As some of you already know, this last year and a half has been very difficult on my family and I. In the beginning of this year I suffered from a traumatic brain injury that was so difficult and distressing that I have begun to see a trauma counselor to help me process and heal. I find myself not who I once was and struggling with where I go from here. My whole identity is found in the gospel yet the core of my person, down to my faith, was shaken and I find myself moving through the aftermath of this storm, brushing the dust off my broken spirit and wounded heart. ..wondering what I will be once Jesus lifts me out of the torrent and waves.
We all love the victories, but sometimes it’s in the ashes where God does His most beautiful work. In God’s design, destruction and death can bring about a beauty that victory can not. It is beyond our understanding and often we must wait for Him to do the work of transforming and healing what often seems beyond repair.
It is difficult to watch and to experience when God moves in ways that take our breath away, when He says no to our prayers, when He permits the chaos to roll over us like fierce waves, when we feel very deeply the pain of the fall. When suffering enters in and stays a while…
To be on the receiving end of these moments, changes us.
Yet, I can feel the Lord doing something, as if darkly…I know I am different…He has called me to move forward in faith in spite of not knowing what He is doing in me. To move forward in the darkness, without control or knowledge of where I am going. To trust Him to heal what has been broken by sin. But unlike all the other trials where I felt or saw the victory, this time He just calls me remember to “be still and know that I am God”
I thought a lot about what I could offer in this post. What does a broken person have to offer? But as I wrote this, I realized the answer is hope. Because as much as I am broken, I can sense He is moving…rebuilding…transforming. And I am realizing that it is ok to be broken. How else does wholeness come if not through brokenness. It is through the suffering that we find one of God’s most beautiful treasures – hope.
I have learned in my life there exist sisters in our experiences…suffering and hope, brokenness and faith, fear and courage, wisdom and pain, they seem to hold hands as we go through trials. They seem to walk together each teaching their lesson as they walk. Each leaving their mark upon us.
I have also learned that God is in the pain…He is present in the messy, the doubting and the weary do not offend Him. He does not sit as Job’s accusers but rather sits down and eats with the hurting and the forgotten. He seeks out the sad and the confused. He draws back the prodigal. He gets down deep in those trenches right with us. As Micah 7:8 testifies “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me” – our pain is not our end, for Christ is with us lighting our way through the darkness.
Psalm 18:11 says “He made darkness His hiding place, and storm clouds a canopy around Him.” It is in the darkness and storms, when we feel the most alone and where we wonder if God has forgotten or abandoned us that I believe He is the most present. As if the darkness shrouds His presence so we don’t see that He is walking right alongside us, covering our eyes as He did Moses so we can’t behold His glory…not realizing that it is His hand that is upon us. His darkness overcomes us until the end of the storm when we can see the sun again or sense His presence again…when we can breathe again. Until that time, He lifts us on His shoulders, keeping us from the drowning we fear is happening. Saying to our spirits “As you pass through deep water, I with you”
Being a Christian is hard sometimes but the purpose of our faith is not our glory nor our ease…it’s our rescue. The Gospel is about God making whole people who are terribly broken. It’s about God’s rescue and redemption of people beyond repair, torn apart by sin and unable to help themselves. It’s about a God who walks with us in our darkness, through the storms and the fire, refining and transforming, purging and renewing so that we will be beautiful in our time.
When you are a believer, pain and suffering is never the end of your story…often it is the beginning of something bigger than what you are suffering. Pain is always redeemed, always used, never wasted. In Jesus nothing is ever lost…not one moment. Even our tears are held by God, showing that our pain truly matters to Him.
As I close I realize some of you may be privately drowning…fighting a real desperate war of faith. If not now, you will be. I want you to know that as I testify of a faithful God in spite of my messy faith, that as much as the Lord has not left me, He has not and will not leave you. In your darkest hour is when He fights the hardest for you…holding His stance, prepping for war. Lifting you above those fierce waves. Shrouding you from the battle He is waging on your behalf …sometimes allowing only glimpses of His work…like an echo. All the while whispering in your ears “I will never leave you or forsake you” a promise that He died to fulfill.
To my sweet broken sisters, born for suffering so that the Lord’s glory will be demonstrated by your scars, you are never forgotten. He is present in the darkness, right beside you. Speaking hope to your heart and mercy over your sins. And to those of you called to minister to the broken and weary, serve God well in your abundance. Let the blessing of your life extend richly to those who are suffering. Hold up the arms of the weary for you have been given your abundance to do so as the scripture says “To whom much is given much is required”. So Allow the blessings of your abundance and the ease afforded you overflow to those who desperately need it. Pass your cup, if need be even empty it to fill another’s. This is the purpose and rich beauty of fellowship done well.
If you don’t know Jesus I would love to talk to you more about the one who heals the broken and rescues the sinner. There is no sin, confusion or doubt too great to bring to the cross. God beckons you to come and be forgiven.
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” John 7:37