It seems the older I have gotten, the more reflective I’ve become. Specifically, in the past several months, I’ve found that living life in retrospect has produced heartaches and hallelujahs. Regardless, it has been clear, and at times painfully, that God has been in the midst of both.
In the story that God is writing, there are pages I would like to rip out, and chapters I would rather skip. Then there are those pages and chapters that I would love to stay in, like a great song you set on “repeat.” But God, who is sovereign in His grace and wisdom, is writing this story with purpose that ultimately is for His glory and my good; a story that is going somewhere. Every page that has been turned, and every chapter they will comprise in the future, is all part of His epic work. It certainly doesn’t feel like an epic story that is for His glory and my good at times, but I trust God’s character more than I do my feelings.
Although I’ve discovered that feelings are a good barometer for letting me know something is going on within, and certainly need to be examined, they are not the most trustworthy when it comes to navigating life. For me personally, I have chosen not to allow my feelings to inform my faith, but rather let my faith in God be the guardrails for my feelings. Doing so has kept me from going over the cliff and plunging to unhealthy depths on many occasions.
One of the most awe-inspiring and majestic sights I’ve seen in this world is Victoria Falls in Livingstone, Zambia. The roar of the falls, the massive cloud like mist that rises creating a gentle downpour of rain, and the sheer beauty and grandeur of it is inexplicable.
But a waterfall of that scale isn’t the only one that creates wonder. I’ve seen waterfalls in my own beautiful state of Arkansas, and a few in Colorado. But there is one I plan on visiting one day, the Lower Falls in Yellowstone National Park. It is a 308-foot tall waterfall, and the most famous in Yellowstone.
If the beauty of a waterfall isn’t enough, most often you’ll discover that at the base of it is a rainbow. Hallelujahs are like brilliant colors of a rainbow that stand out against the backdrop of crashing water on large rocks at the base of a waterfall, or in contrast to a dark sky after a hard rain. The promise has always been there, but its visible brilliance is magnified greatest in the tumult and torrential.
Turn through the pages of Scripture and you’ll see stories of heartache that are the prologue to unforeseen hallelujahs. If you were to ask Joseph about that heartache of betrayal by his brothers; the heartache of being separated from his mother and father; the heartache of being sold into slavery; the heartache of being falsely accused and unjustly thrown into prison; and the heartache of being forgotten by those he had helped, he would be hard-pressed to find the hope of a hallelujah. Nonetheless, God was setting up something that Joseph would’ve never dreamt in a thousand lifetimes. He was thrown into a pit, only to rule second in command over all of Egypt. He was sold into slavery and thrown into prison, so that God’s people might be rescued from bondage and saved from extinction. God always plants hallelujahs in the painful soil of heartaches.
It was true for Joseph, and it is no less true for you and me. Maybe you’re going through a moment of heartache right now, or just coming through a season of heartache, and wondering how you’re ever going to make it. I can assure you, there is hope, and there is a hallelujah that comes just as certain as Spring. It may seem dormant right now, but it will soon blossom into full bloom, and its fragrance and beauty will cause a new song to rise up in you.
But hallelujahs are not manufactured. They are not something that can be produced by your best self-effort, resilience, or self-reliance. Hallelujahs are not raised up by broken people, but by a merciful, gracious, and perfect God for broken people.
I’ve found that God’s nearness hasn’t been minimized in moments of heartache, but magnified. In the moment I may not have seen it, but when I live life in retrospect it often becomes very clear. Sometimes the best way to hold on to hope for today is to glance back and see how God has always been at work. If you’re finding it difficult to see the hallelujahs, ask God to show you and He will. More than likely, there is a hallelujah about to bloom.
And if you’re having a hard time seeing the hallelujahs, and if it doesn’t seem like God has been writing your story, perhaps it’s time to turn the page, surrender the pen, and allow the Author of Life to turn the heartache of your emptiness, and the aching of your soul into a hallelujah. He’s good at doing just that.