Recently, my heart has been breaking a lot, and it hasn’t felt great. In fact, at times I wondered if something were seriously wrong with me. Unable to shake a heaviness that didn’t seem to match my circumstances, I finally asked God what was wrong. “Why do I keep having bad dreams, God? Why do I feel so sad? What is going on with me?”
And I realized that this was what God had wanted the whole time, simply for me to turn to Him and ask. I felt relief at knowing He was with me. But I didn’t hear a clear answer. At least not immediately.
The Promised Land
At times I have felt like one of the Old Testament prophets who felt extreme emotions on behalf of God’s people or in response to what God had revealed. Perhaps, I reasoned, there was a Bible character who could give me insight into my current season. So I asked God to whom in the Bible I could look for wisdom and encouragement. Jeremiah? Ezekiel? Who could be a role model for me?
Again I didn’t hear an answer, so I assumed my question was unimportant and irrelevant, but the very next day, unprompted, a friend prayed over me these words:
“You are like Joshua. God will give you every place you set your foot.”
Joshua? The guy who led Israel into the Promised Land? I teared up at the reassurance that God had heard my simple question and teared up in wonder at his answer. I had expected God to give me a weeping prophet as my role model, instead He presented a conqueror.
“Be strong and courageous because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” (Joshua 1:5-6)
“If you find yourself in dark places,” my friend prayed, “it’s because God wants you to fight there, to bring light.”
Earlier that day, I had had an emotional conversation with God in which the issue of belonging arose. “When you were young, you never felt like you belonged,” God whispered. “That is the sorrow you are feeling right now, the sorrow of being alone.” I was in the middle of a prayer meeting, but I couldn’t stop crying.
The person leading prayer told us to ask God about our personal life callings, and something random made me laugh. Suddenly I was giggling quite a bit. And then God spoke again:
“This is it. This JOY. This is your anointing and life calling. I have anointed you to bring JOY into the darkness. I have anointed to bring safety to those who feel alone. Don’t you see how all the sorrow you’ve experienced has perfectly prepared you to reach those who have lost hope?”
That was when everything began to make sense.
When my friend told me later that night that I was like Joshua, it was the final puzzle piece falling into place. God was calling me to be bold. This was not the time to cower in fear or avoid the sorrow. This was the time to engage the heartbreak, to take a stand in the midst of the darkness and declare light.
“I will give you every place you set your foot. Be strong and very courageous.”
Connected to God’s Heart
Sometimes I think of my heavy emotions as something to conquer. I imagine reaching a place where I solely feel excitement and happiness. But I’m beginning to accept that that is not going to happen this side of heaven. Not if I want to stay connected to God’s heart.
There are big, heavy things going on in the world, and God feels sorrow about them. God never withholds his emotions, and He never disengages. God could stay comfortable up in paradise, but instead, He lets his heart break.
And while my heart may not be big enough to bear all the sorrows of the entire world, slowly God is expanding it.
When I attended a prayer meeting for orphans in Korea five years ago, I had no idea how much my heart would break. When I decided to watch a documentary about the issue of prostitution in Korea (Save My Seoul) a few months ago, I had no idea how shaken I would be. When I moved to Korea six years ago, I had no idea how many tears I would shed over the sorrows of this nation. But each time my heart breaks, I have the privilege of understanding God’s heart more fully.God could stay comfortable up in paradise, but instead, He lets His heart break. Click To Tweet
Last week, as I volunteered as support crew for Ride Against Traffic Korea––a 550km four-day journey to raise awareness about sex trafficking in Korea––I cried fresh tears over the dark realities of this nation. And I knew that no tear was wasted. As I watched the bikers push themselves to their limits, I felt inspired to continue to fight for hope. And I saw an important truth fleshed out: We are much stronger together than we can be on our own. We give each other strength.
The Light is Greater
In this world, we may get tired, and we may think we have reached the end of our strength, but take heart. Jesus has already overcome the world, and He will give us everything we need to press forward into victory. God is so beautiful. He transforms meek children into bold Joshua’s. He redeems dark pasts by turning them into doorways for others’ freedom. And He uses imperfect people to bring each other the breakthroughs they need.
I used to want to hide from the world. I wanted to create a cocoon for myself where I couldn’t get hurt. But now, having encountered God’s fierce, untiring love, I desire to boldly engage the world. Bolstered by the faith and encouragement of those around me, I am filled with courage. To fight. To claim ground for the Kingdom. And to continue to let my heart break.
If you find your heart breaking over injustice, don’t despair. That love is powerful. If you have a painful past, don’t be ashamed. God wants to use it. And if you have been growing weary or losing your hope, know that God has fresh strength to give you. All you have to do is ask.