He Loves Us
Life isn’t always easy. This is probably one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned during the past two years. I’ve faced disappointment, discouragement, depression and failure. At one point, the weight of everything that I carried felt like it was too much to bear-- I felt hopeless. I couldn’t understand why things weren't working out in my life. Nothing seemed to make sense. God had promised me something, but life seemed to have other plans. For months, I honestly felt like I was in a pit of despair. I felt lost and confused; it was very difficult to find any joy.
During this challenging time, I would frequently walk through the botanical garden on my university’s campus. It was winter. Snow covered almost everything. The branches were dry and the leaves were all gone. The waterfall that I had always admired, stopped flowing. Everything seemed dead. It was as if in one day, all of the life that the garden once had was snatched away by the winter. I remember leaving my room almost everyday to go and walk in that garden. It was the only place where I felt like I could breathe. I sometimes walked across the cold, wet grass, just talking to God, asking Him to help me through this season where nothing seemed to make sense. Other days, I would put on my parka, about two extra sweaters and my sneakers, because I would lay on the bench in the garden. I would lay there for periods at a time, looking at the overcast sky. I welcomed the cold air that stung my cheeks and nose because I felt like I needed to feel something--something other than fear and anxiety.
Some days, I’d go out to lay on my bench and see other students doing the same thing. I would always give them a look-- that look of understanding. I knew what they felt. Walking to that garden during the winter became somewhat of a ritual. I would go whenever I felt overwhelmed with life. I walked there when I felt like the weight of all my responsibilities were suffocating me. I always felt like I needed to breathe in the cold air. I needed to see the dry landscape. Looking back, I realized that I spent a lot of time in the garden during winter because that’s how I felt. I felt cold and dry. I felt like God had forgotten about me and left me alone in my troubles.
When spring came around, I didn’t go back right away. I had moved to a different location, so the garden that I grew to love in the winter wasn’t just a few steps away anymore. I would always think about going back, but I became distracted with schoolwork, so I put it off. One day though, I felt the urge to walk back to the garden. I can’t remember what I was doing that day, but I knew that something in me wanted me to go back. I was still dealing with a lot of stress from school and battling uncertainty and fear, but I had made up in my mind at this point that the only thing I could do is trust God. I knew that He had brought me that far and He would see me through that season of my life.
I remember walking to the garden that particular day and standing completely still; I was in awe. There was no more snow, no more dry branches, no more wet grass. Everything was alive. The flowers had blossomed, the once dry branches were filled with fresh leaves. The once cold, wet grass was warm, bright green and glistening in the sun. I walked a bit further into the garden and what I saw there made me want to cry. There was an open space that was once cold and dreary. I often walked around this area with unshed tears in my eyes and turmoil in my heart. However, when I visited on this day, the sun seemed to shine right down on that space. The grass in that area glistened and there were butterflies and a warm breeze blowing.
In that moment, I can remember feeling an overwhelming sense of love. I felt it so strongly that I was afraid-- I honestly felt like I would burst. As I looked around the garden, and took in the flowers and the leaves and the sunshine, I wanted to drop on my knees and weep. I knew in that moment that God was reminding me of His love for me. I could feel it with everything in me. Everything that I saw seemed as though it was screaming, God loves you, Christna! He loves you! I walked around the garden that day, and saw that my favorite waterfall was flowing again. I saw that the bench where I often sat in discouragement and disappointment, was being overtaken with fresh vines.
My walk through the garden that day was not filled with despair or confusion, but peace-- a deep peace, knowing that my Heavenly Father saw me, and He cared about me. He cared about my worries and none of them were hidden from Him. I knew in that moment that He wanted me to come back to the place where I mourned, to show me that He was right there all along and that He would always be there. He reminded me that day that it is Him who turns our mourning into dancing. (Psalm 30:11) He also reminded me that weeping may last for a night, but joy truly will come in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
I’ve had experiences with God’s love before, but this time, I really felt it. I think on that day, I felt it in my very soul. I was so broken and discouraged and disappointed with everything in my life at that moment, but God used a garden to remind me of His love and His presence. I remembered this story tonight as I cried out to God, telling Him about all my worries and concerns. As I prayed, He reminded me that yes, there will be tough times in our lives. Sometimes, things will take longer to happen than we expected, maybe things won’t even work out the way that we hoped. The bottom line is that life can be very difficult at times, but in the midst of it all, we must remember that God still loves us. Although we face tough times, this doesn’t mean that God doesn’t care. His word reminds us that in this world, we WILL have trouble, but we can take heart, because He has OVERCOME the world! (John 16:33) He also reminds us that trials bring maturity in Him (James 1:2-4).
Whatever pain you are experiencing is not in vain. Oftentimes, that very pain will bring about proven character. God uses it for your good, and His glory. I hope that you are reminded tonight of God’s love for you. He loves you! His love for you is everlasting. It is overwhelming. It doesn’t matter what your reality looks like, the truth is that He loves you and that He promises to never leave you nor forsake you. ( Deuteronomy 31:6) Let that sink in tonight. Let that truth be louder than any lie from the enemy. Let it be louder than the anxiety you feel. Let it be louder than the uncertainty. Let it be louder than the disappointment. Your Heavenly Father loves you, and that will never change. Because of His love for you, He will always turn your mourning into dancing and your sorrows into joy.
Rest in His love tonight.