Why is it that the painful seasons are where I internalize God’s lessons for me? We’re currently walking through a family crisis. As Hubs and I drove to the airport for him to spend time with family, I caught myself trying to plan for possible future outcomes of our present situation. If I’m being honest, it’s hard being present in painful seasons, and I wanted to edge my way around it.
As we drove, sometimes talking and sometimes quiet, my mind sifted through possible scenarios and options of what our future may (or may not) hold.
And then God whispered, “What am I trying to teach you about being present, Jeanne?”
The question halted my racing thoughts; I was convicted. It’s easier for my heart to plan for the future than to live in the present when pain is inevitable.
I’ve discovered that my mind skips the future because emotion hasn’t woven into that place yet. But if I focus on the present, pain interweaves through my heart and thoughts. I’m recognizing I don’t know how to deal with present pain very well.
Or maybe I’ve realized it, and that’s why my mind drifts to the future and fixing anticipated problems (because hey, we all know the future so well, right?).
God Doesn’t Call Us to Live in the Future
He beckons us to thrive in the present. In the . . .
. . . Victories and in the failures.
. . . Peace and in the turmoil.
. . . Joys and the sorrows.He beckons us to thrive in the present. In the victories and in the failures. In the peace and in the turmoil. In the joys and the sorrows. #dealingwithemotions #livinginthepresent Click To Tweet
Living in the present requires us to be vulnerable, to understand that we will experience many kinds of pain. Choosing to live in this place asks us to be open to hurting.
It’s often in the hurting places where we reach out our hands and hearts to God, and we discover the intimacy of His love. We learn the truth that, especially when pain is inevitable, He is always with us, never leaving or forsaking us.
Being Present in Painful Seasons
The only real way to thrive in the painful places is to choose to trust God as we walk through the strong, difficult emotions.
My first instinct is to shy away because big, unwieldy feelings lead to a sense of being out of control. Tears sting my eyes and roll down my cheeks. My heart literally hurts, and my throat heats and tightens.
The initial inclination is to shut down those emotions. They’re uncomfortable and painful.
But, God is with us, even in the uncomfortable, even when pain is unavoidable. He’s as close as our next breath. We only need to call out to Him. He invites us to live present in each moment.
Who Will We Trust?
There’s a delicate balance between choosing to walk through the pain holding God’s hand and pushing through until it overwhelms us.
One requires us to trust our Father. The other only encourages us to trust ourselves.
When God allows painful, out-of-control circumstances into our lives, the best place we can turn is to Him.
Sometimes we must choose to live in the moment—to feel the pain, to walk through the heartache—rather than skirting around it.
It’s when we don’t cringe away from the pain that we can discover the depth of God’s love for us.
Our Father never looks down on His creation and thinks, “What can I do to inflict pain on him/her?” He is not capricious. God knows that in this world we will face trouble. The good news is Jesus has overcome the world.
Will we trust the Overcomer with our heartache or will we trust ourselves? When He allows difficult circumstances into our lives, our Father always has a purpose, and it’s a good purpose.
God leaves the choice up to us. Trust Him or ourselves when the pain comes. Will we allow Him to hold our hand as we feel the pain or will we harden ourselves and ignore the hurting?
The benefit comes in trusting Him. Always.
As for me, I’m choosing to trust Him. In being present in painful seasons, especially this one, I trust He’ll bring me through the pain. I believe I’ll come to know Him better in the trusting.
What about you? What have you learned in painful circumstances? How has God walked beside you during hard seasons?
I’m linking up with #TellHisStory, #Instaencouragements and #RaRaLinkup
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Aw, Jeanne … God’s been teaching me a lot about letting tomorrow worry about itself this year. As I read your words today, it occurred to me that this includes tomorrow’s sorrows, pains and failures. I’ve done my fair share of dreading what something down the road was going to feel like. But that only takes up needed energy for being present in today’s emotions, whatever they may be. God is faithful to give us strength in the moment … I’m so grateful for that. Praying for you, my friend. (Also delighted that you are taking over the linkup!)
Lois, I think we must be kindred spirits. 🙂 And you’re right. Worrying and dreading the future only saps the strength we need for this moment. And yes, God does gives us strength for each moment. I’m beyond thankful for His faithfulness!
Amen – All we really are guaranteed is God and the present moment. I too love to plan for every outcome and I fight God when He whispers in my ear – Be Still. Yet, that is exactly what I need.
