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I cried myself to sleep last night. They weren’t tears over some tragedy, loss, or heartbreak; it wasn’t anything nearly that dramatic. They were simply tears of exhaustion and overwhelm; of frustration about all I had done wrong (or ceased to get done at all) in the day, and anxiety that today would be no better. They were the tears of a tired, hormonal mom who needed the relief of a few shed tears before my mind could slow its way into slumber.

If I’m being honest, it’s in moments like these—the exhausted, stressed, overwhelmed moments—that God seems farthest away. In a crisis, I cling to Him as my only comfort and hope. And in times of joy and contentment I rest in His goodness and felt presence. But when life is “okay enough” to skate by, though nowhere near where I wish it could be—when I’m surviving but not thriving—God can seem absent. Life isn’t hard enough to just let go, so I scramble to hang on, clinging to my own dwindling resources instead of to Him.

And yet: I know that God is not just a God of peaks and valleys, but also a God of the meandering middle. He desires to lend His loving presence and limitless comfort in my EVERY circumstance, including those tearful nighttime moments when I’m too tired and worn down to cry out to Him. I don’t need to wait until I’m on the brink of drowning to reach for His offered life raft; I can join Him in His rescue vehicle any time I please.

In her book The Hard Good, Lisa Whittle reminds us of the futility in what she calls the “Struggle Olympics,” in which we rate our discomfort or suffering and use that rating to determine whether or not we should feel as we do or should lean more heavily on God. Lisa writes, “Hard is hard. Pain is pain. We need to stop comparing them.” It’s true that my version of a “hard mom day” cannot compare to the “hard mom day” of a woman living on the streets, struggling for her very life and unable to provide for her children. My tears are not the devastating sobs of a woman who longs for children she will never have, or a mother who has said goodbye to a child too soon. But my felt level of “pain” does not factor into the equation of whether or not I need the Lord, or whether He is willing to join me in my tears. He is near to the brokenhearted and ALSO the joyful-hearted and the tired-hearted and the depleted-hearted. I can exhaustedly cry myself to sleep, knowing He is close.

Psalm 73 is a verse I will hold close this month as my reminder that the Lord is with me always, holding my hand and giving me counsel. He is my strength when I feel depleted, my advocate and helper when life feels overwhelming, my encourager when the tears continue to fall. This verse is also a critical reminder that all of this is temporary. This earth will pass away, but the Lord remains. My primary desire here on this earth should not be for an easier, pain-free existence, but for Him—my God who uses my very pain to form my eternal soul. No joy or sadness or hardship or pain is wasted in God’s economy. Remembering this, I can experience purpose and (more importantly) His presence and goodness in EVERY moment, from the highs to the lows and all that is between.

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