This is a bad time of year for this, Pastor Craig! Yes, this takes me back to November and December of 1999: the 2nd time my life fell apart.
The first time, I don’t remember. That was when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The only reason I remember the date, May 19, 1986, is because my grandmother told me and showed me her journals at a much later date.
And I am taken back to a year ago, when my uncle died. And I couldn’t be there.
And I am taken back to a few years ago, when my great-aunt passed away.
And I am taken back to the struggles with my faith I have had on and off since I lost my sister. My grandfather. My science teacher. My great-grandmother. My uncle. Close friends who have inspired me. My divorce. Coming to terms with depression.
Not a good time of year, Craig. And yet, the TRUTH I have learned through each of these experiences has blessed me. God has taught me SO MUCH each time my world has fallen apart.
Watch this: When God Seems Inattentive. Then you may continue.
When it seems like God doesn’t answer, He does. I prayed and prayed and prayed so hard for my sister! And yet, He didn’t spare her life. She chose to end it. I’ll never fully understand why. Even 16 years later, I will never fully understand. So why didn’t He answer? Oh but He did! It took me months, if not years, to see it. I prayed, “God, BE with her! Be with her. Comfort her. Be with her.” My dad shared with me the image he had when he found her: “Jesus was cradling her.” BAM! HE WAS WITH HER!!!! He held her through her pain, through her anguish, through her grief. He answered my prayer by revealing Himself to my dad in that moment. Doesn’t make sense, but He was there. He never left. He heard me, despite the enemy’s best attempts to convince me otherwise.
When life if falling apart, and it seems NOTHING good can come out of it, God makes a way. When I reflect back and see the safety net He had in place for me in that time, and every time since, I am in awe. His goodness NEVER fails. He provided for me through my roommates, my boss (the college chaplain), my college advisor, my then-boyfriend…so many people who helped keep me afloat through grief and depression, who ultimately saved my life, became blessings from my Father above. Craig shared this phrase: “We should not interpret the goodness of God through our experiences, but we should interpret our experiences through the GOODNESS OF GOD.” God is GOOD in ALL THINGS, and at ALL TIMES. He never fails. The brokenness we experience is a bi-product of sin, original sin, continued sin…
My faith, therefore, must be in God’s PURPOSE rather than MY PLAN.
Isaiah 55:6-11 says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Proverbs 19:21 (NIV) says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
Even Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane: (Luke 22:41-42, and in other places in the Gospels…) And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
It is OK to pray these types of prayers! God wants us to share our heart’s desires with Him! Sometimes, they line up with His will and purpose. Sometimes, they don’t. And that’s ok. Each time, we learn. We grow. We learn to TRUST HIM MORE. Sometimes we have to get over some distrust and misunderstanding first. But ultimately, we grow closer to Him. We learn to cling to Him in times of struggle. We begin to live out the Footprints poem and recognize when God is carrying us, even kicking and screaming, through the most difficult of times.
I may never understand why God has allowed me to experience these thorns and trials. And I know Job never understood his hardships either. And yet, I am thankful for the love, the grace, the mercy, the forgiveness He has given me through Jesus Christ. I am thankful for the gift of compassion and empathy.. I am thankful that He has saved my life. It is my desire, as much as I am able, to give this life right back to Him. Lord, I am Yours. May Your Will be done in my life, now and always. Catch me when I fall, hold me when I falter. May YOU ALONE be glorified each time You save me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.