This week has been one of the hardest weeks in mine and Dustin’s ministry so far. Our youth group has been shaken by some devestating things this week, and God has really been teaching us how to fully trust in every aspect of Him. Within in days of each other, we had one student diagnosed with leukemia, and another lost his life from an accident. There has been little sleep and rest, through the worry, heartache, stress and uncertainty. All of our students have been on our hearts and minds these last few days.
All of this has left me wondering many times this week, why things like this happen. Why do ‘bad’ things happen? Is God in this? Does He hear and see our every cry and feel our every pain? Wondering all of these things, and going through all of these questions in my mind immediately left me with the thoughts of how God took my own broken life, the ‘bad’ stuff that happened to me, and turned it all into something so beautiful.
I went through years of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. All of those things left a very broken, lonely, heartbroken girl. There were times where the reality of it all was too much. I struggled with eating disorders, self harm, horrible deppression. There were times when I wished God would take my life. I was never told how proud someone was of me. I wasn’t told I was beautiful, but more often told what I should change about myself. Love wasn’t a word that was used very much. There was so much anger, hurt, lying, cheating, and pain. When I was 13 I accepted Christ into my life. But even that was hard to comprehend. How could God love me? If He loved me, why would He allow so much pain in my life? And if my life was so messed up, how could a God who is perfect even look at me? I felt very lonely, unloved, worthless, and ugly for years. I wish I could say that my life changed early on, but in reality, I am thankful it didn’t. I learned many things these last few years like, true healing, peace and realizing how great God is. It took some tough days, days where I couldn’t even get out of bed, to get to a place of finally feeling mended. Is life perfect? No, but I have learned so many great and incredible truths about God through my ‘bad’ times. I was filthy and broken, no one wanted this mess. Then all at once I was rescued from a world of pain, and agony, by the One my soul longed for.
The last few years have been tough. Sometimes healing is the hardest part. It causes you to dig to the deepest parts of your heart to push everything out. There were days where I felt lonely, and like life would never feel right. But by pushing everything to the surface, and not leaving one single thing behind, allows for God to heal completely.
I can’t claim to know everything. But here are some things I do know.
I know God doesn’t allow hurts in our lives, because He wants to see us hurt. Most times we don’t see the big picture, or we wonder if He sees all of the moments that knock us down. Isaiah 30:18 says, “Therefore The Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you. For The Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.” He sees, and He hears, but sometimes we need only to be still. Sometimes we need to be patient, and wait on Him to reveal Himself to us. Picture Him on the edge of His throne watching us suffer, and all He is wanting to do is help us, and hold tightly on to us.
I know that He has overcome all the rotten, dirty, no good things of this world. He knows we will have moments of pain, because we live in a sinful, broken world. But by His death and resurrection, Jesus has overcome every bad part of this place. John 16:33 says, ” I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Life won’t be easy for anyone. But what I do know, is that if you trust in the Savior of our lives, that He will give you a peace that goes beyond all of your pain.
I have learned to rejoice in my past. Because of the perfect love of God, because of His grace and mercy, I have learned to be thankful for what I have gone through. I know that the tragedies I went through only give me more of a light to shine for Christ. Part of my journey of mending the broken pieces of my life, was really praying that God would someday use the story that He has given me. When times were overwhelmingly tough, I was quickly given a peace that one day God would use this. That He would use it for His glory, so that He might be praised through His wonderous works of healing. That it might be shown, that we can face anything, and God will use those things for His Kingdom. It is still a very present prayer in my life. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect through weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Sometimes I wish He hadn’t trusted me so much, to give me this life and all the sorrows I faced. There are times where I don’t feel strong enough in any sense. But I do know that my strength is not found in myself, but is completely found in Him. I am daily reminded of His grace, and that I don’t deserve ANYTHING. He owes me nothing, and yet not only did He save me from my sins, He rescued me from a life of destruction. My life right now could have ended up looking very different. The blessings that have overflown my life are amazing. Never did I imagine being married to the most godly, humble, loving, compassionate man. Never did I think I would have two precious girls. Never did I think I would be a youth pastors wife! Where I would be in a position where God would use my past, to help those who have experienced the same hurts. There are many more blessings beyond what I ever dreamed, so why should I not make sure HIS name is praised! HE loves me, and nurtures me, more than I ever need.
I won’t lead on that I know how every hurt feels, because I don’t. What I want you to know, is that whether its a death, sickness, abuse, worthlessness, trouble with friends, failing a class, no matter how big or small the trial is, He cares. He holds us up, and dries our tears. Psalm 56:8 says, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in you bottle. Are they not in your book?” He holds every tear, and knows why each one has fallen. We are not alone. He is with us. These are words that came to me when I found out about our student Tori, that was diagnosed with luekemia:
There are things in life that will knock you off your feet, and leave you asking ‘why?’ a million times over. There will be times where all seems lost, and you’re grasping on to every ounce of hope you have left. And through all of that I am beyond thankful that we have a God who knows every detail. Every pain, and hurt He knows. “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.” ~Nahum 1:7 I am so thankful that He allows us to fall in His arms when we feel any sense of hopelessness. That when we wonder “why?”, He knows. What an Incredible God we have. I will rest in that. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” ~Romans 12:12
Please don’t praise me for anything. My God is the one who took this life, and who takes everyone of our broken, messed up lives, and turns them into the most beautiful masterpiece. Will there be cracks? Yes. Will there be parts where the glue is a little messy, and the lines are not straight? Absolutely. But that’s the best part of the redemption of God. He takes all of us no matter what. No sin is too big. No hurt is too hard for Him to heal. There is so much more to my journey, that I will share over time. What I want you all to know now, is that we are beautiful, and treasured, and loved. And He has a purpose and a plan for every one of our lives. Rest in that.
Please also join me in prayer for Tori and her family. There is already so much strength and hope in them. And God is and will use Tori in incredible ways. Also, please pray for the family of Jake, who is the 16 year old boy who passed away. Pray for his friends, some of who are our students. Pray that God will us all to minister to them in ways only He can orchestrate.