Glorious Pain

6:42 AMHeather

In August 2009, our little family got to go to family camp at the Moose Lake Gospel Camp (MLGC) in Alberta, Canada with my Canadian family. We love to talk about that amazing trip we were able to enjoy. And, we look forward to a repeat visit at some point. Many wonderful memories were made that week, including one that was full of tears rather than laughter.

You see, I just broke down the first night at the worship service. I cried and cried and cried, unable to really identify the exact reason. Sweet Auntie Peggy held me tightly and cried right along with me. She led me out to her cabin where we continued our cry fest. I couldn't even form words or thoughts--but tears, yes. I shed lots of tears. And, bless her sweet heart, she cried right along with me. When we could finally talk, she asked why we were crying, which made me laugh. I threw out various issues that were weighing heavy on me, yet none of them seemed to summarize or explain the flow of emotion. But, I did explain to Peggy that I felt safe there. I felt like I could let it all out. And, she said I was going through the meat grinder. She explained that she and my cousins talk about when God is tenderizing your heart, they call that going through the meat grinder.

I love that phrase. Once upon a time, a long time ago, my heart felt callous and hard from loss, grief, anger, and bitterness. When others were hurting, I compared their pain to my own, and found it difficult to conjure up much mercy or compassion. MY situation was much harder. On the scale of hard times, I felt sure I'd been dealt the worst hand of cards. The softening and tenderizing took years. But, being able to cry with others and for others is a sure sign of the miracle of healing that God has done in me.

This meat grinder thing is brutal. But, I think it's glorious pain. It's God breaking my heart for what breaks his. I love the words of the song Hosanna by Hillsong:

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart from what breaks yours
Everything I am for your kingdoms cause
As I go from nothing to
Eternity

These phrases so beautifully communicate what I cannot articulate. God continues to heal my heart from the past, while also breaking it for future purposes. He has a lot more to do in me to open my eyes and help me to love like He's loved me. I'm not nearly broken enough for what breaks His heart. And, oh, how I want to give everything I am for His kingdom's cause. Help my unbelief! (Mark 9:24). I feel as though I'm still in process. And, it's a messy process--meat grinding and tears. It's not pretty at all. But, I think it's beautiful to God. I often feel that I cannot really explain my melancholy to others--some days, my heart feels heavy and my stomach is churning. And, I feel a little crazy. But, I remember how my aunt described this movement of God, and I'm learning to embrace it.

INTENTIONAL challenge: Have you ever felt the load of someone's pain? Have you cried at a news story or been overwhelmed by others' suffering? Can you relate to the idea of the meat grinder because God is breaking your heart for what breaks His? Consider this a huge warning--if you ask God to break your heart for what breaks His, that's a prayer He is sure to answer. So grab a box of kleenex, be willing to cry with someone for reasons you don't know, and embrace the glorious growing pains of being tenderized for His purposes.

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