The story that you read yesterday was the catalyst that has sent me on a now 4-year journey I would never have chosen for myself. This event was at the beginning of several major life changes and events in my family.
And as much as I HATE that that is part of my story, I believe God is restoring the pain and the grief that is a result of the pain.
Please note, I’m careful here not to say that God is using the pain. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in the healing process, it’s that the most painful thing for me to hear has been and continues to be a misrepresentation of Romans 8:28.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according ot his purpose.
In fact, let’s take today to break that down as I explain a little bit more about how I fell apart.
To start, in The NIV Application Commentary, Douglas Moo suggests that our view that God will work all things together for our good is a bit misconstrued. Everything I heard was that God “had a better plan for me.” And while Sydney’s death was by no means the end of my story, I find it incredibly hard to believe that this is actually his “better plan” for me. For my aunt and uncle. For my cousin.
Rather, Moo suggests:
“The difficultity with this application is that it interprets “good” from a narrow and often materialistic perspective. From God’s perspective, “good” must be defined in spiritual terms. The ultimate good is God’s glory, and he is glorified when his children live as Christ did and attain the golory he destined them for.”
This. This gives me a measure of peace.
“The ‘good’ God may have in mind may involve the next life entirely. He may take us out of a secure, well-paying job in order to shake us out of a materialistic lifestyle that does not honor bibleical priorities, and we may never have a good job again…. Remember that it is by sharing in Christ’s sufferings that we eventually will be able to share in his glory as well.”
For me, the platitudes that others offered in the face of my grief were more overwhelming than the actual event itself. It led me down a path where I could no longer trust God. In fact, I remember sitting with my pastor, doing some counseling because I was sincerely seeking help, and telling him, “God killed Sydney.” For me, the choice was God’s not to provide us the miracle we all longed for. Never mind the fact that I had been praying for healing, and in this case, His healing looked like ending her suffering.
All of the changes in my life were overwhelming. I couldn’t figure out how to make sense of the hurt and the pain. Heck, I still can’t make sense of any of it. Except that I can. I know that when Eve took the bite of fruit, sin entered the world. Sickness. Hurt. Pain. Death. Grief. It’s all there in Genesis.
So, though I don’t believe that God “planned” this hurt and pain in my life, I do fully believe that he will restore the broken places. Check out Psalm 23:3 in The Message:
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.
My ESV Study Bible takes me to Psalm 19:7 from here:
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
Catch my breath.
Reviving my soul.
There are still days when this feels nearly impossible. But do you see it? God wants to help us catch our breath, he wants to breathe new life back into us because we cannot do it on our own. For many, many months, I could not rely on his strength to catch my breath. Really, there are still days when I just can’t. I fall apart and have to start all over again the next day.
As I reflect back on the last 4 years, I recognize that there has been a change. I may not always feel like I’m back on solid footing with God. Reality check says that most days I’m really not there yet. But this journey has led me to read books by authors I may not have read before. To listen to the words of preachers I may not have given the time of day before. I’ve expanded my understanding of God. Of the Bible. I often find myself stealing Eric’s Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and his Greek English New Testament. (In fact, just today he said the perk of sharing the office is that his books can go back on the shelf! LOL)
I’ve learned that I’m not actually catching my breath myself. God uses Holy Spirit inside of me to revive my soul. Holy Spirit speaks life into my heart as I read scripture and he opens my eyes to see the truth. He opens my ears to begin to hear the words of life, acceptance, and peace God has already given me.
This is my story of “not yet.” My story of being made whole. And walking towards the healing God is holding out to me as he waits patiently for me to lay down all my burdens and be free.