Lately, I have been thinking a lot about a lot of things. I seem to lose my direction when I sit and think because one thing leads to another and I start rambling through my thoughts! It seems sort of scary to think what will happen if I start to put those rambling thoughts into print.
A teacher friend from Stewartsboro had a terrible wreck on July 2nd and is still unconcious. Another friend lost her cousin and some other family members in a bad wreck with the youngest of the passengers (age 10) being left to fight for her life. A third friend found out some devastating news about their unborn child. And yet another is sitting through some of the most trying visits to the hospital because her baby was born too soon. Since finding out these difficult things, I have been rolling over big issues of life in my head. I seem to not be able to understand any of them fully, but here are some things that I have learned through my own pain and the pain of hurting with others.
1. Suffering doesn't come from God.
So many times, we ask God why He lets things happen to us or happen to our friends and family. We live in a fallen world that is not as it was meant to be. God has been trying to redeem humanity since then and all of nature is groaning to get back to His perfection.
2. It is NOT okay to feel guilty that your amount of suffering may seem less intense than someone elses amount of suffering.
At church a couple of weeks ago, Pastor Scott asked us to raise our hands if we felt like we were suffering. Something told me I better raise my hand... so as uncomfortable as I was, I did it. I was so blessed by others as they put their hands on me and prayed. I was so thankful for the body of believers in that moment. But, as soon as the service was finished and we were heading home, Satan attacked. He started making me feel guilty for the way that I felt and I really had to fight him off! I was so down on myself.. I couldn't believe that I had the gall to raise my hand. I mean, who was I - I am not dying of cancer, I have not lost everything or everyone who loves me, I am not in constant pain, I just lost a little baby. A little piece of me that is better off if I don't bring it into this crazy world. I mean really, what more could a mother ask for? My babies, all three of them, did not suffer nor hurt with the pains of this life. They went straight from being protected and loved to the arms of the Father.. being protected and loved. So why do I feel like I am suffering? I don't know the answer to that question, but I know that in Matthew 5, one of the most famous sermons ever taught, Jesus says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
3. All things work together for God's good. (Romans 8:28)
I knew this verse, but now I am learning more and more about what it means. I am definitely not in a place to say that I am thankful to have had such feelings of loss in my life, but I am so thankful that somewhere down the line, sometime very soon, God will use these pains and hurts for His good. I know his plan is good (Jeremiah 29:11), even if I cannot see far enough to understand.
4. God calls us to community. (Hebrews 10:24)
Whatever life throws at us, we are not called to endure it alone. No where in the Bible does it say that you are not allowed to talk about your pain, or your mistakes, or your trials in life. After our first baby loss, I found that because we hadn't told anyone that we were pregnant yet and the first news that I got to give my family and friends was bad news, I felt very alone. I felt as though no one could possibly understand what was happening in my heart. I felt as though no one would understand that I just needed to stay in bed a few days because I couldn't face the world. I felt VERY ALONE. I even went though a period of time where I was angry with James, not because of anything that he did, but simply because we are different and he didn't appear to be sad any more. Silly right? Instead of talking to him about this, I began distancing myself from him emotionally and what did I get? MORE ALONE! Once I began to open up to others about what I was feeling and telling them the things that were really bothering me, the healing process truly began. When we live in isolation, we have no one to spur us on or build us up and we become easy targets for Satan's lies.
5. God allows us to have suffering because it is redemptive.
So many times I think there must be a better way to learn those important life lessons without experiencing the pain of suffering through life.
6. How I handle myself in the midst of suffering reveals my Spirit and who I belong to.
I keep reminding myself that God views death as a homecoming for His children- sometimes, we view it as the worst case scenario. Doesn't that make you long for the day He comes back and makes this all right? I remember when I was growing up, there was a man at my church who I never wanted to say the closing prayer because he would always end with, "Lord, come quickly." I thought that was terrible! I thought, why would we want him to do that? But, now... oh boy, how I seem to long for that day. God is sovereign over our suffering. What the enemy intends for evil, God will redeem for good! Someday, there will be a reward for faithfulness among suffering... that makes it just a little bit better, doesn't it? As the old saying goes, your just earning another jewel in your crown.
I don't know if this will mean anything to anyone except for me, but it sure feels good to finally get some of those thoughts into print. I am praying for peace. I am still trying to let these things be truth in my life. I am still trying to live with the daily knowledge that God is in control and He alone is directing my path. Please don't misinterpret my words. I DO NOT have it all figured out!
I praise you God for your goodness today. Thank you for promising to redeem me through the things that seem hardest in my life. Thank you for sharing your goodness and faithfulness through friends. Thank you for the recent conversations that I've had with others to spur me on and encourage me. I am so thankful that you are faithful when I am near faithless. I pray for all those in the midst of suffering now. Grant peace and patience as they feel as if the world around them may fall apart. May it be an opportunity for them to see you more clearly. I pray all of this in the most amazing power of your son, Amen.