One of the crazy things about winter is the ability of the freezing and thawing ground to bring up objects you’d never imagine were there. Even in areas that have been vacant for years.
That can be hazardous. In pastures, for example, bits of old metal and other debris unearthed by frost heave can injure horses—yet another reason for owners to check their fields regularly.
Sometimes we experience a similar phenomenon in our spiritual lives. We bury pain, doubts, questions, sin, and other issues we feel we can’t or don’t want to handle…only to have them work their way to the surface later and wreak havoc.
Now, I don’t believe every issue needs a decisive resolution for us to move forward with peace and faith. Some hurts take time to heal. Some issues need long-term work. Some questions can’t be answered this side of eternity.
But I do believe there’s a difference between giving something time and stuffing it down a hole to be shunned.
I recently went through my own spiritual “frost heave” that turned up some years-old issues. Some pieces of my past I wish were different—or simply not there—got called back to my attention, causing some pain, frustration, and bewilderment.
I’d previously processed these issues up to a point. Then I’d buried them, assuming, I suppose, that being able to ignore them meant the process was over. Time, I reasoned, could do the rest—as long as I didn’t have to lay eyes on them for a while.
And now, after a while, I was looking at them again. And doing so hurt almost as much as it had a while ago.
What was I missing?
When it comes to working through issues or processing difficult experiences, some steps are fairly clear (though not easy): You forgive whatever needs forgiving. You repent of whatever needs repenting of. You learn as much as you can. You thank God for the good things.
I’d taken these steps. Yet I felt I was still missing something crucial for long-term peace and freedom.
Once you’ve forgiven and been forgiven, learned and grown from your trials, identified and offered praise for hidden blessings—what do you do with the leftovers? The stuff that can’t and won’t stay buried, yet is still undeniably not what you wanted in your life?
Do you hold on to the parts of your life you can handle, and toss the rest into a separate pile? Do you live your life hoping there’s a trash bin for such things outside Heaven’s door?
I don’t think so.
The Bible promises over and over that God will remove our confessed guilt, comfort our sorrow, and heal our wounds. But He doesn’t change our pasts to erase our actions and experiences.
So how do we live with that?
The key is to look to Him. He holds the chaotic patchwork of our stories together, just as He does everything else. He knew everything about us and our lives before we were even born. What’s more, He goes through every moment with us, from beginning to end and beyond.
Nothing in our lives surprises Him. Nothing goes unaccounted for.
And He weaves it all together with a purpose. A good, God-glorifying, soul-enriching purpose that no evil can thwart and for which every aspect of our lives can be redeemed and used.
Every. Single. One.
And that’s what He wants us to present to Him. Unsorted. Unburied.
Because He is the one who can deal with the things we can’t. And who can enable us to live with it.
So I let my unearthed issues sit in His light. I looked at the motley patchwork of my past and sought a uniting thread. Something that would hold it all together in one God-glorifying piece.
And I found one. Sometimes hard to see, but always seeable:
He loves you, you know.
Every good thing in my life—whether or not it’s still here in the present. Every bad thing He’s gotten me through—sin forgiven, sorrow comforted, hurt healed, question answered (or simply listened to with wise, loving, patient ears).
All proof. Same message. Over and over.
I won’t bury that.
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 (CSB)
NOTE: While God always wants us to take all our problems to Him, sometimes He also uses other people to help us sort through them. If you are struggling with something to the point it is affecting your well-being, please consider reaching out to a professional counselor. There is no shame in seeking help when you need it.