Have you ever cried so hard that you cannot breathe? It’s the kind of crying that you won’t know unless you’ve done it or seen it in person cause they don’t put it on tv or in the movies. They can’t. No actor or actress could cry like this for a part.
During an indescribably rough time a few years ago, I was mad at God! I couldn’t believe he would let something so completely and utterly horrible happen.
All gifts come from God (James 1:17) so they are his to give and take away. We are called to rejoice in our suffering (Romans 5:3) because it produces endurance. We then know that suffering can be a gift. To top it off, God promises us the gift of trials:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Still, when we are in the throws of suffering and we are doing the ugly cry, gasping for air because we stopped being able to breathe through our nose and might possibly drown in tears, the knowledge that suffering is a gift is little consolation.
Sometimes I think of Jonah, whose story seriously cracks me up sometimes (mainly cause some translations say Jonah was spit out by a fish and some say he was “vomited” out). At the end of the book of Jonah, he’s out in the desert and God gives him some shade and then takes it away, which ticks Jonah off. Then God explains that Jonah has no right to be mad because, well, that shade wasn’t his right (apparently it was limited time only shade).
Jonahs story helps when the terrible asthma-attack-like crying hits but what comforts me more is this verse from Isaiah:
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
If you’ve experienced the waterfall sobs then you know physical strength is all but drained and your useless limbs succumb to the power of the tear-pocalypse. The verse from Isaiah (if taken literally) envisions Gods huge hands cradling us as we wail into a pillow (he’s also holding the pillow in his hands). As you can see, being cradled in his hands is a far cry (actual cry, pun intended) from being upset at God for “allowing” suffering. God takes on suffering with us like a team.
If all else fails, read Psalm 6 to be reminded that this ugly body shaking sobbing thing we do is not new. People were doing it way back in the day:
“I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.” Psalms 6:6