Some of us mistakenly think God keeps track of our sins. We resist going to God because we're afraid He'll see and know what we've done – things He'll disapprove of. But God says, "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more" (Hebrews 8:12).
Some of us believe God keeps a record of our good works. We chart our progress and even look to religious authority figures for the thumbs-up that our lives are acceptable to God. But Scripture says that even "our righteous acts are as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). God looks at our good deeds and sees no merit in them and no reason to keep track of them, but rather credits righteousness to us (Romans 4:6, 22-24).
It's not that our actions don't matter to God – they do. But what God actually records are our laments! He hears our cries and cherishes our tears: "You keep track of my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book" (Psalm 56:8 NLT). God keeps track of our pain and struggles, but He never uses them against us. Instead, He holds our laments lovingly until we come to Him for solace. God invites us to let Him into the pain we've been skipping over.
This is the kind of relationship that God desires to have with His children. Our tears move God to extend compassion toward us. Bible teacher and speaker Lisa Harper brought this into focus for me: "Our ache accelerates Jesus' compassion." Our need does not repel Him! It unleashes incredible compassion. I don't know about you, but I could really benefit from a love like that.
The healing process is painful. Acknowledging pain is painful! But the prophet Isaiah tells us it is by the Messiah's wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). The wounds of Christ were painful too. Jesus feels our pain with us, which is precisely why He is the One who is able to heal us.
Pain can serve a purpose if pain leads us to Him.
Christ carried the pain of this world so we no longer have to. God is not the author of pain, but He can bring new life when death is at our door. God is a safe person – the safest person! – to go to when life is falling apart. He is right there to catch us every time in His comforting arms.
God gives us full permission to lament. I had to be broken before I could truly learn this, but my heart's desire for you is that you won't have to. God wants your sad so He can transform it with His hope. He wants to bless you in your most broken places.
May our laments open our eyes to show us that God's thoughts toward us are good, His love toward us is great, and He blesses us and draws near us even in our most broken places.
Esther Fleece joins James and Betty this Monday on LIFE TODAY. This is an excerpt from No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece. Copyright ©2017 by Esther Fleece. Published by Zondervan. Used by permission.