Tuesday, July 14, 2015

When All You Can Do Is Cry

“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you. . .” 

Isaiah 66:13 (NIV)

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8:26 (NIV)
Is there anything sweeter than the cry of a newborn? I’m far enough removed from that time in my life that I actually thrill at the sound of a infant’s tender cry.

But when you are in the throes of new parenthood, well, it’s downright hard.

When baby is crying and parents are sleep-deprived, when days and nights are mixed up and life is a blur of feedings and diaper changes, well. . . things can seem bleak indeed.

Throw into the mix a child with special needs, and the challenge is almost insurmountable.

I went through it all big-time with both my first baby and with the twins. 

But by the time the fourth child came along, I was more relaxed and experienced. I had a better handle on how to soothe him and how to muddle through those early days. As a result, he cried a lot less than the others had.

Which made it all the more difficult when I took him to the pediatrician for his one-year vaccinations. 

I remember it clearly. The moment the needle pierced his fragile skin, he looked at me with sheer horror in his eyes and began to scream. 

My heart lurched in my chest. I had been through this with the others, and yet this time it felt different. Here was this child of mine who trusted me to take care of him, to protect him, this baby who rarely cried. And he was staring me down with an accusing look in his eyes as if to say, “How could you do this to me?!?”

Of course, I knew it was for his own good. The vaccinations would protect him in the long run. I also knew that within a few minutes he would forget it had ever happened.

But in that moment, though he had no words to communicate with me, I knew he felt excruciating pain. Pain that made him feel betrayed by his own mother. I had allowed pain to touch him. In fact, I’d even willed it to happen for the greater good.

Isn’t this how God is with us?

I’ve been through some excruciating pain in my life. 

You have, too. 

There have been times when I thought my heart might break in two, when it was all I could do just to find the strength to make it through the next hour, let alone the next day.

  • I’ve experienced crippling emotional and spiritual pain.
  • I’ve cried the tortured prayer of “Why?” and received no answer.
  • I’ve prayed for my child’s healing, and then doubted God’s goodness.
  • I’ve felt abandoned, even betrayed by God, wondering how on earth He could let this happen.

Some of my favorite lines of poetry come from In Memoriam by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. The words describe so clearly how I have felt during painful seasons of my life.

Oh yet we trust that somehow good
Will be the final goal of ill,
To pangs of nature, sins of will,
Defects of doubt, and taints of blood;

That nothing walks with aimless feet;
That not one life shall be destroy'd,
Or cast as rubbish to the void,
When God hath made the pile complete;

That not a worm is cloven in vain;
That not a moth with vain desire
Is shrivell'd in a fruitless fire,
Or but subserves another's gain.

Behold, we know not anything;
I can but trust that good shall fall
At last—far off—at last, to all,
And every winter change to spring.

So runs my dream: but what am I?
An infant crying in the night:
An infant crying for the light:
And with no language but a cry.

When all you can do is cry 

During the most painful moments, it was -- as the poem says -- impossible to verbalize the pain I felt. Those were times when my prayers were simply tears.

I knew Romans 8:28 by heart, but it sure didn't feel like God was working all things together for good. The pain was too intense and all-consuming.

There was nothing to do but cry. Just like an infant cries in his distress. It's the only language he knows.

And yet as I held my crying baby through his pain that day in the doctor's office, I realized something profound.

God had never left me during my times of anguish. He had been holding me the entire time. When my pain left me speechless, His Holy Spirit was interceding on my behalf, communicating to the Father with groans too deep for words.

Not for one moment did He stop caring for me.

He loves me as tenderly and devotedly as a mother loves her infant -- and infinitely more so!

He has allowed pain into my life, yes.

But He also knows the ultimate outcome. Nothing can come to me that He will not hold me through. His everlasting arms never tire. He is always prepared to comfort and soothe my pain.


Because He knows what pain is like. Our suffering Savior has borne both our sin and our sorrows. And He will never let us go.


Lord God, life is so hard at times. There is so much pain and heartache in this world, and it is no respecter of persons. Suffering is something we each have to endure. It can seem at times that we truly walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Help us to remember that you are our Good Shepherd, that you are always with us. Remind us that you are our refuge, our source of comfort and that you are always interceding on our behalf. Thank you most of all for your Son, who was well acquainted with sorrow and pain. Help us to trust you even in our darkest moments.

1 comment:

  1. It must be really doubly painful for God because He loves us so much and He knows how much pain we feel. But He knows we need those pain that He could only comfort us. Aw, Sheri. This post really got me reflecting.