When Comfort Is Stripped Away

Gwen Smith Blog, Broken into Beautiful, Grief, Healing, Relationships, Sorrow, Trials, Trusting God 15 Comments

Trusting God can be hard.

I’ve been through hard times.

I’ve asked the question why on many occasions.

I’ve begrudgingly said goodbye to family and friends in order to say hello to strangers and scary new places.

I know the matter of being shattered.

There was a season when Brad and I lived in four different homes, in four different states, within four years. It was a difficult time. From Ohio to Pennsylvania to New York to North Carolina, we made our way across the East Coast with three little ducklings in tow. Back then, the uncertainty of tomorrow caused me a great deal of stress. A certain muscle in my back is twitching just thinking about it.

The chaos began when we lived in a snuggly little town just outside Akron, Ohio and God had just nudged me into public music ministry. I sensed Him asking me to join Him on a new faith adventure, and I said, “Yes!”

So, after much praying and planning, I sifted through a list of songs I had written, raised money, connected with a producer, flew to Nashville, and recorded my first CD. Did I mention that I also had two very active little boys under the age of three, and that I was pregnant with our third child? (Go ahead, laugh. The timing didn’t make sense to me either.)

At the same time, Brad was doing well with his company and would soon be promoted. It was also a time of rapid and rich spiritual growth for Brad. He’d become the leader of our adult Sunday school class at church and led admirably. I was so proud of him.

We loved our church, were plugged into ministries, and got along famously with our neighbors.

We were comfortable, content, and settled. Life was good.

But it seems to me that God doesn’t necessarily always want us to be comfortable and content. (I say that tongue in cheek, of course.)

Our comfort turned to chaos quickly when, just weeks before Kennedy was born, Brad accepted a job promotion that would uproot us from Akron and transplant us just outside Philadelphia.

Saying goodbye to our community was torture.

We’d blossomed into young adults in Ohio. We exchanged our sacred marriage vows there. Gave birth to our babies there. We grew in faith as a family there.

With each farewell, the weight of sadness grew heavier. When moving day arrived and all the boxes had been loaded, we hugged our neighbors one last time then drove away. As our home faded from sight, I realized a part of my heart would always live in Ohio.

Once we got to our new house, I cried buckets of tears out of frustration, exhaustion, and sadness.

Tension and stress became my new closest friends.

The moment I said yes to God, so much of what had been comfortable and familiar was stripped away from my life. Of course, the timing wasn’t coincidental. God allowed what was comfortable to be removed. He then led me to a place where I would have to trust Him and lean on Him in ways I never had before.

Broken became my middle name.

When we moved the only thing I could do was hunker down, spread out my motherly wings, and care for the babes in my nest.

I changed diapers, chased toddlers, and cherished naptimes for almost a year. Friendships blossomed between me and other young moms, and the ladies’ Bible study at church became a vital link to both God and other women. As I studied Scripture, the Lord began to birth new songs in my heart, and although I wasn’t serving in music ministry right then, I processed my faith and life by writing songs.

Fourteen months after our transition, when the chaos had finally turned to calm, Brad hesitantly announced that it was time to move again. He would take over a territory in Syracuse, New York.

Were we the punch line in someone else’s joke?

We always said we wanted to live in a sunny, warm place. Now we were heading further north. Yuck. We prayed fervently about the move and felt God leading us in that direction, but I wondered if God’s compass was broken. As we packed boxes once again, questions danced around in my mind.

Had I heard Him wrong?

Why would God call me to a task and then herd me across the country like a nomad’s cow?

Starting over in New York had a strangely familiar feel. The first few months were busy and lonely. I spent much time meeting neighbors, figuring out the aisles at the new grocery stores, and finding out the best routes to take to Wal-Mart, to the post office, and to the pediatrician’s office.

Finding a new church was a whole ‘nother challenge. But, in time, the matters of being shattered eventually lessened as we assimilated into the community and a wonderful church family.

