By Beth Winze
I can barely stand right now
Everything is crashing down
And I wonder where You are.
These past few days I have existed in a thick bubble of heartbreak. I feel like at any moment more tears could burst from my eyes, but the fact is, they don’t seem to ever stop at times. It had been twelve hours since I cried last and then that song came on the radio. I had played it all day Saturday between counseling meetings and trying to comprehend the shock of the entire situation. “Broken Hallelujah” spoke to me on such a deep level that I felt like my heart had actually written it. When it started the first few lines I sang along, but when it got to the chorus I broke down. My mom looked over at me and said, “It’s amazing how God provides a song for every moment in our lives that personally speak to us at that moment.” Right now “Broken Hallelujah” is my song that I have been singing from a torn up heart.
I don’t know the context of the song’s origin, but for our church and me, it fits our feelings in a way no one can describe. Friday night we learned of our new reality. Our pastor took his life. Not only did we lose a senior pastor that our church looked up to, but I lost a cherished friend. All I have been doing all weekend is going through a grief cycle I haven’t had to learn until now. I truly know what it means to grieve. Distracting myself is great for the moment, but when I’m all alone it hits me hard. It has become a physical pain that I carry around with me. The closer we got to church on Sunday the heavier my heart felt. When I sat down in the chair waiting for the service to start, I felt a deep ache. When the elders and pastors took their place on stage I couldn’t take anymore. His last sermon on Romans 8:28 seemed so tragically fitting for the events we are now living out.
“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.”
A few week ago, I wouldn’t have believed I would have to lean on one passage of scripture so much. I didn’t understand how this could be for good at all. It hurts. It feels wrong. It is uncomfortable to feel weighted down every minute. I think that is why grieving takes so many levels in people. We know joy, we remember joy, and we remember what makes us happy the most. But when we are lead into a period of mourning and grieving, it’s not something we welcome. It is not natural for a person to want to sit in grief all day long.
I try to find the words to pray
I don’t always know what to say
But You’re the one that can hear my heart
For the first time in my life, I couldn’t form a normal conversation. Instead I felt like a completely insane person that couldn’t arrange a sentence to say what I was feeling. When people would hug me and ask how I was dealing with the grief, I just looked at them, shook my head, and tried to say something without stuttering or losing my mind. I tried to pray all weekend. Cry out to God and ask “Why? What’s Your big plan in all this? Why would you make us walk through this?” But all that came out were sobs instead of words. But God knew my heart even when I didn’t know what to feel. And that was prayer enough. He knew what my heart wanted to say and that was my prayer. When my words weren’t coming to mind, God was. God orchestrated everything I came across this weekend to remind me to turn back to Him for comfort. I follow Kyle Idleman, the author of Not A Fan, on Twitter and this weekend he posted a tweet that were words my soul needed.
I’ve seen joy and I’ve seen pain
On my knees, and I call Your name.
Here’s my broken hallelujah
Because of my grieving heart, I can truly say that I have learned to appreciate the depth of my joys. And when I find that joy again, it will only make the pain I am in now so much more understandable. And that’s what I’ve got to keep leaning on and trusting that I will find joy again. This weekend has caused me to realize that being weak in front of Christ is never wrong. I never wanted to go to Christ when I was weak or broken , because I felt like in front of an all-powerful King, my matters would not be taken to mind. But I have begun to realize that Christ does His best work in our hearts when we have absolutely nothing left to give Him. I have raised my hands up to Him offering Him what is left of my broken heart. Singing on Sunday morning, “How Great Thou Art” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness” truly made me realize what lifting a broken hallelujah to Christ is. When you can barely sing because the emotions try to take over your mind and you feel hopeless, but you still sing to Him, even if it’s a cry of hurt. That is a broken hallelujah.
With nothing left to hold onto
I raise my these empty hands to you
Here’s my broken hallelujah
Ever since we learned of his passing Friday night, my daily Bible verses sent to my phone have been nothing but God’s way of speaking to me.
Saturday morning the verse on my Bible app was 1 Corinthians 15:56-57 – “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This morning the verse was Isaiah 25:8 – “he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.”
I didn’t want to go to church Sunday morning and realize that he won’t be there anymore. I found such encouragement through his teachings and he was the one who pulled me from Sunday school lessons into the sanctuary to worship with the rest of the church. I keep remembering things about him and interactions I had with him more and more every day. My mom tells me that she believes this is God’s way of allowing healing to be around the corner, fond memories will replace the heartbreak at some point.
God has been nothing but vocal to me these past few days. I want to share the Jesus Calling lesson today that I read this afternoon. Nothing has penetrated my heart more deeply than Sarah Young’s words today.
“Trust Me, and don’t be afraid. Many things feel out of control. Your routines are not running smoothly. You tend to feel more secure when your life is predictable. Let Me lead you to the rock that is higher than you and your circumstances. Take refuge in the shelter of My wings, where you are absolutely secure. When you are shaken out of your comfortable routines, grip My hand tightly and look for growth opportunities. Instead of bemoaning the loss of your comfort, accept the challenge of something new. I lead you on from glory to glory, making you fit for My kingdom. Say yes to the ways I work in your life. Trust Me, and don’t be afraid.”
On Sunday when the elders and pastors presented themselves in front of the church, there was an undeniable strength through them. Our youth pastor spoke a few words that remind me of the joy that follows pain. He gave us the story of Christ’s death- fitting as Good Friday and Easter occur this week. He told us how he imagined the disciples felt while they watched their friend dying a painful, hour’s long death. How the felt when He drew His final breath, and realizing the fact that He was gone. That was Friday. On Sunday, the feeling they got when the found the stone rolled away and their Christ resurrected. Our pastor’s point was that for every Friday we experience, there will be a Sunday. For every hour of grief we face I believe that God will give us a day of joy.
Tonight was our pastor’s visitation. Walking into CBC this afternoon it was rainy and cloudy matching my heartbreak. But walking out we were greeted with this sunset. I think this is God’s way of promising us that there is a sunset behind the storm clouds we are currently under. It’s just behind these clouds. And this is my broken hallelujah.