Have you ever wondered why God allows ongoing pain in the lives of His children? My friend Laurie and I have spoken together of hard things. Of dreams and plans and detours and ultimately, of learning to let it all go into the hands of a God who knows best. It’s my privilege to introduce you today to my friend:
Today I had to ask my husband to come get me from work and take me home.
I had been sitting at my desk, and when I got up, my back muscles contorted, causing a massive spasm which literally threw me on top of the desk. I imagine I was quite the sight as I was holding onto my keyboard for dear life, not able to get to the chair and trying desperately not to hit the floor.
One of my worst nightmares was unfolding as I realized I was going to have to call my boss and coworker to cover for me. I was going to let people down and have to accept the fact that, at least for now, I am not able to fulfill my work responsibilities.
I hate, more than anything else, to not be able to do what I know I should be able to do. Lately, I have been saying, and have been believing, and have been coming to terms with those two little words a lot: “I can’t!”
I hate those two words. I really do. Because I am—or rather, I was—a doer before all this.
I was capable, confident, reliable, and independent. I thought I didn’t need anyone or anything else. I was on top of the world, and now it feels like the world is on top of me. Literally.
So, there I was, crying out to God for help in my office, holding on to the desk for dear life with my legs hanging off the side. I can only imagine what people outside my locked office were thinking, because my pain-filled cries weren’t the quiet, muffled kind.
Thankfully, my husband called at just that moment, interrupted his work day, and immediately came to my aid.
And in those moments, I realized that it is time.
It is time to set myself free from my impossible expectations. It is time to let go of my own agenda, to let God do His thing while I learn to rest in Him. It is time to stop asking, “Why?” and “When will it end?” and instead, start asking, “God, what do you want me to learn from this?”
The life lessons that God wants to teach us through situations like these are life-changing. Learning to release my own agenda was only the first lesson for me. I thought my plan was a good, even God-honoring plan, but it turns out that God had a different plan. A plan that included chronic pain and illness. A plan that I never would have chosen for myself. But even in the pain, I have learned a second lesson that we would all be better off to learn.
The lesson is this: God is working everything out for good in our lives, even if we don’t believe it or see it.
Now, let me just say that this lesson is a hard one to believe when you are filled with a crazy amount of pain. If you can’t quite believe it today as you read this, let me encourage you with the following words from God’s own heart:
“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 8:28)
I confess that in some areas it has taken me years to see the good that God can bring out of a situation. Sometimes our heads must choose to trust when our hearts can’t muster the courage to do so. And that brings me to the next lesson I have learned.
Sometimes, God allows us to experience broken bodies so that we can realize we have an even greater need—a broken heart. A broken heart that needs Him. If we will let Him, God wants to take our broken hearts, and pour His love in. That is part of the “good” that He wants to work for us in the Scripture verse above. He wants to heal our brokenness, and in so doing, bring good out of it. And then, as only God can do, He wants to work through us to show a world of hurting and broken hearts that He can do the same for them. That is part of what He means when He says that we have been “called according to His purpose.”
God actually has a purpose for us. No matter how broken we feel inside, God has a purpose for us. We may not see how, but God can take broken bodies and broken hearts and use them for good in His great purposes. All He needs is a willing heart.
We often feel, though, that we are too big of a mess for God to accept. But in reality, He desperately wants us to turn to Him in the middle of our mess and lift our arms up to Him, just like the little girl who needs and turns to her daddy, even though she is in the middle of a defiant mess of her own making.
All that God needs is a willing heart. Because if you are willing, even though you may feel like you are a mess, God will honor whatever faith you can muster, and take your brokenness and turn it into something truly beautiful.
“Dear God, I pray that You will take our brokenness and use it for good in your great purposes. I pray that You will use our “I can’t” situations to show us what You CAN do and want to do in our lives. Thank you, God, for hearing our prayer. In Jesus’ great name, Amen.”
Laurie Miller is a wife, mom, nurse, and patient with fibromyalgia. She works as an Inpatient Educator at a local hospital and blogs at God-Living with Chronic Illness. She also leads an online encouragement group for women with chronic illness called God-Living Girls. For more information or to join God-Living Girls, contact Laurie at [email protected].