I originally shared this several years ago, but felt led to share it again for myself, and maybe for someone else who stumbles across it today.
I still live in the same town where my first husband took his life. My life still takes me to the place where the detectives told me they had found his body; and I sometimes have to drive very near the place where he killed himself.
Twenty four years have passed. Life has moved on, and I have had many happy days . . . but something about those two places can transport every emotion back to that gut-wrenching time.
These are my pain places.
I suspect most of us have places that remind us of pain—where years-gone-by emotions can suddenly, almost physically, overwhelm us.
As I stood in one of my pain places, and began to feel my body start to shudder with those memories, God reminded me that I had never stood there alone.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isa. 43:2).
God alone “heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds” (Ps. 147:3).
As I thought on those verses the Lord laid on my heart, it was as if God was asking me to finally tear down that pain monument and replace it with a monument to Him.
He beckoned me to walk in freedom, even in this place that reminded me of so much pain.
He asked me to allow this pain place to cause me to worship all He has done for me, rather than all the enemy had tried to do.
I will remember the pain, but I won’t be consumed by it. Instead, I will praise my Father.
Remembering God inhabits the praises of His people, I began to silently cry out praises to Him. I thanked Him for picking up my broken heart, for providing for me and my little boys, and for carrying me when I did not think I could go on.
As I remembered God’s goodness, it was if the demons dropped their weapons and moved on. The air began to feel lighter, and I began to notice the laughter of people around me.
Once again, my faithful Father brought victory out of darkness.
Once again, I looked up at heaven and smiled, remembering He is my refuge and an ever-present help in times (Ps. 46:1) and places of trouble.
That day my place of pain became a place of praise.
Now, I won’t lie. I fully expect that the next time I find myself walking through the fire at my pain place, I will remember the pain.
But I won’t be consumed by it.
Instead, I will praise my Father, who has always been with me and who is still teaching me to walk closer to Him.
He is peace, hope, and joy. And we can know these precious truths, not only in our victories, but sometimes more so in our places of pain.
Father, may those places of pain . . . those places where we received the bad news, those places where we have hurt so deeply, serve to remind us of your faithfulness.
May we tear down the altars to the pain, and with your help, rebuild them as altars of praise. As we stand in these places, may we be remember we are indeed still standing . . . because of You. Thank you, Lord, that you alone can bring beauty from ashes in everything and at every place. Amen.