Tag Archives: pain

The gift of pain.

“Christ calls us to the cross because we’ll never become like Him apart from pain.” ~Bob Sorge, The Fire of Delayed Answers

Too many times, when people come to a saving knowledge of Christ, they are under the misconception that because they are now Christians, life will be easy. I always say, if life were easy, and we had all the answers, we wouldn’t need Jesus.

Life is at times joyous and wonderful and fun. Life is also messy, and frustrating and painful.

Pain.

Nobody likes pain. We all try to avoid it. But it is necessary sometimes. And experiencing that pain is like being in the refiner’s fire, heating us to unbearable temperatures so that we are soft and malleable and molded, by the Creator, into something amazing and beautiful and useful.

In the introduction of his book The Fire of Delayed Answers, Bob Sorge tells us that “the chronicles of the Israeli nation testify that in times of comparative comfort and blessing, the hearts of the people of Israel wandered into idolatry. Distress was necessary to turn their hearts back to God.”

Last week, I mentioned a period of our lives that I refer to as “the wilderness”. I felt like one of the children of Israel wandering around in the desert and wondered if God had left me there for 40 years to suffer. But I was also driven to my knees, crying out in desperation to a God I trusted and knew was there. In that time, I experienced a closeness to Him like never before. I believe that time was necessary to turn my heart back to God and to go deeper with Him.

Was it painful? Yes. Was the reward of the comfort and closeness of the Lord worth it? Absolutely. Did He deliver us out of the wilderness? Yes, He did. But, not immediately and not without pain.

Sorge says, “Sometimes He delays His provision in order to try us by fire. The delay itself is a fire ordained by God to produce a deep work in our hearts. God has a design for our deliverance, but he also has a purpose for the fiery delay….His purpose in the delay is to strengthen our faith, kindle our love to new depths of passion and maturity, and impart the heart and character of Christ to us—all in order to make us a more useful vessel.”

God will provide for us and He will deliver us. He has a plan for that deliverance, but it will come at the right time—His time. Our pain is never wasted, just as the pain Jesus experienced on the cross was not wasted. His suffering brought us the most beautiful gift we could ever receive.

Our refinement is the way to get to know the heart of God,  to become more like Jesus and to have a deeper relationship with Him. When that happens, we have more to pour out to Him and to the others who come into our lives.

“When our passion for God becomes the foremost fire in our lives, then the impacting of others’ lives becomes the inevitable outflow of that dynamic relationship with God.” ~Bob Sorge, The Fire of Delayed Answers

I want that.

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I am excited to be joining in on a weekly book discussion led by Jason Stasyszen  and Sarah Salter. Please visit them to see other posts in response to The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge, at Jason’s blog—Connecting to Impact, and Sarah’s blog—Living Between the Lines. And even if you are not reading the book, please feel free to jump into the discussion!

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What now?

Isaiah5410

Like so many of you, I am still reeling from the events of last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut. There are really no words to adequately describe the horror and the sadness and there is no way I can begin to understand the depth of the mourning of those who have been directly affected.

I am praying for them. I am praying for our nation.

And I am trusting in the unfailing love of a God who has compassion for his people and who promises to never leave us nor forsake us, whose love will not be shaken, even when we are shaken to the core. Even when horrible things happen that are impossible to explain.

I believe that God’s heart is broken too. And in the midst of the terrible actions that humanity sometimes takes because of our free will to choose, He holds those of us who are hurting so deeply close to His heart and weeps and mourns with us.

I don’t know what the answers are, but I do know that we live in a fallen world where, daily, man chooses to ignore the laws of this nation. What makes us think that more laws are going to force man to make different choices? The only thing that can cause man to make difference choices is a change in his heart. Angry political rhetoric and blaming guns or blaming autism or blaming mental illness or blaming video games or blaming parenting or whatever else you want to blame, does nothing to change the hearts of men.

Only God can do that.

More important than finding answers, though, I think we need to remember that there are people out there who have suffered terrible loss. We need to focus on loving on and praying for those who are hurting—to try to encourage them and point them toward hope.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him.” ~Lamentations 3:21-24 NIV

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For when you don’t know what to say.

I have started, stopped, deleted, and restarted this post about 15 times. I’ve wanted to write, but my heart has felt so heavy and I just didn’t know what to say or if I should even say anything at all…not everyone wants their business put out on the internet, you know. But here it is.

The last two and a half weeks have felt like some kind of a weird whirlwind, a roller coaster, a strange dream…just insert whatever analogy you can dream up that applies to experiencing the heights of joy and the depths of sorrow in a matter of hours.

We had a beautiful Thanksgiving with family and then I went for a fun weekend of shopping in Atlanta with my sister-in-law and another friend a week after that. All of that falls into the joy category.

Then I got the text, at 7 o’clock on Sunday morning a week ago now. Call me when you get up—was all it said. Very unusual for my friend to text me at that time. I knew something was wrong.

I got up then, at 7, on the morning I was to return from my shopping trip. I called her. On the other end of the phone was my precious friend, my sister, my best friend for almost 30 years, telling me the devastating news that her sweet Daddy had passed away unexpectedly.

The sorrow.

I was dumbfounded—still am, really. Chatty girl that I am, I was at a loss for words. I did not know what to say. I sat there and wept for my friend, for her kids, for her mom, for myself and in my shock was only able to say to her, “I’m so, so sorry.” and “I love you.”

Somehow it just didn’t feel like enough. When you get news like this, there is always this inexplicable need to do something. To help carry your loved one’s grief in some way.

But do what?

In that moment, I could only try to imagine her pain and foggily try to process this information and then feebly try to convey my deep love for her and her family. But truly, all I really wanted to do was get in my car and go to her—two states away at the time—and hug her so tight. Fortunately, a couple of days later, I was able to do just that. Unfortunately, my time with her was so brief. Oh, but I am so grateful that I was able to go, even for a short time.

My heart is suddenly keenly aware of those who go through this season with sorrow and hurt and loss. You know, those things that you never really get over, but somehow learn to live with. And though I know that, as believers, we do not grieve for our loved ones as those who have no hope, grief is hard. Loss is devastatingly sad and painful. And grieving while at the same time trying to get back to the business of living can be elusive. We need each other’s help to do that. We need each other so much.

And so, when I don’t know what else to say or do, I sit, I weep, I hug, I text, I send a card. I try to make my friend smile. I wait to see if she wants to talk or cry or not talk at all.

I pray. And pray some more.

And I say “I’m so sorry” and “I love you.”

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 NASB

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