I have survived more than a few painful heartbreaks. Most of them were messy. The more recent ones were quite subdued and highly private. But it took this one last painful experience to make me realise – there is beauty in suffering. I began to embrace the pain I face, because it shapes my character much more definitively than my joys ever did, or ever will.
More than a few years ago, a friend of mine was going through a painful breakup. She confided that during her times of deepest sorrow, she clung to Jesus for dear life. I never quite understood what she meant. I could not relate to the desperation she felt – and her chosen response. Perhaps I had never been shook to the core as she had been. Or perhaps – to my regret – I was not as cognisant of my need for Jesus as she was.
It took many long years and more than a few heartaches for me to come to that same point of desperation. And while it may sound strange and counterintuitive, I would never trade that period of emotional loss for any earthly gain. Because it was in those quite moments of deep sadness that I began to long for Jesus much, much more. It was in those nights of shedding countless tears that I experienced an intimacy with my Saviour that I never had. My sorrow has carved a hole so deep in my heart that only Jesus can fill it – and fill it, He did. To overflowing.
In my pain, I began to appreciate the deep, fathomless love of God. And why he shaped humanity and history the way he did. God made man and woman, knowing they would eventually turn away and hurt him. But He loved them anyway. He allowed the serpent to enter the garden to deceive Adam and Eve, not because He thought they could handle temptation. God let the Devil have his way the first time around, because God had already seen another more painful, more meaningful way to draw people to Him. God knew the pain of loss. But beyond that, He knew the wonderful, boundless joy of reconciliation. Of redemption through sacrifice. Of losing His Son, to regain humanity.
I began to appreciate the beauty of Jesus’ brutal death. How He was willing to die for mankind. To experience physical pain, and spiritual death. To be emotionally battered and bruised, left alone in his misery. To feel lonely and forsaken, abandoned by the ones He loves. He foresaw the torment, but He chose to go through the pain. Because in the ugliness of the cross, Jesus saw the beauty of restoration.
Jesus chose the nails. And I would choose the pain. Because it brings me ever closer to my Jesus, who loves me more than life.