Guest post by Dena Yohe
Over ten years ago, my husband and I started a ministry to brokenhearted parents. A mom whose child almost died sent me an email one day: “As a parent, getting the news that your child is gravely (and perhaps mortally) injured is life altering. I had no idea what it meant to be truly terrified. I never even realized that I didn’t know what true fear was. The altered consciousness, the limited focus, the way, hours later, I realized I still couldn’t breathe properly. I’d hurt muscles and scraped my feet but never even processed those things because the part of my heart that lives in my daughter was nearly broken beyond repair.”
My heart went out to her because her words resonated with my own experiences. Yes, part of me lives in my children. Another statement I’d heard that resonated with me was this: “We’re only as happy as our saddest child.”
No wonder I’m a mess. My daughter has struggled with substance abuse, mental illness, and self-harm for many years.
Has your heart almost been broken beyond repair?
Have you been truly terrified?
As I write these words, I nod in affirmation. Maybe you’re nodding, too.
When my heart shattered over my daughter’s destructive choices and struggles, I entered another realm. Fear blanketed my heart. Years later, finding the words to describe my brokenness is still difficult. If you have a troubled child, you know. You’ve been there.
This passage from the Bible brought me comfort:
We are hard pressed, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body (2 Corinthians 4: 8-10 NIV).
Dear mom or dad, we may be mystified and baffled, but we’re not hopeless. We’re not beyond help. When we bring the shattered pieces of our lives to the Lord and lay them at his feet, He can put them together again.
We won’t be the same though.
Suffering changes us, BUT God transforms the broken.
I like what author and pastor Mark Vroegop said in an interview: “Suffering is hard but hard isn’t necessarily bad. Our pain can bring us strange and unwanted gifts. God has gifted us with our pain.”
He uses pain to shape us more into the likeness of his Son and prepare us for heaven. In divine wisdom and by His mighty power, what appears ruined to us is redeemed. Vroegop went on to say once we’ve had time to grieve, “It’s time for us to make our pain a platform for worship.”
How is this possible? Scripture encourages us to focus on the good our suffering can accomplish.
The apostle Paul, who penned 2 Corinthians, understood. He and his companions endured severe trials. Notice the verbs he used in verses 8–10:
Hard pressed. Persecuted. Perplexed. Struck down . . . BUT . . .
Not crushed, not perplexed, not in despair, not abandoned, not destroyed.
How did they stay strong? They kept an eternal perspective. They acknowledged their suffering was hard, but hard wasn’t necessarily bad. They had confidence this chapter of their lives wasn’t the end of the story.
Paul continued: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen in temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (v. 16-18).
They knew God had more.
They let their pain become a platform for worship.
The Holy Spirit renewed them day by day and showed them the temporary nature of their suffering. What really mattered was invisible, couldn’t be taken from them, or cease to exist.
Their present reality—their hard—wasn’t the last word. They staked their lives on this truth.
They were broken, BUT not beyond repair.
The same can be true for us.
Prayer: Dear God, I need Your help. My heart is broken over my child. Sadness crushes me. My pain is all-consuming. Show me how to focus on truth during these hard times. Train my soul to believe hard is not bad…it’s just hard. Real hard. Set my gaze on Jesus and the eternal glory that awaits me. I may be broken, BUT I’m not beyond repair. In His life-altering name. Amen.
Reflection: What can you do today to keep your focus on the eternal instead of on what breaks your heart?
Dena Yohe is the award-winning author of You Are Not Alone: Hope for Hurting Parents of Troubled Kids (2016) endorsed by Dr. James Dobson, Family Life, and Focus on the Family. Co-founder of Hope for Hurting Parents, blogger, CRU affiliate staff, and former pastor’s wife, she’s the mom of three amazing adults, loves music, reading, and time with her grandchildren.