Contributed by Sarah Martyn
If I could poll everyone who has experienced loss, heartache, and struggle (especially during this pandemic), I think 100% of us would raise our hand.
When we decide to follow Jesus and try to be like Him, deep down we hope to have unwavering faith and possibly less trouble, but one thing the Lord promised is that we will have trouble, sometimes more than before (John 16:33).
Just like we need to eat every day, multiple times, we need the Lord (our Bread of Life) all the time. It’s our weakness, our fighting against temptations, and our loss and pain that draw us to God. Unfortunately, many people rely on themselves when things go well so it’s actually necessary we endure difficulty.
It’s not wrong to ask why when we face hard things, but if we don’t get the answer, what will our response be? In my experience, two reasons we go through anything unpleasant are:
- To reveal our character and help people when they face similar circumstances
- To reveal God’s character and how He gives us hope even when we should (by the world’s standards) reject God.
You see, God isn’t up there menacingly watching our life unravel like some movie He can enjoy from afar. He is the Creator of us, including our emotions, so I believe He feels everything we do, but the difference is He isn’t confused or at a loss of what He can do. It isn’t necessarily going to look like snatching us out of our situation right away, but He is looking at what He can do to our hearts in this. He desires an intimate, Father-like relationship with us, and when do we cry out to Him more sincerely than when we face our deepest sorrow?
In 2016, when I sang I Am Not Alone, I was just over two years into a marriage that ended at five. I was shocked by a confession to an affair and crushed by the divorce that was thrown at me. But in 2020, one of the hardest years most of us have known, I am remarried to a kind, Godly, committed man. It was a friendship from many years ago that I thought would never return because I was married, but even in the dark year of my marriage ending, God knew I’d continue living and would seek Him like no other time before.
Only just over a month ago, my 24 year old brother died from COVID-19, which has been painful in more ways than one. I lost a brother 21 years ago to SIDS, and now only my sisters and I are here to comfort my parents. Just when I began a new chapter in a new state during this pandemic, I have asked God why must I endure this? I am months into this healthy marriage, hoping to find joy and I lose my brother?!
Guess what, I have found joy. But to clarify, life hasn’t been easy. Aside from losing my brother, I’ve missed friends and family and being involved in church services, especially worship team and the East Valley Chorale. I am without a steady job yet, and the stress of changing my documents to my new name has been a constant ordeal with courts being closed.
How can I have joy, you ask?
Simply because joy isn’t dependent on my life going smoothly. I’ve had plenty of surprisingly good days, even days after losing my brother. I’ve laughed with my husband, enjoyed the company of our sweet dog, and connected with some people here in Albuquerque (mostly virtually).
I have to Thank God for everything I can, because even when things are challenging and stressful, there are blessings around us. Thankfulness breeds joy like nothing else can, and is healing for a wounded soul.
I am truly not alone because God is not limited by time, power, or answers. He doesn’t give us everything we ask, but aren’t we glad He hasn’t answered all our prayers the way we wanted?
Hope, peace, and joy are things we can have at every moment, even in the middle of grief or confusion. Feel what you feel, ask God the questions you need to, but trust that God knows you, loves you, and will provide for you what you need. He isn’t too far or too upset with you to listen and move on your behalf. Seek the Lord, and your desires will align with His. Then, watch what He does. I promise you’ll be amazed at what He does within you, even if nothing has changed yet.