Monday, July 21, 2008

God Never Wastes a Hurt

Hurts come in all kinds of packages. There is the pain of grief, sorrow, and deep sadness. There is also the hurt left by poor decisions, regret and consequences to sin. Some times it is self-inflicted and other times it is the result of the actions of others...those “ripple” effects. And yes, whatever hurt we are experiencing is allowed by God. If He wasn’t okay with us having it, we wouldn’t be. That is His divine intervention.

Today I am in the midst of a deep, private sadness between God and me. I am sad and confused. The Christian walk is not about doing all the right things so that life will constantly be cheery. We all know that. But the fact is, we are all a little stunned and taken aback when that reality shows its face in our world once again.

I am not angry...upset even, just sad. God is saying “no” to some things that I desperately desire and I don’t know why (as they are godly). The hurt is real and it is deep. He is also allowing a sad confusion of another sort and I am feeling a tad “lost” in the process.

There are a lot of bible scriptures that I could put up right now: Verses that bring comfort or remind me of God’s faithful, loving-kindness toward us. What I am clinging to right now is the culmination of all those verses and the whole of the story. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” John 3:16. That story and all that it means.

I trust God with the outcome of my life. I trust Him with my journey. The truth of my pain does not change, nor does it alter, the depth of my belief in Him. But it is important to acknowledge the hurt and not feel weakened by it. I am not weaker in my faith because I am sad and confused. God is not weaker in my eyes because I have been allowed this ache. Life is sweet, but also unpleasant. Hurt is a reality here until I step foot in my eternal home.

I am so perfectly imperfect that it drives me crazy!

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me” 1 Corinthians 15:10.

Grace is about more than salvation. Grace is active, real and alive for me today...and every day. Grace is my path to the joys and it is my life ring during the hurts. Grace is the ongoing, unearned gift from my heavenly Father that loved me so much that He allowed His Son to suffer and die on account of me. Grace is the reality that the Son was hurt on my behalf willingly, knowing that I wouldn’t understand it all. Grace helps me recognize the hurt I am allowed to experience as the gift that it is.

God never wastes a hurt. Each one has purpose...for my life and for those lives touching mine. The “ripples” from my pain are felt by others.

God desires glory and honor. Out of each hurt there is an incredible amount of glory and honor waiting to be attributed to God. My response to the hurt is incredibly important. I can choose to sulk and feel sorry for myself or I can choose joy: Another opportunity to “learn to be content”. Can I be joyfully content in the midst of sadness and confusion? Is that even possible? Or would it be a fake fasad?

Isn’t this where “the rubber meets the road” in terms of living out our faith? I can believe a lot of things when life is easy and I am getting what I want. But that is not being content in all things. Not until the “all” includes the difficult. When the difficult happens, when the struggle is on, that is when “real” contentment is sought.

The biblical definition for the word content in the New Testament is “satisfied”. If I cannot be satisfied with where God is taking me by allowing pain and sorrow, do I really trust Him as Sovereign Ruler over my life? To trust Him with me is to be satisfied that each day is what it is for my good and for God’s glory and all filtered by His Sovereign hand. This hand is loving, but it is also mighty and some times, some things are going to be allowed that hurt. In fact, many times.

It is my choice to be satisfied with whatever He allows: Satisfied and also grateful. The experience may not be of my choosing, but the reaction to it all is up to me. I don’t have to muster up the strength on my own accord. This is where that grace comes in again. “He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God, the God who girds me with strength” Psalm 18:30b-32a. It is my choice to choose to ask Him for the strength to joyfully and contentedly walk the journey of pain laid before me. It is going to be there regardless. I’d sure rather walk it out with Him, wouldn’t you?

One of my greatest fears is that I will disappoint God. I am imperfect and I am fleshly. I am growing, yet I am still so immature. I have come a long way, by His grace, but I still have so many areas needing to be worked on. Thus, the hurt I am being allowed now I suppose. I want to grow. I ask God often to grow me. I guess that I am getting what I have asked for. :) It’s just in a different package than I thought it would come in. Imagine that? “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord” Isaiah 55:8.

So if God never wastes a hurt, could I? If every hurt I experience is allowed for His glory and for my good He cannot (will not) waste one. But I could! I could waste the journey through the hurt by my response towards it. Will I choose to be satisfied and rejoice even in the journey He has asked me to walk? Will I choose to trust Him with the process as well as the outcome? If I do, the hurt will not have been wasted by either of us and would bring Him the most glory and me the most good. If I don’t, the hurt could suffocate me and cause harm, let alone be wasted.

So again, it’s my choice. But I’m not on my own in the process. I never am. His active, ever ready grace is already poured out for me. The direction I choose to walk decides whether or not it falls on me or is wasted.

God never wastes a hurt so I don’t want to either.

Father, use this pain to bring me closer to you. Grow me through this hurt to be more like Christ. With the help of your strength and your grace—which is the only way I have victory—I request that you peel away more of my flesh, more of this “self” that binds me. May the ripple effects of this journey bring you glory and honor and may others be strengthened in their own relationship to you because of my obedience. Teach me to be content as I learn to be satisfied in all things. As I rejoice over this walk, I ask that my joy be genuine. I desire to be right with you and honest with others in this endeavor. I hurt. I am sad. I am confused. I feel a little lost right now. Thank you, Father, that my feelings, these emotions are not all reality. I am not lost when I walk with you. I may be confused, but I hold the hand of the one that designed these days I journey on and all You see is clarity. I ache, yes, but I hope in the truth that this will not last forever and as long as I trust You with me I will see victory. Thank you, God, that this hurt will not be wasted. I ask that you will be glorified mightily because of it. Amen!