My dad, brothers, and I used to do a lot of carpentry work. Though none of us were ever seriously injured on a job, we certainly met our quota of smashed thumbs, splinters, and cuts. Whenever one of us boys would get hurt, Dad would look at our wound and say, “Yep, that’s gonna’ hurt ‘til it feels better.” And back to work we would go.
Through the years, as the hurts I encountered became more severe, Dad’s words would come back to me with deeper meaning. What they may have lacked in mercy was overridden by their plain wisdom; and I’ve become convinced that healing from loss depends largely on our accepting that deep pain of the soul will not go away quickly. Psalm 42:5 says it this way:
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
To me this means that between my last pain-free praise and my next is a season of waiting and hoping. I’m gonna’ hurt ‘til I feel better.
I’ve talked to a lot of desperate people who’ve been severely wounded by disappointment and grief. One man saw his net worth fall from multiple millions to six-figure debt through an odd series of events that he couldn’t stop. Another man’s fiancée called off their marriage, having given no indication that she was thinking of backing out. A close friend’s brother committed suicide. Another friend’s husband died in a tractor accident. And the list goes on. I talked to each one soon after their calamity, and they all shared something in common: they wanted me to “give it to them straight.” Desperate people have little tolerance for platitudes and soft-selling.
So, I’ll say here what I said to each of them: there are no shortcuts. Yes, there is a way through the pain, but it doesn’t come easily and it rarely comes quickly. You’re going to hurt for a while.
As one who has traveled the grief road, I’ll be bold enough to urge you not to rush it. I know you want the pain to go away. I know you want “normal” back. But will you believe me when I say that you are in one of the richest environments of God-nearness that you will ever experience this side of eternity? So lean into your pain and absorb the nutrients that sorrow brings to your soul. This is how we hurt forward.
© 2021 by Tim Grissom. All rights reserved.