I have seen the picture above multiple times over the last few years (I like to search google for random pictures that depict my feelings, events, etc). I came across it again a few weeks ago. As I look at it now, it reminds me of a bible verse I always liked (hold on, gotta look it up). John 16:33 says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." God is telling us here that the picture above is how are hearts will and should look.
We are guaranteed from the Creator of the universe that we will suffer. That our hearts are gonna be bruised, torn, ripped, patched, & repaired many times, that’s just life. That sucks! -stop here and just admit to yourself, that sucks! It’s ok to think that, God isn’t fooled and He sent His son here so He could truly understand how you feel RIGHT NOW reading that. Because until we find a way to accept that, we have no where to go.
I am a somewhat dramatic person. I don’t mean to be, I just am. Don’t worry, for the most part I keep it in check, but there are a few unfortunate friends that have to deal with it (love you guys). I have said many times to them that it’s too hard getting close to people and maybe it would be better never to love (or want things) because you never get hurt. (Again, don’t worry, I don’t really think that’s right, sometimes it just makes me feel better to be a baby.) There are so many problems with that statement, biblical and non-biblical. One, unless you are a hermit, it’s impossible not to meet people. We were created with a need to be close to people. Also, it’s just impractical, we need to speak & communicate to truly function-we need each other. But even more than that, that way of thinking goes directly against what Christ was about. His message to the world was about how we are to love each other, not just guard our heart so that nothing could ever mar it (jeez I totally wish I was a big sports buff or mega nerd right now-a good analogy always rounds out a paragraph). That line of thinking is downright sinful-it separates us from God.
So, what does this mean? What does God tell us about why we suffer? I Peter 4:1 says, “So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer too.” Verse 2 goes on to say, “You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.” Although this passage is specifically referring to suffering because you are a follower, I think it still reveals some things God wants us to know about the hardships and loss we face. One, that Christ suffered first. We are not alone in our suffering. Our cries of pain are not unheard. Second, that after experiencing a time of suffering, if we follow Christ through it, we will gain a change of heart, change of direction in how we think and consequently, how we act.
Up until now, I have considered myself fortunate that I have not endured much suffering at all. Yes, I have spent much of my life feeling like things were missing and I have lost people, but no one extremely close to me. But I’m starting to think it is those that experience great suffering that really learn how to live. I’m in no way saying I want to suffer more or am asking to, but I’m starting to see how those who have suffered greatly, have gained the most. Those who suffer learn to appreciate what they have, they know those things could be gone in a minute. Those who suffer learn to love differently, because they know that love conquers the deepest lows they have experienced. Those who suffer follow Christ with eyes wide open, because they see how long they have had them closed and have endured the consequences of it.
We serve a God who has the ability to right all wrongs and make all things new, especially our broken hearts. There is a purpose to everything we experience including the hardships. I love the way Colin Creel describes this in his book Perspectives (that I mentioned yesterday). “In many ways our lives mirror a game of chess; at each moment we attempt to make the best choice with the knowledge we have. Often, we may have appeared to make the wrong choice, but God’s vantage point differs from ours; he sees the big picture. As long as we learn from every experience and remain obedient to the impressions God places on our hearts, we cannot fail. Ultimately, every experience potentially prepares us for something wonderful the Lord has in store for us.” There is a reason our hearts are broken. There is a healer to fix them. He’s waiting for us with a Kingdom-sized band-aid.
Today is the first day I have had a hard time writing. Not for a lack of subject matter, but just a hard time focusing on what I learned and wanted to say. I started out strong and had a pretty clear focus of not only what I wanted to say, but of a reasonably positive attitude most of the day. I can’t say I was happy, but somewhat peaceful. What changed that? Honestly? For the first time in 18 days (omg it’s been 18 days!?!?) I started listening to something other than Christian music. I’m totally not saying there is anything wrong with secular music, there isn’t and I have a lot of good music. In fact, the cd I chose to listen to is fantastic. But the change of focus it brought on, was suddenly devastating to my attitude. This kinda scared me a little bit. I know I am still in a time of grieving, but I am shocked to realize I still have so far to go. I’m tired and scared, but do believe the truths I have written about today, God just wants me to wait for now.
I had seen the poem below a few years ago when I was struggling being a perpetually single adult (ha-I’m not sure I should have wanted that to change) and it has really meant a lot to me. It also helped when my sister was waiting patiently to get pregnant with her first kid (love that brat!). I actually found a copy the other day that I used to carry around and have been trying to remember where I found it. Surprise, surprise, when I was flipping through the Perspectives book there it was. So many times in my life this has and will continue to be my cry to God and fortunately (though I don’t like to admit it), His answer.
Desperately, helplessly, longingly I cried:
Quietly, patiently, lovingly God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate,
And the Master so gently said, “Child you must wait.”
“Wait? You say, wait?” my indignant reply.
“Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By Faith, I have asked, and am claiming your Word.
My future and all to which I can relate
Hangs in the balance, and YOU tell me to WAIT?
I’m needing a ‘yes,’ a go-ahead sign,
Or even a ‘no’ to which I can resign.
And Lord, You promised that if we believe
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord, I’ve been asking, and this is my cry:
I’m weary of asking! I need a reply!
Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
As my Master replied once again, “You must wait.”
So, I slumped in my chair, defeated and taunt
And grumbled to God, “So, I’m waiting…for what?”
He seemed, then, to kneel, and His eyes wept with mine,
And He tenderly said, “I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens, and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead, and cause the mountains to run.
All you seek, I could give, and pleased you would be.
You would have what you want—But, you wouldn’t know Me.
You’d not know the depths of my love for each saint;
You’d not know the power I give to the faint;
You’d not learn to see through the clouds of despair;
You’d not learn to trust just by knowing I’m there;
You’d not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence were all you could see.
You’d never experience that fullness of love
As the peace of My Spirit descends like a dove;
You’d know that I give and I save…(for a start),
But you’d not know the depth of the beat of My heart.
The glow of My comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight,
The depth that’s beyond getting just what you asked
Of an infinite God, who makes what you have LAST.
You’d never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that ‘My grace is sufficient for Thee
Yes, your dreams for your loved one overnight would come true,
But, Oh, the Loss! If I lost what I’m doing in you!
So, be silent, My child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to get to know Me.
And though oft’ may My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still, ‘WAIT.’”