The Syracuse summers were lush, but the winters were long. Though snow fell often, to the tune of 150 inches a year, God’s grace fell even more. He blessed me with deep friendships, intense Bible studies, and godly leadership from the pastors at our church. Brad and I immersed ourselves into the community, even though we anticipated that our time in New York would be brief.

Then, seventeen short months after we unpacked in Syracuse, Brad accepted a new, can’t-pass-it-up business opportunity, and we moved to sunny Charlotte, North Carolina.

What an exhausting journey.

With each move I experienced both bitter and sweet moments, but the aftertaste of the bitter moments seemed to linger a little longer than the sweet ones.

It was a difficult four years.

I’ve heard it said, “If the mountain was smooth, you couldn’t climb it.” There’s a lot of truth to that. Through the mountain of pain I scaled in each move, God brought me closer to Him and taught me important lessons that I surely wouldn’t have learned otherwise. Lessons about trusting God with my friendships, with goodbyes, with loneliness, with family, anger, stress, and faith. Through it all, I’ve come to know this for sure: in all things—even the hard things—God can be trusted.

I know from personal experience that in the painful, tear-filled, exhausting days, God is still good and can still be trusted. He is faithful.

I’ve witnessed His strength in my weakness.

I’ve felt His comfort in times of loss.

And though we aren’t always kept from experiencing shattered matters, we never have to endure them alone.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters.
(Psalm 18:16)

Dear Lord,
Thank you for always being by my side and for giving me your strength and grace when I am simply weak and broken. Please help me look to you in every shattered matter.
In Jesus’ Name, amen

 

FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE

Read Psalm 34, then write out your favorite verses and commit them to memory.

CONNECT: Is there someone you know who needs to read this message? Forward this email. Post it on your social media sites. Share the hope of healing. Then let’s meet on my blog to PRAY for one another today.

Feel like giving up? Exhausted and worn? Learn how God wants to bring you beyond your past heart-wounds and your present challenges to His wholeness, strength and beauty. Broken into Beautiful is a book filled with stories – real stories … gritty and honest, not cleaned up and phony. It’s also filled with Scripture that will inspire you toward the life-changing grace of Jesus. Get yours from Amazon here.

Praying for you and with you today,

GWEN

 

PS. Be sure to listen to the most recent GRACEOLOGIE podcast episodes for fun, faith-focused, grace-filled conversations that will help you know and trust God more!


Click here to listen now!

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Comments 15

  1. Your message this morning brought back memories of the mountains I climbed during an unwanted divorce. But my prayer request today is for my daughter. She recently discovered her husband is a substance abuser and despite a stint in rehab, is continuing to use and then lie to hide it. They have two young sons(8 and 2). During the pandemic she was working from home, but was recently called to return to the office. He is not working, and she struggles leaving their children home with him. I live 5 hours away, so I’m unable to help. His parents are in denial and are enabling his continued use which has caused a rift in their relationship with my daughter! They reached out to their pastor, who informed her husband that until he can be honest, they can’t restore their marriage. It’s a huge mountain, please pray. Her name is Alyssa. Thank you!

  2. Please, please, pray for me. I am so broken and alone that I am crying as I write this…at work! After being laid off from my job, I prayed for almost two years to find my place, something that was meaningful and would allow us to get away from the toxic environment we were in. So, I was hired and moved first ONLY to have my husband change his mind and stay in this other town…a town full of haunting hurts and daunting people. He refuses to leave his many ‘friendgirls’ which has nearly ruined our marriage. I can’t go back, he won’t leave, and I am broken in a million pieces. Just as I thought I could start a new church, Covid19 hit! I cry, I can’t sleep, and I find myself doubting everything God has given me…today as I read the blog, I could only believe that Jesus heard me, had a word, and provided a prayer warrior! Thank you in advance and thank you for being the carrier of the blessing!

  3. Good morning Gwen,

    As I read the devotional for today I thought for sure you were talking about me. I really need prayer today. The other day I said I can’t take anymore please Lord. First my husband has cancer then get get meningitis now he has to learn to walk again. Then my grandson born just a few days ago. He is not going to make it. I’m so tired. I want God spirit to help me his power his strength not to get depressed. When we got married we had a song played “Climb Every Mountain” well I’m so glad it wasn’t a smooth mountain.

