I have been thinking about pain & struggles a lot recently. I see wonderful healing all around me almost daily ---- physical, spiritual, relational.... but I also see and have seen terrible pain & heartache and loss. This earth is really full of horrible things. Sometimes it's a direct result of our own sin. Sometimes it's just the result of living in a world that is run by satan. A fallen world that is full of sin and destruction. We are in the territory of the thief who comes to seek & destroy.
For a long time I've been trying to figure out the "formula" and logic for why things happen at certain times. Why some are healed why some are not. Trying to understand why healings are always done in different ways, times. The impact of prayer. Why God allows things to happen. How to heal. What power I have if any in all of this...
So as you can imagine my heart & mind are just full. Dwelling on all this for too long gets me frustrated & burnt out.
But there are some things I do know: I absolutely believe that only good can come from God. He is only good. He is loving and all good things come from Him. He can't DO bad but He can allow it to happen. My post I did on free will & His sovereignty touched on this...
but as I sat crying because I was at the end of my rope thinking about all this.... and crying over some past experiences with pain and illness and cruelty last night..... God did plant some seeds in my heart that turned on my tear faucet stronger than it's flowed in a long time. I went to bed knowing 2 things...
a) that God has His reasons for allowing things to happen or not
b) I'm not God.
I have to let Him be God. I can not put Him in a box that says if we do xyz, He will always do xyz. He can't be described with logic, formulas or any other earthly reasoning. If we even begin to understand something --- then it's not God. and I realized I had to be okay with that. So I released Him again last night out of the boxes I was trying to put Him in.
this morning as I sat journaling to Him.... I asked Him if I couldn't have ALL the reasons and understanding as to why He allows pain & struggle then could He please give me an example of ONE reason. I opened my Bible and flipped open to my reading for the day. John 9 and verse 3 was like woah.... go read it.... I thought, thank you God. There was one reason right there! It made me cry - God was talking to ME. I was so undeserving of His attention and His love but He gave it.
That seed He spoke into me was good enough for me for toady. I could have stopped there. I was okay with knowing that SOME of the time He allows pain to show the work of God in people's life. I get that. So SOME of the times He allows pain for His glory to be revealed right then or shortly after. I really believe He can be glorified when people have endured pain and then are healed --- which is what I believe this verse was referring to - because Jesus healed that man. I understand that during pain, God's glory can be revealed when healing takes place - healing that could ONLY come from God.
I also get that during pain or struggle, God's glory can be revealed when the heavy burden is NOT lifted --- but the person is strengthened. When the person still clings to God and praises Him despite their situation. That sort of unexplainable strength and comfort despite all our surroundings that tell us opposite - could ONLY be from God.
So that was enough for me --- but when we ask for something God always gives more than what we expect right?!?! Because then hubby came into the room and said, "Randi this is what I'm trying to memorize for mentoring men on saturday - can you listen to them while I read it?" Can you guess what the verses were about!??!?! Look at this! This is what he read to me:
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a]have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Woah. Suffering produces perserverance. Perserverance produces character. Character produces hope. Hope never disappoints.
So as you can imagine, I was balling. I just kept saying - I hear you God. I get it. There ARE reasons. You are a loving God and you are in control and you do allow bad to happen but you can use the bad - for our good!
So you'd think that He had poured into me enough. He was talking directly to me all morning. I was so full of joy and thankfulness. Not that I had all the answers --- but that I trusted again that HE did and He reassured me He did. He gave me LITTLE glimpses into why bad things do happen. Just to reassure me that there are reasons for things and that He sees the big picture, which I can't see.
Sooo really I was so joyful and at peace. I was thanking Him for giving me some reminders. But then I got an email..... and guess what IT was about!??!! YES the same thing!! Check this out:
All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. Sometimes we go through struggle to increase our empathy for others. So that we can relate to others. So that we can encourage others. So that we can comfort others. I have gone through this many times. God allows us to cross paths with those who have simliar struggles to link arms and walk together. So there was yet another good that could come out of bad!!!
