I just haven’t been able to shake thinking about my friend who told her story. A few years ago she lost her house to foreclosure. Neither she nor her husband understood the whole process and during this time one of their daughters got married. Obviously she had a lot to think about. She said they moved out but were not able to do a full move all at once. One day she came back with her car to get another load of their possessions and everything was gone! Everything. The house had been sold and the new owners thought what was left had been “dumped” so they had it hauled away as trash. My friend commented that her husband was a guy who kept everything and that the garage was full when they last left. So there are “things” from their life that are just plain gone. (period) No getting them back. What a shock/loss! However, she said she is currently living in a place roughly a third of the size of that house and has never been more peace-filled. Her countenance backs up that statement.
I thought of her as I read something van Gogh said when referring to a painful season of his life, “As molting time – when they change their feathers – is for birds, so adversity or misfortune is the difficult time for us human beings. One can stay in it – in that time of molting – one can also emerge renewed.” Suffering is not abnormal. It is not to be avoided in this life. It is an aspect of God’s grace to be accepted. To sacrifice your immediate desire is often how to fulfill your ultimate desire. Jesus endured the suffering of the cross because His ultimate goal was to obey His Father and save us from our sins, which brings Him great joy.
For me in a much less dramatic part of my life, choosing to go exercise when I’d really rather be reading or watching a movie is a minor “sacrifice” of my immediate comfort/pleasure for a long term health that I desire to have. My friend chose to focus on what is long term important in her life rather than on the tangible things she lost. She has learned that God truly is her provider and she doesn’t need as many “things” as she thought in order to be happy. God teaches us to give up things with only a “little” value to gain things of eternal value. We learn this through the pain of “trials” – things we don’t choose but they happen and “discipline”, things we do choose.
Dallas Willard writes: “It is absolutely essential to our growth into the “mind” of Jesus that we accept the “trials” of ordinary existence as the place where we are to experience and find the reign of God-with-us as actual reality. We are not to try to get in a position to avoid trials. And we are not to “catastrophize” and declare the “end of the world” when things happen.” (emphasis mine)
When I relax and realize that God is walking with me through my circumstance I begin to watch for what He wants me to experience and learn. The hurt doesn’t necessarily go completely away but I will say the sting is much less. I know God loves me and ultimately if I will cooperate with Him I will come out of this season of hurt stronger. What about you? Have you experienced this or are you experiencing this now? Are you in the midst of a season that you just can’t “settle” with? Tell us, but more importantly tell God. Hang in there, you are not alone.