Praying for you. Congratulations on taking over the link-up. I look forward to joining you. Maree
Maree, yes, Be Still. This is the verse I pray every night. And when my spirit feels the worry of tomorrow or tries to avoid the trials of this day, I need to remember to just be still. Thanks for the prayers. And thanks for your support. 🙂
Just as God’s grace is sufficient for today and I believe He wants to walk with us through today (and not the future), I believe the same is true with the past. I can easily “live” or try to sort through/fix things through the lens of the past. I suppose I can pick and choose the feelings (and focus on the victories) and the past feels safe. My God wants me to lean on Him and learn from Him right now. Such a wise and helpful post, Jeanne. Thank you. Prayers for your family as you face this hard time!!
Jennifer, I love your words. God does want to walk with us through today, to lean on Him in the now, and to learn from Him in the present. Sometimes, I struggle to fix my thoughts here and not in the past or the future. Thanks so much for your prayers!
I’m the person who wants to turn the opposite dorection away from difficult seasons. What I have learned is how God gives us the strength we need when we turn to Him. There is something about living in the present that keeps me grounded. I love these words: “It’s often in the hurting places where we reach out our hands and hearts to God, and we discover the intimacy of His love.” Thank you for sharing your heart.
You’re so right, Mary. God does give us the strength we need when we turn to Him. I like what you said about how living in the present keeps you grounded. Yes and amen to that. Thanks for your visit, my friend!
Your words are right on, Jeanne, as I walk through my own difficult season right now. Really learning to trust God completely through this time. Hugs to you, my friend.
Becky, God does have ways of helping us draw closer to Him. As with you, He seems to use painful seasons to open my heart to trust Him more. I’m sorry you’re going through such a difficult season, my friend.
It is such a challenge to “stay present” when the present is filled with pain. We all seek to escape. And the fear is there that the present pain will overwhelm us. But you remind us, Jeanne, that God can see us through. He will see us through and we’ll be the better for it – knowing unfound strength and the depth and beauty of what His presence can do.
Pam, I think that was the most poignant lesson God taught me on that drive. He will see us through, even when we’re sitting in the pain. He sits with us, strengthens us, and reveals more of Himself to us. I so appreciate your stopping by!
Learning to live in the present has been one of the hardest struggles I’ve faced. I’m a planner and probably have control/perfectionist tendencies. But I know God calls me not to worry about tomorrow… only to think about today. I must live RIGHT NOW. And one of the best “silver linings” about painful seasons is the way they help me live in the right-now. Great post, Jeanne.
Jessica, choosing to live in the present has been one of my struggles too. I’m learning how to be a planner who holds those plans up toward Jesus with an open hand if that makes sense. Yes to living in the Right Now. I agree, God does use painful seasons to ingrain this lifestyle into my heart.
Sufficient for the day is its own troubles! I find myself preaching to me when I get all caught up in the tomorrow’s and the what if’s.
Amen to this, Susan! We all need to be reminded of this truth, don’t we?!
This is a powerful post…I’m saddened to read you are going through a tough time at the moment.
I have been through many crises in my life, most coming out of left field. The death of my daughter, son & late husband being some of those crises.
But the one thing I can always depend upon is God’s never ending strength, love & courage throughout & I lean into that. For only He knows the beginning from the end. And already has our future in His hands.
You’re most welcome to join me in a cuppa at Tea With Jennifer,
Jennifer, thank you so much for stopping by! I’m sorry you’ve walked through the loss of so many loved ones. You’re right, God’s strength is never-ending. His love is all-encompassing. And His courage is what gets us through the hardest days. Thanks for the reminder that He knows the beginning from the end, even when we can’t see beyond the moment we’re in.
Thank you for sharing your vulnerable heart here with us all! This sentence is one that God has asked me so many times over these past few years with chronic Illness: “Will we allow Him to hold our hand as we feel the pain or will we harden ourselves and ignore the hurting?” Often, He has uncovered places where I thought I was giving Him my hand, but on the other side, I was just hardening my heart and trying to push through. I can’t have it both ways, though. And I am so grateful that HE has been so gently continuing to soften my heart. I’m lifting prayers for you and your family today.
Bettie, God’s done the same thing for me. When I think I finally have a handle on some difficult aspect of my life, God shows me there’s another layer yet to be dealt with. God’s continued to soften my heart as well. I’m thankful for His loving, tender ways with His children. Thank you so much for your prayers. They are greatly appreciated!
Jeanne, you’ve laid out the painful struggle of difficult times so well. We do fixate on the future, either our worries about it or our imagined positive outcomes in order to avoid the pain of the present situation.
You said that “God Doesn’t Call Us to Live in the Future He beckons us to thrive in the present.”
This wise statement details the challenge, a moment by moment battle to be present, to lean on the Lord, to talk to him about the difficulty, to trust him and his Word. This year has been one of the worst years for us, perhaps for you, too, and for so many others. The Lord bless you and keep you, sister, as you face this challenge.
