Redemptive Suffering.

God woke me up with a clap this morning. Whether He was applauding me or trying to scare me senseless, I’m not quite sure. But He was there at my window, clapping like thunder. Oh wait.

I LOVE thunder storms. I love the idea that the angels are up in heaven bowling and the lightning is the strobe light celebration when they get a strike. I like the image of thunder being God’s footsteps through out his creation, the lightning the flash of his flashlight as he is walking around and looking at all He has made. I love to envision the mountains as the prints on His fingers, the rivers and lakes as the wider wrinkles in his face – His forehead, around His eyes, maybe even laugh lines.

I love words, similes, metaphors. I sometimes believe that I am a living metaphor – a ship to be sailed, a vessel to be directed. My God is the sailor and I have no power, no direction, no purpose without Him at the helm. I am a vessel of words – a mouth to be lead by Jesus, feet that stumble but continue pushing forward regardless; like a child too short to walk through the 3 feet of fallen snow on the ground, but still trying to make the wide stride of my father’s footsteps. Trying so hard to desperately fall in time and in line with His steps, but more often than not, falling short and lagging behind.

So inadequate.

So weary.

So human.

But redemption is there. Redemption is there despite suffering – even suffering that is brought on by my own doing.

There is glory even in the midst of our deepest pains. When we hit rock bottom, it’s okay to take a look around, breathe in our surroundings, make note of the things we don’t (or occasionally, do) like about where we are and how we ended up there. Don’t waste your suffering, friends. In your striving to avoid shame, to avoid guilt, to avoid judgment, don’t be so quick to pull yourself back up out of whatever pit you’ve stumbled, that you don’t learn the lesson intended for you to learn while you were down.

That being said, don’t let the shame, guilt, and fear keep you down in that pit either. God is unaltered by our storms. He doesn’t stir up the rain and winds around us with the intent of causing us to stumble, but when Satan sneaks in and trips us up, you can be assured that God will ALWAYS find a way out and be there with outstretched arms, welcoming us back into His warm embrace. Even when we are paralyzed with fear, God is unfrightened by our problems.

I am 23 years young, but I am quickly learning that God will take our greatest pains and use them to reveal His purpose. The very thing that you find you are most ashamed of can become your greatest ministry in helping others if you will take the time to look around when you hit rock bottom. When you get to that deep, dark, low place in your life take a minute to take some inventory and then make a plan and get back on track. In my own experience, it won’t ever happen overnight, but it WILL happen.

The importance of that inventory you take when you’re at the bottom is that it turns your suffering into redemptive suffering. You become a living example of how God’s redemption works in the world – How mighty His power to save truly is. When you go through a problem or a deep hurt/pain and you can then use it to benefit others, you become the hands, feet, and mouth of Jesus Christ.

He redeems you from your sin and pain. You live by example. You can help others be redeemed too. That inventory that we take while at rock bottom is what keeps us from going back there again. When we take the time to sit in our pain, to really feel it in our souls, to examine it, to ask questions, to look at it from all angles, then in the future when it tries to rear its ugly head, we are prepared. We can be armed and ready to tackle it because we have redemption that is built on GOD’S truth, not whatever truth was the most accessible or the fastest way of getting out from rock bottom at the time. No, our redemption can be built on the Pure, Holy, Truth that is based on the Word of God – often times the messiest, most confusing, most life-altering way of stepping up out of the muck and grime that our lives can fall into without our even realizing it.

If we can allow God to use us in and through our suffering then we have the chance to be an example of His redemption to the world around us. We can be the living hands and feet of Jesus. We can show the world that redemption is possible and we can help people see that our suffering brought us to a place of redemption. Suffering obviously isn’t something to seek out, but when we find ourselves in the midst of it, we don’t need to run scared. We can sit there, for just a quick moment, and look around us – at our life, at what worked, at what didn’t work, at how we got to where we are – and we can praise the Lord knowing that He has already fought and won the battle of our redemption! There is life after death and there is ALWAYS redemption in our suffering.

Don’t waste your pain, sweet friends. When you find yourself surrounded by pain, take your inventory, crawl your way out knowing that the battle has already been won, and live your life as an example of redemptive suffering so that others can see Jesus Christ in you.

Psalm 25:5 “Guide me in your truth and teach me, my God, my Savior.”

Isaiah 58:8 “Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteous shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”

All sacrifice and suffering is redemptive. It is used to either teach the individual or to help others. Nothing is by chance.”
A.J. Russell

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God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners.”
Søren Kierkegaard

Who Are You Following?!

I would also like to take this opportunity to ask for prayers as our mission team sends a group to Haiti. They are leaving today and will return in a week! One of my favorite human beings is going and it’s her first overseas missions trip! Prayers for my sweet sister and the entire team would be greatly appreciated!

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