The Secret To Finding Peace In Pain

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handsscapeIn the midst of a battle with cancer, Pastor Tim Keller stands before a congregation that has missed and prayed for him. He used the sharing of his battle to also invite his congregation to step into the place where he was currently living: a place of peace. “How do you face troubles like this with peace?” he asked. “The ultimate way to handle the troubles of life with peace is not through petitionary prayer, but through worship.”

His body weak from treatments and eagerly anticipating a vacation, he musters the strength to stand before his church for just one sermon. He tells the story of a woman who has inherited an old brooch, which has been thrown into a pile of other bobbles with little consideration.

 She finds it one day and says, “Oh that old thing! Maybe I should get it appraised.” She expects little. The jeweler is unimpressed at first glance. However, upon inspection he notices the refraction of light, the textures, the colors, and the brightness. He begins to breath heavily and pops the looking glass from his eye in amazement. He has just observed the fine art of a craft no longer alive. An ancient art. This is a priceless jewel. He is amazed and it is evident in the sparkle in his eyes, the pronounced rising and falling of his chest, the energy in his countenance and the pace of his voice as he shares the news.

The reason his mind and will and emotion is suddenly engaged is because he suddenly realizes he is holding something that is more valuable than all the jewels in his shop. As the woman comes to understand the true value and is thunder struck, she realizes she has not been living in accordance with the full value of what she had. And so she, too, grows wide-eyed and exuberant.

This is worship, explains Keller.

Have you ever experienced that kind of new awareness of God’s great worth that makes you just breathe deeply and burst into spontaneous worship? Maybe you’re a crier? (I’m an ugly-crier. When the Holy Spirit makes himself known to me the ugly-tears burst forth.) Maybe you’re a dancer? Or a giggler? Or just a pensive, calm girl? Have you known that moment when you are just fully aware in your body, mind, soul, and spirit that HE IS? Oh, I pray that you have known that moment at least once. Perhaps you have. It began with a cognitive quest for understanding—the solving of a problem. Oh, but it ended in a new and sudden awareness of God’s artistry and power and worth.

Is there any moment in our lives where we are more aware of God’s artistry and power and worth than when we behold our children for the first time? For Lexi, my only natural birth, I looked over her entire body as the nurse held her for me. Then, I reached out and touched her for the first time. Her nose was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life, so I placed my thumb into the softy, perky curve of it. At that moment I imagined God pressing it into shape. And my spirit soared in gratitude. I worshipped. Spontaneously. Loudly. Ugly-cry and all. I experienced this moment with each of my children. With Robby, it would come after the anesthesia of a c-section wore off at Phelps County Regional Medical Center in Rolla, MO. With Autumn, it would come in the “gotcha room” of a nondescript yet none-the-less sacred government building in Nanchang, China. An eruption of knowing. God is. God loves. God does.

I pray that you would find the worth of the God who gifted your children to you over and over again. In my new book The 20 Hardest Questions Every Mom Faces: Praying Your Way To Realistic, Biblical Answers, we find soul-healing answers to our mom-questions with Hannah as our mentor.

Let me show you how the story ends: Hannah, having just dropped her son off to serve God as Eli the Priest’s assistant, is worshipping. It could easily have been a painful day. Imagine dropping your kid off at boarding school when he was only five or six! But we don’t find Hannah in the same angst that we saw in our first encounter with her in the Scriptures where she is weeping for a child. Instead, we see her erupting into praise:

Hannah prayed: I’m bursing with God-news! I’m walking on air. I’m laughing at my rivals. I’m dancing my salvation. Nothing and no one is holy like God, No rock mountain like our God. Don’t dare talk pretentiously— Not a word of boasting, ever! For God knows what’s going on. He takes the measure of everything that happens. The weapons of the strong are smashed to pieces, While the weak are infused with fresh strength. The well-fed are out begging in the streets for crusts, While the hungry are getting second helpings. The barren woman has a houseful of children, While the mother of many is bereft.” I Samuel 2:1-5

Hannah knows that her petitions to God are quite incomplete if not punctuated by praise and worship. I think that this was not the first time she’d sung a Psalm to God. She’d been practicing by dwelling on the goodness of God with each petition and every act of waiting. She had learned to find peace in the praise.

“The ultimate way to handle the troubles of life with peace is not through petitionary prayer, but through worship.” -Pastor Tim Keller

This is an excerpt of the closing chapter in my newest book. Order your copy of The 20 Hardest Questions Every Mom Faces today.