So thank you God for helping me understand some ways that bad could be used for good!
but there was one more thing on my heart this morning. I realized I could accept that God really could use bad experiences for His own glory and for the good of His followers (Romans 8:28).....
but the thing I have the hardest time with is when these horrible things happen to people who don't know Him. Who already don't have a lot of trust or faith in Him. There was one situation in particular that I have had a hard time with since it happened when I was in 4th grade. It was this situation that brought the most tears to me last night. It was the heartache I felt for the family that I grew up with that was literally close as brothers/sisters to us. The boy of their family died when I was in 4th grade. He was a year older than me. I think about them a lot. They still do mean a lot to us though the years have drifted us apart geographically. I didn't realize how much frustration I had over this situation.
In my journal this morning I wrote: God they didn't believe. Why them? I can understand how you could allow things to happen to those who trust you and have faith in you and will allow you to be glorified. But what about families like this one God. What can I say to them? Should I reach out to them? What are they thinking now? Why didn't you heal him? Wouldn't they have believed in you then and they would have run to you? Are they angry with you? Have they ever come to you or do they want nothing to do with you?
So the day went on.... we went to a friends house. I called my mom and this is how our conversation went:
Mama: can you believe it Randi I'm still in my pajamas.
Randi: wow mama that is not like you at all.
M: believe it or not I was on the phone with ____ for over an hour this morning.
This is the mom of the little boy I just wrote about. My "aunt"!!!!
R: **mouth drops to floor almost had to pull over as instant tears came. I knew that God was about to talk directly to me again** No way mom. You are not kidding are you!? You haven't talked to her in months and haven't talked that long on the phone in years.
M: Yeah I'm not kidding. I just got off with her. Why are you crying? We had a great conversation.
R: I'm crying because I literally JUST journaled about them this morning. I told my mom everything I had been talking with Brandon about last night. and journaling about this morning. What did you all talk about??
M: wow it seems you've had a lot on your heart.... well wait until you hear this then. I think God wants me to tell you what she said. She said to me, "ya know people ask me all the time if I'm angry at God for taking ___ from us. Although I am pretty sure I was angry with Him for a long time and that I even turned from Him. I absolutely know now that God cried with me in that hospital. I absolutely know He was heartbroken with me. As I sat crying and hugging my baby boy those last minutes.... I felt God hugging us. He was there and He held us up. I'm not mad at Him. I love Him. crap happens."
so at this point I had just lost it. I was out right balling like a baby. I really believed that this entire family had given up on Him. Oh my lack of faith...... but the last deep conversations I had had with them - were not positive faithful conversations. I didn't understand why God would allow such a tragedy to happen to people who didn't know Him that close yet. I wanted to play God in this situation. I really felt I knew what was best for this situation. In my mind, he would have been healed. All glory and praise would have gone to God. We all would have witnessed a miracle and I felt it would be the thing to turn this family all to Him. but instead.... because of this situation...she is closer to Him now. Yes the kids are still struggling. Yes the devil is still trying to get into their hearts & minds. but God reassured me that God was God that the Spirit is the Spirit and I am neither. Just because things don't happen how *I* thought God would do them - doesn't mean God had left the situation.
I don't know all the lessons I am supposed to learn right now from all of this.
but I have had such huge revelations in the past 12 hours though. He has reminded me that:
a) I'm not God. He is God
b) because I'm not God there is much I do not understand. There is much I don't see. I will never see the big picture like He does.
c) He is listening to me. He cares. He knows when I'm at my breaking point and need to hear from Him. He was right here for me today and gave Himself abundantly to me to reassure me.
d) there are reasons for why things happen
e) there is no way to absolutely describe Him, predict Him or explain Him
f) it's not my job to.
g) I'm not here to get Him to do MY will. I am here to do His.
h) the Holy Spirit is who reaches to people and nudges them. I don't have to worry. If I'm supposed to be used to reach to somebody - He will use me and He will give me the words to say