When it Hurts like Hell…

Happy Ash Wednesday. 🙂 Chances are, at some point or another, you’ve seen someone walking around with a smudgied cross on their forehead on this day. While you might’ve confused them for a Mary Poppins chimney sweep extra in the grocery store, spoiler alert: it’s because of today. 😉 More than any sortof outward signal, it’s really meant to be a personal reminder of our humanity; as you’re receiving the mark on your head, you hear the words from Genesis 3:19: “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” 

A few weeks back, the priest said something so so good in his sermon that really just ~resonated~ with me. He said, “When it hurts like Hell…can you let it hurt like the cross?”

I mean, damn. Because right away, you know those feelings. You know those moments, and you know that pain and that hurt that really rocks us deep.

But the cross – but the cross. The cross is redemptive.

Any Believer could tell you that much.

There is purpose in the cross. There is power in the cross.

For as painful as it was in the moment, there was a much greater plan at play – and it changed, well, everything.

When it Hurts like Hell...on Coming Up Roses

I took this picture at the top of a hike in Barcelona, Spain where we stumbled upon a “random” cross.


For as much as Satan wanted a win, Jesus came to redeem – not condemn. But so often in our own painful moments, we can forget His greater plans at play for US. We forget that He didn’t intend for us to hurt, but He may allow hurt if it has the potential to make us holier – to bring us closer to Him and further down our own divinely ordained path to Heaven.

None of us will escape this life scar-free. We’ve all had our pasts – we have our struggles and pains. We’ll face inevitable hardships and heartaches to come, and we’ll be hurt along the way.

The devil loves nothing more than to twist what is true and destroy what is good, leaving us confused and discouraged.

So when it hurts, as it will, can we take the pain and use it for the good?

Please hear my heart (I know you do and will 🙂 ) when I say that this does NOT mean to ignore or invalidate what inevitably feels so awful – it’s not meant to diminish the pain or pretend like it’s not as sucky as it really, truly is. Rather, it’s meant to harness it. It’s meant to redirect it to fuel your future – to write message from your mess and to see glory in your story instead of letting bad things, bad people, bad timing or bad anything write a bad ending.

If Satan exists to twist what is good and right and true, to crush our spirits, take away our hope and send us spiraling away from the Father, our challenge becomes: can we turn it right back in his face for the glory of God instead?

When it hurts like Hell, can we let it be what plants us instead of what buries us? Can it be what strengthens us, instead of what stops us? 

A phoenix rises from ashes – and if you think about it, so does Jesus. 😉 The ashes symbolize our mortality and introduce us to His immortality, kicking off the road to Calvary on this 40-day Lenten journey. They’re meant to spur in us a sense of penitance, and a recognition of our need for reconciliation with the God who loves us enough to give His own son’s life so that we might live.

We always sing one of my favorite songs at church on Ash Wednesday – aptly named, Ashes. 😉 Even though I’ve sung it every year for, oh I dunno, two decades, some lines in particular feel especially fitting with this newer redemptive lense.

We rise again from ashes, to create ourselves anew. We are the main characters in our own lives. We have an active role (+ responsibility!) and constant opportunity to start over, try again, be better. What a gift.


We offer You our failures, we offer You attempts; 

the gifts not fully given, the dreams not fully dreamt. There is nothing that God can’t use for good. What we see is “failed,” He sees as future fruit. We just have to let Him plant the seeds in us.


Then rise again from ashes, let healing come to pain;

Though spring has turned to winter,

and sunshine turned to rain.

The rain we’ll use for growing,

and create the world anew,

from an offering of ashes,

and offering to You.” 

No rain, no flowers, right? 😉 There’s always another side to the story – another angle to the narrative if we’re willing to hear it. But it is – and always will be – our choice. We don’t have to see “the bright side” or look for something more.

We can definitely wallow. We can absolutely spiral. We’ve probably all #BeenThereDoneThat, too, right? We’ve let our pain and hurt get the best of us, and we’ve sat in sadness, bitterness, discouragement and resentment maybe more often than we’d like to admit (or, at least, hi it’s me).

But it’s my own goal to be reminded and encouraged by the Cross, this Lent especially. To remember our own redeption story, and to refuse to let hurt hold me back when it has the power to make me