“I can’t do this,” a friend whispered as we sat in the waiting room of the hospital. Her three-year-old son had just been diagnosed with a type of kidney cancer, and he was in surgery at that very moment, to have one of his kidneys removed. Her head was bowed and the tears were pouring from her eyes. There in the hospital waiting room, I got down onto the ground, laid on my back, and looked up at her hazel-blue eyes. Her tears stained my cheeks. I remember asking her, “What do you hear God saying?” She replied, “I can’t hear Him right now.” We sat in silence for a long time after that.
A knock at my door. I answered, and a friend stood there as her steel-blue eyes welled with tears. “I’m fighting depression,” she whispered. I hugged her, and the warm salty tears smudged my face. We sat at the kitchen table and talked for a long time. I asked her, “What do you hear God saying?” She replied, “I can’t hear Him right now.”
“I feel so much anxiety, like there is something else I am supposed to be doing,” a friend said, as the two of us sat on a park bench. Tears began to fall from her ocean-blue eyes. As I comforted her, her tears touched the skin of my face. We sat and talked for a long time. I asked her, “What do you hear God saying?” She replied, “I can’t hear Him right now.”
I was getting ready for church one Sunday and looked at myself in the mirror. My reflection made my brown eyes well up with tears. I have dealt with body image issues my entire life, and this morning was no different. In the glass, I saw the “not good enough” Rachel. My husband walked by and saw my tears. He hugged me. My tears made a wet spot on his shirt. He whispered, “What does God say about you?” I replied, “I can’t hear Him right now.”
There are many times in our lives when the pain of life hits hard, and our ability to hear God’s voice becomes difficult. The world we live in can be so filled with fear, shame, regret, or even loss that it can feel as though God is far away from us.
But I think it is in the moments when we let vulnerability show, the tear-filled moments, that we are drawn closer to Him and are given a sense of hope. Of light. Of peace. Every time I ask or am asked, “What is God saying?”, I find that it only takes a few minutes before I hear Him.
Does this awareness of Him take away our circumstances? No, but it does help us to know that God has promised us something beyond what we are going through.
Isaiah 65:17-25 says,
“See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice
Forever in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.
I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more.
Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
the one who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere child;
the one who fails to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed.
They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
No longer will they build houses and others live in them,
or plant and others eat.
For as the days of a tree,
so will be the days of my people;
my chosen ones will long enjoy
the work of their hands.
They will not labor in vain,
nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,
they and their descendants with them.
Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.
Every time I feel the salt of tears against my cheeks—whether my own, or someone else’s, I am reminded of the words of Isaiah: “I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.”