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  • Writer's pictureMarnie Hammar

From Hearing to Healing: How God Spoke Into My Pain

It wasn’t necessarily a deception, but it felt like it. We’d been led to believe something that would change our family forever — something that we ached for — by a trusted pastor, mentor, and family friend. Then, as God’s plans for us unfolded, what we thought was a promise didn’t happen. The longings we’d carried, fulfilled in what we’d been led to believe, now crumbled. Confusion warred within my soul.

How could God allow this to happen? I was holding the pieces of brokenness: This isn’t what we’d been told. This isn’t what we’d prayed for. None of it made sense. I wish I could tell you more, but I hope it’s enough for you to know that the pieces we were left holding felt unbearably heavy, and I didn’t know how to fit them together, the dreams and the real. Where did each live now?

As the months crept along, all the ordinary life things just kept moving. With a baby very much on the way, and an almost six-year-old and almost three-year-old, I had to keep going. I recall silently crying in my car on the way to everywhere. If you knew me then, you probably didn't even know. I kept the pain close, Jesus closer.

When our youngest was three months old, I was still grieving. This was not postpartum depression. As I held my new son with joy, my heart was aching from those events that predated his arrival.

One late afternoon, with the rest of my family gone, I laid him down for a nap and snuck out to my back deck to spend time talking with God about it all. Again. I was pleading with Him, my thoughts and questions still a litany of hurting “why’s.”

I sat in my favorite chair and absently flipped open my Bible, lowering my head to pray. Through my tears, I glanced at the page it happened to fall to. My eyes landed on, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight,” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV). This “coincidental” truth-telling from these pages cut straight through my “why’s.” I knew that God was ready to say more.

That’s when the baby monitor lit up angry red.

I felt robbed, my time with Him cut short. It seemed like God was going to reach into that confusion, and now my sweet babe was awake. I opened the door, walked through the rooms to the stairs, and started up the staircase to get my littlest man. As my feet climbed one, then two, then three steps, my thoughts were interrupted.

I heard words in my mind that I didn’t think.

In the kindest, most gentle Voice, came a four-word answer to my wrestling: “It’s not about you.

How I wish I could sit next to you and say these words the way I heard them, so you could hear the tone. The softness. He emphasized “about,” but barely. This wasn’t a correction or a condemnation. Those four words soothed. The raw pain from the crushing confusion quieted. His whisper opened my heart to the possibility that good could come even from this.

Before I reached the top of the stairs, a new understanding settled into my heart. Though I would never presume to understand all of His plans, He was kind enough to give me a glimpse of why this needed to happen the way it did. I sensed a tiny part of His greater purpose in how our heartache had unfolded, and instead of wondering why, I felt comfort and peace.

The hurt and brokenness I felt at the bottom of the stairs met the beginnings of a deep, soul-touching healing before I'd even finished climbing those fourteen short steps. In the span of about twelve feet, I'd changed.

I stepped onto the top landing knowing that my heart would rebound.

His words to me that day, first from the pages of my Bible, and then on the stairs, connected. His quiet whisper amplified those verses, tying together the truth of His words. Though I could fill chapters with the lessons and learnings that deepened my faith that day, three foundational truths rise to the top — three truths I lean on still:

1 | When I believe that His plan is better than mine, I can let my plan go.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…”

I still don’t understand the why’s of that confusing season, but I did come to a place of trusting that He needed it to happen the way it did. Sometimes those difficult, painful “no’s” make way for a significant yes elsewhere in His plans. Embedded in those words was an invitation to trust Him. He knew my desires, but His plans included other hearts in His kingdom — not just my own. I could only find freedom by laying down my plans.

2 | When I stop asking why, He can start to heal me.

“…in all your ways submit to Him…”

That day on my deck, I started in with my why-ing. My questioning was rooted in a belief that, since I’d done all these things for God, He would do things for me, right? But that’s not how it works.

When He showed me those familiar verses in Proverbs, I saw them with fresh eyes. He was saying that He needed to do other things here, in the middle of my pain. He was challenging me to shift from asking “Why?” to an understanding that He was at work. When I know that deep in my bones, He can work deeper in my heart.

3 | When I make space to listen, His words replace my thoughts.

“…and He will make your paths straight.”

That day, I heard God’s healing words above my own thoughts. He covered my thinking with His truth. Inviting Jesus in allowed Him to open the rooms of my mind, to clear out what had settled there, and reclaim that space for His words.

Hebrews 12:13 reads, “…and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.” When God spoke to me that day, He was straightening my path, replacing my thoughts, healing my lame.

While I still don’t understand all that happened, I do know that God can weave His deepest, most meaningful victories into our most painful, hardest hards. He may or may not answer every why. He may or may not solve every problem in the way I’d like. But when I trust, when I lay down my why’s, and when I seek Him, His words speak into my steps and straighten my paths.

“He loves those who love Him, and those who seek Him diligently will find Him,” (Proverbs 8:17).

For more about hearing God's voice, read Discerning His Voice: A Journey of Discovering that He Speaks.

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1 Comment

Sep 09, 2020

Your words are beautiful. I could feel your pain, and I can identify with your feelings of disappointment, confusion, and loss. I can also relate to how transformational it is to apply the truth that "It's not about you." Thanks for sharing such a clear path out of the pain.

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