My personality lends itself to being high and low. I have to work very hard at being steady. Some days I am better at this than others. So, you can imagine how living with an emotional hole in my heart can make things extra difficult. I recently read something from a woman whose daughter passed away and she said, “I gave a part of my heart to my daughter that she took with her when she died, and I won’t get that back this side of heaven.” That reality resonates very much with me. So, what am I to do?
The truth is, God gives and takes away. If you don’t believe me, just ask Job. But, if we were honest, we just want God to give, don’t we? We don’t want Him to take and we certainly don’t want Him to take away the things or the people we love. This life is hard…very hard…but God is most concerned about conforming His children into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.
So, today, I’ve been struggling, and as I am, I look to the Cross and am reminded that the Cross is the ultimate example of God’s ability to work all things together for good, even the most wicked deed ever conceived. Though those who put Jesus on the Cross meant to do evil to against Him, God used it for good, in order to bring many to Himself. Truly, in death, there is life.
I’m reminded of this: if God would require such intense suffering of His own Son, whom He loved, to accomplish a holy purpose, He surely has a purpose for your pain and mine. And perhaps part of that purpose is to learn obedience from what we suffer.
Why has God allowed so much suffering in your life and mine? Well, ultimately the purpose is not to disfigure us for life, but to mold us into the people who thinks, acts, and looks like Jesus Christ…and oh how that process of molding can hurt. But again why? So that you and I can display the glory of God by living as a reflection of His Son!
Remember when the disciples asked Jesus, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” The blind man’s suffering was allowed because that is how God would get most glory from his life.
Now, we can either shun suffering or embrace it. I’ve done both, and I can assure you, shunning it only adds to the pain. However, when we embrace it, something happens in our hearts…there’s an intimacy with God, a freedom in submission, a peace in the pain, and even at times, a joy in the journey. As Nancy Guthrie says, “Trusting God when the miracle does not come, when the urgent prayer gets no answer, when there is only darkness—this is the kind of faith God values perhaps most of all. This is the kind of faith that can only be developed and displayed in the midst of difficult circumstances. This is the kind of faith that cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken.”
Today, in faith, I’m crying out to God: “Father, would You please accomplish Your will? Would you give me a willing heart to embrace Your plan and purpose? Would You mold me into a vessel that You can use to accomplish what You have in mind?” Oh that I would truly mean that prayer because I know that’s what I need…I know that’s what is right.
The truth is, I have come to know God more fully because I’ve experienced Him more fully in my sorrow. Lord, help me believe and embrace Your will for my life.
Have you seen the movie, Jackie? Close to the end of the movie, Jacqueline Kennedy discussed with a Roman Catholic priest on subjects like suffering, death and the meaning of life. I found the exchange painful because it describes my experience quite well.