  4. Hi, Gwen,
    I really appreciate Girlfriends in God. I have been helped many times by the things that are shared there. Today I felt the things you’re describing, even though my circumstances are very different. My husband and I retired to another part of our state, and I left my home of thirty-two years. The move, the virus, family who’re in some distress have made me feel great anxiety. I’ve been seeing a counselor and using other tools to recover. God has been speaking to me in a number of ways to heal me.

    When I read Psalm 34 this morning, these are the verses that stood out, though the whole Psalm felt like medicine.

    17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
    And delivers them out of all their troubles.
    18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
    And saves such as have a crushed spirit.

    19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
    But the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

    Thank you for your faithfulness.

  5. Dear Gwen,
    In love the way you write and express your feelings about the leading of God in your life. I was downhearted today about my younger son who has a number of disabilities. He feels that God doesn’t listen to or hear his prayers. He works but feels that he has developed PTSD due to the way he is being treated at his job by co-workers and his supervisor. I want to send a letter to the state on his behalf but worry that that may make it worse. Please pray for him that God will help him to find another job with the state thereby allowing him to keep his retirement benefits and feel comfortable in a job until he is ready to retire. I am retired and can’t take care of him financially. Thank you for your belief and your expectations from God.

  6. Thanks for this encouragement just what I needed in this hard time.
    Continue to encourage other as the Lord would have you to do.

  7. I agree that moving houses is stressing ….i always longed for permanent home and I am to move again soon , 💖💖 hopefully into nice, clean, fresh, peaceful pretty house

    Pray for me, Gwen

    You are very sweet and I love your style of speaking

  8. My husband and I live in Belize, transplanted from Canada about 5.5 years ago. We own a restaurant and have been trying to sell our property for over 2.5 years. A very promising lead was coming our way, then Covid hit and Belize was shut down and as of this writing is still shut down.
    We have been praying for a sale so we can go back to Canada to be with our family. We have a Dad who is 95, my mother-in-law who is 93, two grown children, four grandsons, and a fifth grandson coming soon.
    During this time of asking God for a buyer, our faith is being challenged and at times we feel strong and then there are times when we feel weak and wonder how we will carry on for another day. This might sound selfish but we just want to be in Canada with our family. To be able to hug and to hold those who are dearest to us once again.

    1. Hi Marg,
      I am a fellow Canadian, living in BC. I am so sorry that you are not able to be with your family right now. My son is in Edmonton and my daughter, son in law and grandson in Saskatoon and it is so hard to have this distance between us. But not to even be in the same country…my heart goes out to you! Please know that I am upholding you and your husband in prayer, and know that God is right beside you, in the midst of all this sorrow and uncertainty. Each day is one day closer to returning home 🤗

  9. Gwen, a lovely post today- as always I appreciate your sharing your stories. Today I would ask you to consider labeling today’s story as a “challenge” to overcome, not “hard times”. Hard times is what a number of people are going through now, losing loved ones to one or more of the diseases running rampant over our country now, not knowing how rent/mortgages will be paid, not being able to work, whether from a layoff, furlough, or having contracted Covid-19…You are privileged, yes PRIVILEGED, to have the challenges you’ve had and the support system to ensure you nor your precious children missed a meal and always had/have safe shelter. I’m being critical yes, but real…there are people dealing with REAL HARD TIMES – let’s not mix-up the two. God bless you and your family.

    1. They were hard times to her. Don’t judge our precious leader. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, and there should not be from others in the Body of Christ.

  10. Thank you. A wonderful example of trusting and following our God through obedience, even when we don’t know the “why is this…” or understand.

  11. This was so timely for me today…..thank you so much for sharing. I’m always so very encouraged by others’ stories. I also love your podcast!! thank you for how you minister to others…..you need to know how significant it is and that God uses you in a BIG way!!

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