Guest Post by Robin Luftig
The noise makers are put away and the confetti’s swept up. Your friends share wide-eyed, strategies for the new year. Their plans may include tackling their new year’s resolutions … choosing springtime vacation destinations … or just charting out a new vegetable garden. You watch as all this forward-looking excitement swirls around you, yet all you can do is hope for enough strength to get through the next few hours without crying. You can’t see anything good looking forward. Your goal: go to bed and somehow find the strength to get up the next day.
How can I embrace a new year when the last one left my world in shambles?
I understand what it feels like to have your legs cut out from under you. In God’s Best During Your Worst, I share how doctors found a fist-size tumor on my brain and told me I could soon die. They said, “if you have anything you want to do, anyplace you want to go to, or anyone you need to see, you have ten days to do it in.” I’m no stranger to the power that heartache and tragedy can hold over a person. Seeking God’s presence was one of the hardest parts of those ten days. Did He see me? Did He care?
Did God really love me after all?
As you start the new year, do you wonder if God loves you? I’ve heard all the questions. Here are two popular ones:
How could a good God let this happen?
Haven’t I been faithful, yet I am saddled with “this”?
I can tell you, dear friend, that God truly does love you.
John 3:16 tells us, … God so loved the world He gave His only son … He had to turn His back against His own Son when Jesus took on all the sins of the world.
I think our Heavenly Father knows pain and hurts when we feel it.
Time Test Challenge
Do you want a slice of practicality? Depression over life’s tragedy can keep you in bed—all day every day. If that’s where you are right now, I am not judging you. I understand you. But I challenge you to do a Time Test with God. It’s pretty easy, even when dealing with thoughts too dark to mention. It consists of a prayer and a bit of action on your part. The prayer goes something like this:
Father, Your Word tells me you will never leave me nor forsake me, but I feel very alone. (Name the issue of your fear. Are you angry? Disappointed? Suicidal? Be truly honest. God knows, but He needs you to tell Him exactly what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it.) Father, I’m going to set a timer for fifteen minutes and trust that You will keep me safe for that period of time. I surrender everything to You right now and trust You are in control. Amen.
When the buzzer sounds and the fifteen minutes are over, smile . . . you made it! Now, set the timer again. Do it for another fifteen minutes. Here’s your next prayer:
Father, I’ve set a timer for fifteen minutes again. You blessed me with life through the previous block of time, please help me with the next block. I can’t do this without You. I surrender my pain and situation to You. Thank You for staying close. Amen.
Do this again and again—do it all day. Change your fifteen minutes to thirty. You can do this! God will meet you. He will prove to be faithful. He loves brokenhearted people—and right now, dear one, that is you.
Tell God How You Feel
While you’re in your dark place, know that God’s waiting for you. I found it helpful to embrace my pain to the fullest. You may want to try that. Give in to all your feelings for a few minutes. Scream at God. Shake your fist. Communicate with words you may feel are not appropriate when talking to the creator of the universe.
Does that sound irreverent to you? Honestly, if you already feel those feelings and think those thoughts, know that God already sees how you feel and think. But by sharing how you feel—out loud—you’re honoring God with your honesty. And you’re being honest with yourself. God wants the intimacy with us that comes from that depth of honesty. When you’re finished with your rant, seek God’s love. He promises it will be there, waiting.
We read in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with your heart.”
Get Ready to Write This Down
If you highlight lines in books to help you remember . . . if you want to pull out a nugget to put on an index card and tape it to your bathroom mirror or clip it to your car’s sun visor . . . if you want a phrase to repeat before you go to bed, it’s this:
Until we embrace the fact that only God is in control of our lives and not us, our faith will always falter. When we start to trust and surrender to God’s plan—when we’re ready to do a swan dive into the lap of Jesus and embrace what waits for us—our hearts will begin to heal.
Jesus is in the business of healing broken and hurting people. You are in great company when you think of all the people—contemporaries as well as historical figures—who have faced tragedy. While that truth in itself does not bring comfort, learning how others fought their way out of darkness to find light again.
As this new year begins, stop and thank God for the breath in your lungs. He designed you to survive—and more. He designed you to thrive. You may be in one of the darkest times you’ve countered. I know how those times look.
And so does your heavenly father.
Healing can happen. But that depends on you … and your willingness to seek God’s hand.
Be grateful in everything–even the bumpy rides … is Robin Luftig’s (Central Pennsylvania) mantra while either writing or speaking to audiences on healing after tragedy. The central theme to all her messages—grace is available for everyone.
She’s an award-winning author and columnist. Her non-fiction book God’s Best During Your Worst was the 2020 Golden Scroll winner and 2021 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Director’s Choice winner in Nonfiction. Her first novel, Ladies of the Fire took the world by storm and was nominated for the 2021 Selah Award in the First Novel category. Her second book of the Ladies series, Ladies Uncover a Secret, was recently released and she’s currently working on the third story, Ladies on a Mission.
Luftig is a nationally sought speaker and shares stories of God’s mercy and grace at women’s retreats and conferences. She is a leader in Word Weavers International, a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA). She hails from the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area … but was born, raised, and lived most of her life in the Buckeye State of Ohio.
She is a wife, mother, and grandmother … plus hooked on chocolate and the Netflix series, “Sweet Magnolias.”