Life is hard – do you agree? None of us can get through life unscathed. None of us have managed to make it through our middle school years, or high school and young adult years, our 20s and 30s and beyond- without a wound or two or 125. And many of these ouchies have left scars. Some of them gnarly and life-changing. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get cool scars, and have amazing life-changing experiences without hardship?
But it just doesn’t work that way, does it?
As I look back on my life, I realize that it is those times that were the most painful – even unbearable at the moment – those are the times that I learned some of the most valuable lessons. Those are the times that I discovered some of my truest and deepest friendships. Those are the times when I learned about God in a way that I never would or could have learned without the pain. For example, I never would have known— really truly known beyond a shadow of a doubt— how very tender God was had I not experienced that side of Him in the wake of my miscarriage. It was through that season that I experienced His gentleness and His unending compassion in a way that had never hit me before. Those attributes of Him were just words before that. I’m not saying that season of my life was peachy keen by any means— quite the contrary, actually. But now when I hear the phrase “God is compassionate” I remember: I remember that feeling of being in such deep pain— pain that words couldn’t rightly express— and yet I felt God’s love so deeply that words also couldn’t rightly express how very near and very loving He felt to me. In those moments, there was a real-live “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7); despite all of my hurt and disappointment, I knew I was treasured by the holy God of the universe. Treasured beyond description. Even though I felt like I was unraveling and emotionally hemorrhaging, I also still felt held. I still felt His giant hands cradling me, sheltering me, and caring for me in the midst of it all.
Another example of a painful time that years later displayed a beautiful sight of God that I never knew – was a particular “yucky friend incident” that I experienced in the sixth grade. This experience, though deeply painful and the root of a few “big ticket issues” I had for 20-something years after the fact, was so beautifully healed in a friend who came along later in my life. You can read about the sixth grade incident and the amazing friends who helped heal me of that here, here and here.
Another aspect of God’s personhood that I never would have known had I not seen it firsthand through trial, was His capability. My trust in His capability was hard won, friends. If you want to read about the hard the challenge that brought about that revelation you can read about it here. And to read about how He rescued me and showed his amazing strength and ability to save, you can read about that by clicking some of the related links within that post.
My point is this: life is indeed hard. Much harder than I imagined it would be when I was a young, naïve adolescent. Marriage has been much harder than I imagined it would have been when I made those solemn vows 14 years ago. Parenting has also been much harder than I thought it would be before I ever had any kids of my own. And the normal day-to-day challenge of relational conflict, time management, financial issues and body-image issues just add fuel to the fire of hard times. So I get it, people. I have certainly had my fair share of crappy times, painful betrayals and good old fashioned slander. It sucks.
But isn’t it also equally beautiful how true this is: God is there, too. And He truly and unashamedly loves us and cares for us even there. And He can teach us and reveal to us things we never knew possible if we will let Him. As Beth Moore says in Children of the Day,
“He will never lead you into the path of a freight train, but He’ll meet you in the carnage should you choose that route. He will never veer you from your destiny but, should another path seduce you, He can turn a long, ugly road back home. When you find yourself unwelcome where you thought you’d been sent, He’ll help you move on. If you walk life out with Him day to day and season to season, even what seems like the most futile detour will end up taking you to a spot where a piece of your puzzle hides.”
I praise You, God, for all the ways You have met me in my hurt, walked with me through my pain, and even held me when I wasn’t able to even so much as pick myself up off the ground or speak or pray coherently. You are so much better than I ever knew. I thank You that there is even more of You to come— I haven’t cracked the mystery of You yet. You will always be surprising me and I will always be discovering new parts of You that I never imagined possible. Thank You, Lord.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us… In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
~Romans 8:18, 26-29 (NIV)
* * *
What about you?
Have you ever met God in a way you likely never could have met Him had you not gone through a pretty intense trial?
Please feel free to share your journey in the comment section below.