The Opposite of Crushing


It was powerful. It was raw. And it ‘bout knocked me off my chair. Right there in the conference hall, I watched their stories unfold and echo around the chambers of my own weary heart. They were right there, telling their stories of brokenness, sin, and tragedy.

A woman, single and barren, despised by her own mother.

A couple broken by pornography and sin.

A woman devastated by an affair.

A woman shattered by the news of her husband’s death at the hands of terrorists.

But these weren’t the messages they were there to share. It was only the beginning. It was the crushing that captured our attention, but it was the opposite that kept us glued to the sound of their unfolding testimonies.

They were there to share with a roomful of sisters that the God who is the greatest of Authors, wasn’t finished writing their story just because there was the presence of an exhale. You know, the kind of whooshing that happens when the wind gets knocked out of you? Yes, that kind.

The devastating news, the broken heart, the shattered life are actually canvases on which God often works the most profound beauty.

Think about the cross. There is nothing more crushing, more awful, ugly, unjust, or broken than His body hanging on that cross. I can hardly watch the movie, “The Passion,” because the brutality of what Jesus went through literally doubles me over.

I can’t watch, but I do. I watch, not for the beating and cruelty, but for the moment when I can finally take a deep breath. And as He is resurrected, I am resurrected, too. My chest expands under the crushing and my eyes and heart respond to the good work that was rent on the brutality of that cross.

It is no secret that this past year has probably been one of the most wretched years of my life. Truly. I have walked with my momma through a cancer and a treatment that were equally trying to kill her. My husband and I walked through the loneliest and most painful season in ministry, and my own health has been absurdly challenging, at best.

Yet, with all the hard, with all the painful, I have sensed a grander purpose He has in mind…on the other side of this mountain. On the other side of this mountain, this climbing, this trudging, this hoping, extending, crawling, scraping.

And what has felt like crushing, has actually become an expanding.

On a particularly hard day, when the circumstances of this past year caught up with me and my energy to just breathe felt like it was giving out, the small speaker on my phone began to whisper the melody of this song. This gentle plunking, one deliberate note at a time, a message I was desperate to hear.

And the words sang softly,

“He’s giving you your breath back…”

“He’s giving you your breath back…”

And as the song continued, soft and poignant, she began to speak of the intimacy of God, particularly in those squeezed and hard spaces of life. You know, the ones you find yourself into but not always out of? Yes, those places.

She spoke of the kindness and closeness of God, not just on the mountaintops, but in the darkest valleys. The God who breathed those first breaths into our lungs is the same God who sits with us in the middle of our breakdowns and places in our lives that just feel so weary and broken and crushed…and He meets us there.

Miraculously, out of a love we cannot begin to fathom, He breathes life back into us again. Over and over again.

And what felt like crushing transforms into expanding.

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

John 12:24

This song, this revelation, this Truth just blew the ceiling off of my perspective and my pain. It is my hope that it will shed some light on your dark spaces, too. He really is big enough, loving enough, kind enough, good enough – in all things, at all times. He is.

Sweet sisters, you were never meant to stay or finish in those hard spaces. But through them, He is doing a new thing…and it is leaving the crushing behind for His grander glory.

“Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? For I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

Isaiah 43:18-19

The women I spoke of at the conference–remember how I mentioned that their message didn’t end with crushing? It didn’t. Praise be to God!

She who was single and barren has birthed more than 300,000 souls into the Kingdom.

A couple broken by pornography and sin is now restored, wholeheartedly following Christ and speaking powerfully into the lives of other families who are facing the same brokenness.

A woman devastated by an affair is breaking through her own sense of unworthiness to touch countless college students’ lives with the power and sufficiency of Christ.

A woman shattered by the news of her husband’s death, at the hands of terrorists, is speaking to thousands about forgiveness and restoration on the other side of tragedy and profound loss.

Kingdom work. Harvest work. His Kingdom expanding. His goodness can never be silenced by the sin that is desperate to do so. He will roar and rend the heavens before He will cease to be faithful.

He is good. No. Matter. What.

And yes, He is giving me my breath back, too. I feel it. And it is truly good. For His Kingdom and glory. I can see it now. I am beyond grateful for all of it.

Every hard and broken space, every kernel of my heart that has had to die in order to really live. All of it. The breaking. The dying. The crushing. The expanding. Yes, I am grateful for all of it now. For now, finally now, I see Him working it all together for good, for better than good…for grand.

And that’s ok with me.

It should be no surprise that the song I want to share with you today is the one I spoke of earlier from Amanda Cook and Bethel Music, entitled, “Our Breath Back.” Listen closely, dear ones, and may He breathe back into you a hope and a joy that reaches beyond the current hard that’s in your life.

My prayer is that you would take a deep breath of His faithfulness and catch a glimpse of His love for you…right on past the crushing and into His expanding.

With joy for the journey,