When I was twenty, my future, what had at once seemed certain, was flipped on its head - the rug was pulled out from under me, within a matter of minutes. I was left defeated and broken, questioning whether or not I was worthy of love again. The days seemed dark, and the valley never seemed as deep as it was until that point. I knew my Jesus had a purpose and that He was kind in all of His dealings, but I wrestled with my faith in a way that I never had until then and an end did not seem to be in sight anytime soon. I remember praying, “I’m just physically, so tired, of being sad, Lord, I know that you are good, but I don’t know what to do. I am at the end of myself”. I found myself on my knees, in a season of begging God to heal me when it was not possible for me to heal myself.
We are often accustomed to learning to be content in the times where life seems mundane – it seems too often be during the times where we hope for the next “big thing” so that we are taught steadfastness, endurance, and His sufficiency. Our faith grows more sure and we learn that there is joy and that we truly never are in lack and that He timing is perfect. But sometimes, we need to be broken and pruned, uprooted, and down on our knees when things have been taken, to learn that same thing. That not only are we taught steadfastness, endurance, and His sufficiency, but also to learn that even in the most arduous and emptiest situations, that trusting Christ is far more sure, and far more sweet than ever or what it could have been before.
If anything, I have seen that in both situations, that He works through what He wills and in the time that He sees fit. And for my story, what He saw fit, was to heal me on His own timeframe.
When your heart is broken and your soul feels wrecked, so often it is a battle against what you know as truth and what you are feeling. You are left with questions that seem too often left unanswered. Questions like: “How is God still good?” even though you know He always is. “Why is this happening?” even though you know that Romans 8:28 says that “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. We question, “is it possible to still have my faith – why am I struggling with this?” even though we know that He will never leave (Deuteronomy 31:6) or let his own be snatched from His hand (John 10:28). You might even find yourself wrestling, wondering why you are struggling so much with the truths that you have held so tightly. And that is ok. But friends, if faith were easy, it would not be called faith.
Here’s the thing: God is far more capable of answering the hard questions, the frustrated, broken prayers than our minds can fathom. He has a reason, an answer, and a purpose behind everything that He does and allows into our lives. We so often forget that God delights in giving His children wisdom and peace (James 1:5), and that we are not a burden to Him. He cares for the sparrows, every tiny little creature, and in the midst of aching, we so often forget how deeply He cares for us, too (Matthew 6:25-34 +1 Peter 5:7).
In the midst of heartache and trials, long-suffering is one of the most challenging things. I think for us; we are often wondering if it is possible to endure it. But the thing about learning to be content is continuing not only to be content in the mundane but also content in waiting on Him during times that are the most trying: when our joy is weak and our hearts ache. Although we might now have the answers, it is so important to know contentment in pain’s midst, understanding that He WILL heal in the time He sees fit; and that this is how we grow. He is asking us to trust that there is purpose, even when it seems like there is none; because our God is a God who is always purposeful – everything that He does is with care and without mistake. He sees us in our joy, and he sees us and draws near in our sorrow. He never leaves – His arms are wide open asking us to rest in His presence. He works through brokenness: not only on our own faith but also for the good of others, usually as a testimony that encourages others who walk similar paths.
We are being molded.
We are being asked to surrender to the Potter whose end and plan is far more beautiful than what we can imagine.
We are being asked to surrender to the pain that is temporary so that we can bring Him glory while we are here and because there will be no pain once we are with Him.
We are being asked to endure as He shapes - as He presses and twists and maybe even crushes our hearts – so we know and hope in Him with a confidence that He will always complete the work that He began (Philippians 1:6), knowing that at the end, we will be presented blameless and pure, perfect and complete, not lacking any good thing (James 1:4).
Dear friends, realize this: that truly you are never lacking a good thing, even in the midst of the sorrow. We need to pray like David who says, “Keep me safe, My God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you, I have no good thing” (Psalm 16:1-2).
We are walking through the fire now, and while it is painful being refined, we can see that it is ultimately Him who holds us fast and Him who is walking through the flames with us. He wants what is best for His children and only has the best in store. We can pray like Job, who says, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust in him” (Job 13:15).
Sometimes our edges need refining, our souls need stripping, and our hearts need to be cut open so that our hands remain open, our faith remains pure, and our love for Him is made more sure. We can trust that through everything and all things, the happier days are to come, that our hearts will be healed and made anew.
Charles Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers of all time wrote:
“O child of suffering, be thou patient; God has not passed thee over in his providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows, will also furnish you with what you need. Sit not down in despair; hope on, hope ever. Take up the arms of faith against a sea of trouble, and your opposition shall yet end your distresses. There is One who careth for you. His eye is fixed on you, his heart beats with pity for your woe, and his hand omnipotent shall yet bring you the needed help. The darkest cloud shall scatter itself in showers of mercy. The blackest gloom shall give place to the morning. He, if thou art one of his family, will bind up thy wounds, and heal thy broken heart. Doubt not his grace because of thy tribulation, but believe that he loveth thee as much in seasons of trouble as in times of happiness. What a serene and quiet life might you lead if you would leave providing to the God of providence! With a little oil in the cruse, and a handful of meal in the barrel, Elijah outlived the famine, and you will do the same. If God cares for you, why need you care too? Can you trust him for your soul, and not for your body? He has never refused to bear your burdens, he has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! have done with fretful care, and leave all thy concerns in the hand of a gracious God”.