When anything catastrophic happens, we often tend to pull down the shades on the windows and bury ourselves under the covers of our bed. We hide. Sometimes we have a full blown pity party. Other times, we stay out of sight because we are too tired to do anything else. When someone is walking through the dark path of suffering, emotions are heightened and nearly everything produces deep sadness.
A.W. Tozer said, "God dwells in His creation and is everywhere indivisibly present in all His works. He is transcendent above all His works even while He is immanent within them."
I remember the first time I went hiking. At that point in my journey, I was so full of hurt that I was completely numb inside. As I climbed, I felt the strain and it was as though the anger and confusion was being worked out of me. My deep hurt was seeping through my skin as sweat poured down my face. It was healing to physically feel the burn in my muscles and to breathe in something besides the scent of my bed sheets where I often hide. The longer I was outside, the stronger I felt and the more clear headed I became. Many hikes and walks have been taken when I have lost myself in the surroundings and simply cried, prayed or sang. There is something that takes place deep beneath our flesh when we bring all of our ugly into God's beautiful creation and look for Him there. Rest assured we will find Him in the things He has made. Here are just a few things that are helping me heal and may be helpful to you as well:
1. Focus on the designs. Find leaves, flowers, tree stumps, raindrops, clouds and bugs and focus on all the colors God used to paint His creation. Look at the intricate designs and let your heart marvel at the beauty and creativity of God. If He took the time to carefully create a masterpiece on a flower petal or on the back of a dragonfly, you can be assured that He will handle you carefully and lovingly as you heal.
2. Breathe in the air. It may be during summer's suffocating humidity or the cold burn of winter but take a deep breath again and again. Breathe in the air. Think of it as God's personal candle He has lit for you. It may smell like rain, like fresh cut grass, like sunflowers or like dirt and mud but breathe in and slowly breathe out and let your shoulders relax in the atmosphere God has given to you.
3. Exert yourself as much as possible. Don't go overboard. You know your limitations, but push your body to let the tension out. Walk a little faster. Run if you want. Climb higher. Push further. Sometimes we think we can outrun the pain but I believe instead of outrunning it, we should run it out or walk it out. God is well aware that the road we walk is hard and He is acquainted with all of our griefs, frustrations and even our bad attitudes. Go outside and blow off your steam in a way that is healthy and beneficial for your body and spirit.
4. Feel it all. Feel the sunlight. Feel the misty rain. Feel the heat, feel the cold, feel the rocks and feel the leaves. We are sometimes told to bury our feelings, but I do not find that in Scripture. We are only encouraged in God's Word how to direct our feelings. So let yourself feel the hurt that causes you to weep. Let yourself feel the righteous anger or even the fear from a situation out of your control. Go there. Then look up at the sky and ask the Lord to let you feel His yoke and His burden because He promises that they are much lighter than the heaviness of the pain we feel on earth. Seek His presence and let yourself feel Him close, because He is close.
5. Remind yourself of a new earth. As beautiful as this world is, it is not our final home. While the trees are strong, they still fall. While animals are cute, they still sting and/or bite. While roses are beautiful, they still have thorns. While you are out enjoying the beauty God has preserved for us in a sinful, cursed world, remind yourself that one day you will live in heaven. Creation is but a small snapshot of the glorious beauty that awaits us, so be comforted in that! Let your walks and your runs and your hikes give you eternity's eyes that see beyond the suffering on earth. There in heaven, you will be fully healed and fully able to worship our Creator the way we were always meant to.