By Lydia Will

Psalm 34:18

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

As a parent, you spend a great deal of time thinking about keeping your child safe. It begins with strapping unbelievably small bodies into car seats for the trip home from the hospital. Then on through childhood – child safety locks. Bike helmets. Internet filters. Protecting a child from pain is the work of parenthood in those early years. Keeping them safe is the goal of every parent.

In the last few days, I’ve watched my boy change.

Just barely a teenager, he’s a bit less quick to smile now. His eyes have a faraway look. He’s quieter. He’s making a point to tell me he loves me. To hug me tight before leaving the house. He’s spending more time with friends and I’m just glad he’s not isolated up in his room. 

In the last week, my boy changed and he will never be the same again. 

It’s the one thing a parent can’t protect against. A broken heart. Eventually, in some way, it happens to us all. There is nothing a parent can do but point their child toward the truth, and hand them over securely into the hands of God. Acknowledging that this is above my pay grade, beyond my skill set – I face my own humanity, knowing that Jesus has the answer to this one.

God never downplays the pain of human life in a fallen world. He acknowledges it time and again, and so should we. There is nothing natural nor good about a mother burying her child, teenage kids shaken to their very core at the loss of a friend. This is not how it was meant to be. 

This is important. 

It is important for us all to understand that to suffer, to lament, to be awash with sadness – that is not sin. God’s own heart breaks for His children, and it is not unfaithful to grieve. We can know a loved one is in Heaven with Jesus and still feel our hearts shatter with grief at the thought of a life without them near. 

Suffering rends us, opens those broken spaces deep inside us, fissures created by our own sin and the brokenness of the world. There are two choices: to seal it up, drawing back into our tortured solitude – or to push through and beyond, inviting the Light to come, to cleanse, to warm us. One promises to heal, to comfort. The other, only to conceal in festering darkness.

God doesn’t need us to suffer to save us. Jesus did that on the cross, paying for all of our human failings in this ultimate act of love. But suffering persists because of sin. Because of brokenness. Yes, even for those who are new creations in Him, life here on earth is marred with suffering. 

A Pollyanna faith of sunshine and butterflies will only get you through the superficial scuffles of life. Deep, howling, agonizing pain requires something more. Something deeper. Something eternal. In all His great goodness, He offers that to us. Whispering His promise of victory to us through our tears, bolstering our hearts with His strength.

He shows us His way through – through the promise that it will not be for naught. That His inconceivable peace is ours for the taking. That He will redeem every broken heart for good. When we lean in, lean on those promises, He showers over us his grace, comfort, hope. Tenderly drawing us near, He has all the power to use every broken dream, every fractured heart for something beautiful.

When we look, we can see it. Because of Jesus, even the shortest life impacts the world. There’s comfort in that. Hope. Moving through our days, sitting with the suffering of ourselves and one another, grace is passed on. I see it in the way my son grieves. I see it in how he huddles in with his friends. One flicker of light catching, spreading from heart to heart.

There will still be pain. Suffering and sadness. Unfathomable grief.

And a Savior at the ready to rush right in to bear the weight with us.

It’s suffering. Redeemed.