Melinda, thanks for your kind words. It is challenging to thrive in the present, especially when we feel beaten down by it. But, as you shared in your recent post, it’s when we see those leaning places and we lean into Jesus that we can grow. Isn’t it kind of amazing that we can talk with Him, baring our hearts and know that He hears and will answer?
I’m sorry it’s been such a difficult year for you and your family. I think everyone’s had some difficulty (can I hear “Well THAT’S an understatement!”) but some have faced far more than COVID’s heartache. Thank you so much for stopping by!
Jeanne, you have posed a most thought provoking question >> “Will we allow Him to hold our hand as we feel the pain or will we harden ourselves and ignore the hurting?” Praying I will always place my hand in His and trust Him. Praying the Lord guides and works through this family situation. Blessings!
Joanne, the answer should be obvious, right? BUT, it can be scary to think about opening ourselves up to really feel the pain. I’m so thankful that we never have to do that alone, that He’s holding His hand out to us, inviting us to place our wee palms in His big one. Thanks for those prayers. They are appreciated!
This line jumped out at me: “It’s when we don’t cringe away from the pain that we can discover the depth of God’s love for us.” I hve found that the place in which I experience the true depth of God’s love for me is when I allow myself to sit and face the pain in the now. Like you, I often want to take the path of least resistance, but the real growth happens when we grab God’s hand and walk through the pain together.
Blessings and prayers,
Bev, it’s hard to just sit and face the pain, isn’t it? But God . . .He’s faithful to sit with us, to help us to grow, and to help us navigate the path of pain. I’m so thankful He doesn’t expect us to know how to do this on our own!
I pray God leads your husband as he spends time with his family during this tough situation, Jeanne. To transform the pain, we do need to ‘sit’ with it with God at that centre of our lives all the time. I think He gives us tools like being able to make plans for the future so we don’t get stuck in the pain, yet we are not to bury it either. We’re called to trust, and praise during all our seasons, aren’t we? I know I just was given that message again, too, through Ecclesiastes and will be writing on it this week! I think this is how God walks me through hard seasons. He brings even blogging friends to write on exactly what He is wanting to teach me and, in turn, serve others.
Lynn, I love your insights here. Yes, the pain can drive us to God, but we have to be careful not to become consumed by it. And, we must guard against focusing all on future plans, right? Each has a place in the weaving God is doing in our relationships with Him. Yes, praising and trusting Him are important keys to navigating painful seasons. I look forward to reading your post!
Awesome words and thoughts. You’ve given me a lot to think about today. In these times I think it is especially important to remember to be in the present and with God. Everything seems to be flying off the handle everywhere we turn. It isn’t though. Not really. God is a rock and he has a plan.
I agree! Being present with God can make all the difference in how we handle painful situations. Thank goodness God is our Rock, and that He has a plan! I find great comfort in these truths.
I believe that the painful moments are when the Lord draws us closer to Him. We have a choice. We can move toward Him or away. I’m not much of a future thinker (I tend to live in the past) but my husband is. It often drives me crazy because he skips over the pain and goes straight on to something else. But when we look back, we can see how God used certain terrible situations for His glory and our benefit. Blessings to you!
Adrienne, you’re right. We do have a choice when we face painful moments. It’s interesting how we humans tend to grapple and focus on the past or skip over the present to the future. The present does fit in there somewhere, right? And yes, when we look back on how God worked in painful situations, we can be breathless when we see His fingerprints on those hard situations. He is pretty amazing how He does that. Thanks so much for visiting!
Vulnerable is not an option. This fight is to the death.
Cancer wants a piece of me,
yeah, OK, whatever,
but the world is gonna see
we’re going down together.
Don’t know how to let it go,
and I can’t remember
what teachers said that I should know,
how to spell ‘surenddar’.
So what the hell, nothing to lose,
and yean, there’s nowt to gain,
but I embrace, and gladly choose
to embrace the pain
that drives me down into the dirt,
but, dude, I’m gonna bring the hurt.
Jeanne, have you done any work with the Enneagram? I ask because this post hits so close to home for me with all the struggle to stay present to NOW and tje resistance to dealing with messy (and time consuming) emotions. You’re doing such a good job owning your struggle.
I have done some work with the Enneagram, Michele. It can be tough to own our emotions and to stay present in the NOW, can’t it? God is helping me learn how to do this better. Thanks for your kind words. 🙂
Andrew, your determination to live this out well inspires me. Your poem made me smile.
And seriously, you’re in my prayers, my friend.