Click on the image to enlarge it
$285 AUD ($285 USD), Watercolor Pencil, Colored Pencil; Framed in matte gold aluminium frame with Gallery grade, UV filtering, Glare Reduction Perspex; Image size: 33 cm x 44 cm (13″ x 17.5″); Framed size: 43.5 cm x 50 cm (17.5″ x 22″); Prints and Cards Available
“I will exalt you, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit.
Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
When I felt secure, I said, ‘I will never be shaken.’ O LORD, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.
To you, O LORD, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: ‘What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help.
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.” (Psalm 30)
When we are going through very difficult trials, sometimes we can be tempted to think that things will never get better. Sometimes we feel like we will be sad forever, or that our lives have been irreparably damaged and sorrow will hang over us like a cloud for as long as we live.
But these are just feelings, not reality….and the beliefs that produce these feelings certainly don’t take into account the reality of God as recorded in the Scriptures.
When we read through the Bible, there are so many Scriptures that give us hope in the midst of our trials, Scriptures which reassure us that God will transform our sorrow into joy if we allow him to. The following are just a few:
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10-11)
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:1-5)
“The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:17-18)
“We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us…” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10)
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?…
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
‘For your sake we face death all day along; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:28-32,35-39)
As Christians, our inward joy is not dependent upon our outward circumstances. While pleasant circumstances certainly make us happy, we can have the joy and contentment of the Lord at all times, as the Apostle Paul attests to:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:4,11-13)
The secret of Paul’s contentment, born out of the joy of intimacy with God and a firm trust in his sovereignty, shone brightly the night that he and Silas were apprehended, severely beaten and imprisoned (not to mention they were innocent–talk about severe trials!) (Read Acts 16:16-40 for the whole story).
“The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose.” (Acts 16:22-26)
Paul and Silas worshiped God instead of sinking into despondency and self-pity, even in the midst of their severely difficult, painful trial. Iron chains bound their hands, but the shackles could not bind their spirits to sorrow. The joy of the Lord was their strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Worship, the expression of their intimacy with God, the joy of their lives, is what broke the chains of their dismal circumstances. Sorrow can never bind one who worships.
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name.” (Hebrews 13:15)
Have you allowed God to use your suffering to perfect you as a worshiper? (See “Through Fire and Water Praise Comes Forth: Praise and Worship Series” and “Job: The Worshiper: Believer’s Road Series 2).
Unfortunately, we cannot circumvent the Scriptures that tell us suffering is what God uses to produce in us perseverance, character and Christian maturity (James 1:2-4, Romans 5:3-5). God, in his sovereignty sends us through trials to perfect our character and to make us more Christlike. In his wisdom, he crafts circumstances to refine us and test us, for our own good and for his glory.
However, God is also compassionate, and he hears our cries for mercy when we are suffering, as David, the author of Psalm 30, said, “O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit” (Psalm 30:2-3).
Even as God is refining our character through suffering, thanks be to God that his heart’s desire is to fully heal us and to make us whole again. We can take great comfort in his words in Revelation 21:3-4, which will come true at the end of the age:
“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Even now, God hears our cries and has mercy upon us in our suffering. Even today, God comforts us with his love and compassion (Zephaniah 3:17, 2 Corinthians 1:3-5). He is the God of restoration and redemption; the God who resurrects and breathes new life into us. He is the God who saves us and anoints us with the oil of joy. Therefore, let us never give up our hope in God. He constantly gives us reason to rejoice. He is the reason why we hope; he is the reason why we go on.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.” (Isaiah 61:1-4)
This drawing depicts a shattered person in mourning, who has been changed by the love and compassion of God. She springs up out of her sorrow in worship and dancing, grateful to the God who has had mercy upon her in her pain and suffering.
The black outline around the mourning woman represents death and despair. The blue outline around the joyful woman represents rivers of living water and references Jesus words in John 4:14:
“…but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The colors of joy and praise burst like rivers of living water out of the heart of the woman who was brokenhearted and shattered.
Something really interesting happened to me as I was doing this drawing:
I was nearly done with it, and I decided to add a little bit of color into the shattered shards inside the mourning woman. This was to symbolize the promise of hope for this shattered woman, even in the midst of her pain and brokenness.
I added color to one shard, and then another and another. I kept adding more and more color into the broken woman until I realized I was quickly going to “ruin” the drawing if I didn’t stop soon! Artistically, I needed to maintain the darkness and monotonality of the subject in order to properly convey her brokenness and despair.
But inside of me there was a huge battle to stop myself from coloring in all the shards. I could feel the Spirit of God filling me and desiring, as if my drawing was a real person, to color in all the shards and “heal” the person. I could feel the love and compassion of God strongly flowing through me to totally replace the shards with the colors of praise and worship and rivers of living water. I could feel the power and intense earnestness of God’s love wanting to fully restore the shattered person, to make them completely whole, just like the rejoicing person.
Now that I think about it, it is the same love of God I felt in my dream that inspired the drawing, “Please Let Me Love Your Pain Away” (Spiritual Warfare, Victory, Freedom and Healing Series).
Visually, I think I might have gone a little too far in coloring in the shards. But when I finally stopped myself, I just sat there, pondering what was happening. I could still feel the Holy Spirit filling me with the strong power of God’s love. As I waited, I felt like God was giving me a prophetic word to all who identify themselves as that mourning, shattered person. His word is:
(See also: “Casting Off The Cloak of Mourning” (Praise and Worship Series), “Please Let Me Love Your Pain Away” (Spiritual Warfare, Victory, Freedom and Healing Series) and “Broken Wings Learning to Fly Again” (Spiritual Warfare, Victory, Freedom, Healing Series)).