay to cry and grieve, but don't say in the grieving process too long, because grief is like a sauna...staying in it for short periods can be healthy, but staying in it too long can be dangerous.
3. All pain is temporary
This tough season you're in is a temporary season. It may feel like it will last forever, but it will pass. Don't lose hope. God's timing is rarely the same as our timing, but His timing is always perfect. Trust him.
4. God is not distant from our pain
For me, one of the most comforting verses in the Bible is the shortest verse of all. It simply says, "Jesus wept." Those two words give me hope, because I'm reminded that we have a Savior who isn't distant from our pain.
5. You may not get "over" this, but you WILL get through this
Some tragedies leave wounds that never fully heal on this side of heaven, but even though you may always carry a scar from this, God will carry you through this and bring healing and hope. Give God the broken pieces of your heart, and He will create something beautiful with them in time. God said that everything would work out - not that everything would make sense. Trust him.
6. You are growing stronger through this
We feel weak in our pain, but we're actually growing stronger as we endure it. One of the only things that we can experience in this life that we won't be able to experience in heaven, is pain and the growth that always come through it. Easy days bring rest. Difficult days bring growth. Each day is a gift from God.
7. You are not alone
Grief makes us feel isolated and alone, but those feelings are an illusion. You have many people who love you and you have a Savior who has promised to never leave you or forsake you. Don't lose hope. God will carry you through this.
This article was originally published on Patheos. It has been republished here with permission.