The message app lit up on my phone. Reading the words in that text bubble weighed heavily on my heart. “The days have been excruciating and I just can’t get out of this darkness. Every bone in my body is aching and thoughts of not wanting to live anymore are suffocating me. I don’t know what to do . . .”

Life for this young woman had been wonderful, and the future was bright with plans she and her love mapped out together. Until one early morning in December when the love of her life was suddenly taken in death.

A broken heart that has suffered trauma goes deep. Emotional suffering, unseen by the human eye, is as real as a crushed bone. Reeling in the darkness of sorrow, our thoughts swirl like a vortex telling us we will never love, or laugh, or live again without this pain.

Searing loss can come in different forms . . . trauma, grief, a break-up, betrayal, a prolonged illness. When life dissolves, we feel alone in a harsh world. There is a loneliness we can’t escape, even in a crowded room. Why would God let this happen? Will I ever be happy again? There are no easy answers.

I send up a prayer for her.

God help her to see what You might be up to.  

I offer a tender response to her question.

Yes, God does want us to be happy. But in a way much deeper than we think.

We are preoccupied with finding happiness, and this world tells us that means a life free from suffering. But what if the path to true happiness actually leads us through unavoidable times of great sorrow? This is a difficult concept for most of us to wrap our minds around, especially when we are young in our faith or life experience.

As Christians, we must learn to look from a different angle. We must begin with seeing that the ultimate act of love was revealed on the Cross, where Jesus willingly embraced and endured suffering for our sake.

The only sure way that I know for navigating the deep earthly sorrows we experience is to hold onto the message of love that Jesus Christ expressed, once and for all, through the unspeakable pain He endured on the Cross for us.

God loves you. Will you trust Him?

I explained to her, the best I knew how, what Peter meant when he wrote that fiery trials result in something more precious than gold (I Peter 4:12).

Fire is hot. Fire is painful.

But even gold in its raw state is mingled with impurities. When our faith is put through the fire, it emerges more resilient, powerful and pure.

God’s ways are mysterious indeed, but His faithfulness remains.

I gently reminded her that she is God’s chosen child and He does not waste our sufferings. She would emerge from this fire with a faith more beautiful and true than if she had not been tested this way.

What if the future is not what you thought . . . but even better? Will you trust Him?

Like suffering Job who observed, “These are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him” (Job 26:14).

God is at work. Wait for it. It will be good.