This post has been rolling around in my heart for weeks now. I’ve sensed God using it to work something out in my heart, but I haven’t really understood exactly what He was doing. I still don’t know all, but I wanted to share some of what He’s shown me, stepping out in faith that someone else here may be struggling to understand a situation, and maybe. . .just maybe, this will speak to their heart as well.
At the end of February, I attended a Ladies’ Gathering in Atlanta, Georgia. I posted a bit about the main speakers and their messages. Overall, it was an awesome time, everyone I listened to had some great insight or wisdom, and I went away blessed. The one thing I didn’t post about at the time was the one statement that probably impacted me most over the whole weekend.
I attended a songwriting workshop, led by singer and songwriter, Shannon Wexelberg. She is a sweet, authentic young woman who inspires just by her personal story. During her workshop, she shared a testimony about a very difficult time in her life. She conceived a baby after many years of infertility, only to lose the child in an early miscarriage. She was naturally devastated, and for the first time in her life, she was angry with God. As she attempted to work through her emotions during that dark time, God spoke to her. He said simply, “If the cross is all I ever did for you, isn’t it enough?” She shared that she was humbled by that statement, and it led her back to a place of faith.
As I sat there in her workshop, that simple statement hit me like a sucker punch to the stomach. During that busy weekend, I thought about it numerous times, but didn’t really have time to process what God was trying to work in me.
As I began to ponder exactly what that meant, I felt a transformation begin to occur in my heart. One of my biggest struggles has been understanding why God allows bad things to happen to His people. I don’t mean things like cars breaking down or large home repairs, I mean the big stuff like miscarriages, terminal or debilitating illness, and the deaths of children.
I know life happens to everyone, but something inside me has always felt like God should protect His children from the biggies. . .and that’s the place in my thought process where I froze. GOD SHOULD. My mind went back to the book of Job. If ever anyone had reason to resent God, Job did. God may not have caused his calamity, but He gave Satan permission to cause him pain. He lost everything-his children, his wealth, his health-and was left with the worst friends I’ve ever encountered as his comforters. They advised him to curse God and die, told him the whole thing was probably his fault somehow, and were just generally unhelpful (all except the one).
When all was said and done, did God apologize to Job for not protecting him and give him a “aww, poor Job” hug or pat on the back? Nope. Here are some of the words in God’s response to Job’s questioning that most speak to me: (found in Job 38)
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements–surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?”
My first reaction to this verse? Ouch. God just asked Job, “Who are you to presume to understand My ways, or to think you’re ‘entitled’ to my protection?” That is a question that would make me want to run and hide in shame. The good news? God doesn’t stop there. He doesn’t leave us pounded into dust, wondering why we’re still alive-even Job’s story doesn’t stop there. We have a promise that gives us purpose, “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good. . .”(Romans 8:28) ALL things-even the really horrible ones.
This brings me back to what’s really been bouncing around in my heart. Why do I feel entitled to certain things as a child of God? Does He really owe me anything? I have found myself angry with Him because He didn’t do what I expected Him to do. He didn’t make it “all better.” He doesn’t intervene every time I go through a rough time, at least not in a tangible way. I think sometimes He eases the suffering behind the scenes, but I’m so wrapped up in my own agony, I miss it. The bottom line is, He fulfilled his promise to me on the cross. He took the punishment once and for all time for every sin I’ve ever committed, whether I meant to or not. He gave me the gift of eternal life when I’d done nothing to deserve it. If the cross is all He ever does for me, isn’t it enough?
It should be, but my human heart is so afraid of pain. The truth is, the pain that I’ve suffered throughout my life has made me who I am today. Without pain, we fail to learn compassion. Without trials, we fail to learn how to persevere, and according to Romans 5:4, perseverance produces character and character, hope. Without the bad, painful parts of life, we would never learn to hope, or to appreciate the times when our joy is unspeakable and overwhelming. Would we truly appreciate springtime if we never experienced a winter? The joy I feel at welcoming my next child will be expanded by the loss I felt at losing the last one. I am not grateful for the loss, but I am grateful that my God saw me through, never let go of me, and has the power to bring beauty from my ashes. The character of God is good at all times. It doesn’t change depending on my circumstances.
In the midst of all this heart remodeling, I found a song that I’ve learned has been out for a few years. I’ve never heard it till now. It’s called “Bring the Rain” by Mercy Me. I can’t listen to it without weeping because my faith is so challenged. The trust required to say “Jesus, bring the rain” is beyond where I am today, but I believe I’m getting there. There’s still a part of me that’s afraid to completely bare my tender heart before Him. I know He loves me, but will He be as careful with my heart as I want Him to be? I know there’s a freedom in that level of trust, and I know I can get there, but there’s a part of me that doubts His goodness. It’s hard to see His goodness in the middle of pain. My head knows it’s there but my heart is still searching for it.
So I invite all my readers to ponder these truths. I’d love a lively dialogue on the topic, and I’m open to correction or challenge. It’s taken me weeks to muster the courage to post my thoughts, but I truly believe this is a step of faith in challenging myself to embrace the goodness of God. What are your thoughts?