Idolizing Your Heartache

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 3:13-14

I’ve been through a lot in my life—childhood abuse, abandonment, seeing loved ones struggle with addiction, miscarriages, a marriage that failed as the result of abuse, chronic illness, and losing my mother and sister to suicide.

“Wow. I’m sorry you had to go through all that,” people will tell me. And I tell them that I wouldn’t wish what I’ve been through on anyone else, but it’s what it took for God to bring me where I am.

Because of my experiences, I can minister to people facing a wide spectrum of struggles. I get what they’re going through because I’ve been through it. I know rejection. I know pain. I know grief. Above all, I know victory through God’s grace.

People who suffer trauma often get frozen in time—stuck in that defining moment of devastating loss—and they don’t know how to get past it. How can they live again? How can they laugh again? How can they love again? Most important, how can they trust God again?

The truth is, many of them cling to their pain because it’s a thing that’s uniquely theirs, something no one else can possibly comprehend. But by letting it go, they fear they’ll lose a critical part of themselves or their link to the familiar things or people they’ve lost. The grief is at once their nemesis and their anchor. It becomes an idol, the thing that consumes and drives them.

But sometimes God allows us to lose what we love most, whether it’s a lifestyle or a prized possession or a person, because that person or thing becomes too central to our identity.

We find ourselves standing before the God of the universe and asking, “How could You let me lose everything?” And He responds, “You haven’t lost everything. I am everything.”

And it is not until we make Him our center that our world stops spiraling out of control.

Forgetting what lies behind is an exercise in placing a greater value on our God-given future than our loss-driven past. Do we truly forget? No. But we allow God to use it for good (Romans 8:28; John 10:10) rather than allowing our enemy to use it for our detriment. And believe me when I say that the enemy of our souls would love nothing more than to drag us to our graves in defeat and despair. That’s the antithesis of God’s plan.

As Warren Wiersbe writes, “Nothing paralyzes our lives like the attitude that things can never change. We need to remind ourselves that God can change things. Outlook determines outcome. If we see only the problems, we will be defeated; but if we see the possibilities in the problems, we can have victory.”

What do you want most: heartache or healing? Or perhaps the real question is, what do you love most: your grief or the God who stands ready to bind up the wounds of your broken heart?

Change begins with the recognition of a problem and the desire to overcome it. God’s wonderworking power is available to you here and now (Ephesians 3:20), and His ability is without limits. It’s up to you to take the next step, straining forward to what lies ahead, and to be a living demonstration of His grace for someone else who is stuck in the rut of heartache.

You were meant for more. But do you want it?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.—2 Corinthians 1:3-4