Living with the highs and the lows

This week, I continued to read the Psalms. I love the Psalms, they are truly honest. The vulnerability shown in each of them helps us to identify with the writer and allows us to be reassured that we’re not alone in our struggles.

How often in the Psalms have I read of frustration, disappointment, anger and confusion and can say, ‘Yes, same for me, too!’

A few days ago, I read Psalm 90:10 – a troubling verse that has played in my mind. ”But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble”. I felt myself say “same for me, too”. But how does this fit In with all the other verses that talk about the greatness of God and his steadfast love, let alone powerful verses like, “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” (Psalm 23)

Today, I was talking to an amazing Christian man who has lost his driving licence due to illness. This will affect his job, finances and his family. This is not just a bad day, this is a food-on-the-table, roof-overhead situation. How can I give him the pat answer of “wastelands in deserts”, “God will make a path”, “God will open a door”? Is this what God would want me to say?

I came home, put the kids to bed and watched a comedy talk show. In the programme, they interviewed Rob Delaney, a famous actor who’s experienced great success this year in writing and acting. He is married with 4 boys and one on the way.

Delaney has had many battles in the past and has overcome some big hurdles, including depression and alcoholism. In 2002, Delaney blacked out while driving and drove his car into a building. He broke his left wrist and right arm and had both of his knees scratched to the bone. This prompted Delaney to stop drinking, and he has been sober since February 2002.

So he’s had a tough time.  But now he’s on TV having an interview…

“Congratulations on your amazing success this year, what makes it even more incredible is how horrific your year has been”. Rob went on to talk very honestly. His son Henry had died, age two and a half, after having been diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2016 and treated extensively.  This profoundly affected him in every area of his life and he went into painful detail about how he struggles to come to terms with this loss.

In this painful time, he found out his wife was pregnant.  He talked about how he was writing the best comedy but kept having to leave the room to cry, or sometimes he just sat and cried at his work.

What a conundrum … the huge success of his TV series and writing career mixed with a horrifically painful year.

How can we show Jesus’ love, compassion and care for us but also stay honest in the hardest of times? How can we survive the lowest of lows and testify to Gods grace and steadfastness?

Growing up, I could not understand the story of the Israelites. They were saved from slavery, went through the desert, experienced miracle after miracle, experienced clouds and fire to guide them, and still doubted God.

I mean, who wouldn’t want their own personal cloud or fire showing them where to go, and food dropping from heaven every day? These were first-hand, daily miracles. Yet they moaned, doubted, and strayed from God – if not in the path, in their hearts.

I don’t want to be an Israelite straining from God, moaning every time things don’t work out or bad things happen and trouble comes my way.  I don’t want the best years of my life that contain pain and trouble to be remembered as pain and trouble.  Instead, I want to remember the amazing things God does for us in that hard time.

I don’t want to miss the miracles happening every day because I’m so focused on what I don’t have and not what God has done. I don’t want to miss the opportunity to tell others about Gods love in the darkest of days and His closeness when all goes wrong. I don’t want to act like an Israelite doubting God will come through.

But unfortunately, sometimes I do.  God has been there for me over the years and he had been faithful in the small and big things.  But still, as a new obstacle arrives at my door, I can doubt He will come through for me. And I hear the small voice saying, ‘Do you trust me with this?’

God is within the highs and lows of life.  He is with us when we feel on top of the world or lying on our bed crying in pain, anger and disappointment.

We will have pain and trouble and if we wait only for the times in our life when things are all great to show and tell of Gods love, we are not being honest.  If you want people to see true honesty, let them see your scars. Life makes scars – some heal quick and don’t leave a mark but other mark us, change us, and even define us. I don’t see this as negative but rather an opportunity to show God in all his glory. I know in my hardest of times God had been closer and I’ve been able to tell of his ever-present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1)

Back to the verses that got me thinking – Psalm 90:10: ‘But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble.’ Just one chapter later, we read Psalm 91v2:

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.  He will cover you with his feathers,and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

We must lean into hard times, expect the storms of life, not be afraid, trust in him and remember his promises. Read the Bible and see what God’s people go through.  When we read how God protected them and cared for them, you can say ‘yes, same for me, too!’

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