Webster's dictionary defines "hard stuff" as any challenge or difficulty in our life that makes us question God. Okay, I joke, I joke. Webster's didn't say that, but I did. I may only be 26 but I have experienced a few storms that have made me question God and ask why. Why is this happening to me? What are you trying to teach me? Why me? Why doesn't God make it stop?
You may have asked yourself similar questions, and also like me you may have not made the most of the pain in your life. Make the most of it? Whoa, Katy, back that horse up. Make the most of pain? Strife? Discomforts? Someone's death? Losing a job? Working with a challenging co-worker? Divorce? Miscarriage? Feeling desperate? How are we to make the most of something like this?
I've been toying with some of these questions during the past two years as I've dealt with various challenges; most of these challenges associated in some way with my new career as an Ag teacher. There were brief moments of feeling desperate, not knowing how to deal with the situation, and definitely not understanding why I had been selected for this. What I failed to recognize through most of this though is that even in the most painful and challenging moments of my life God is still good and I can trust Him. It's not that I didn't know this truth, but I failed to let this truth permeate my perspective of each situation.
In Romans 8:31-32 God says, "What shall we say about such wondeful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't he also give us everything else?" Think about this-God didn't just lay down the life of His son and then expect us to deal with everything else on our own. No! As Paul states, won't He give us everything else too? Through every challenge we must be confident that God is still good and we can trust Him. The one man who was perfect and blameless still suffered and died (Jesus). If Jesus expected to suffer, we too can expect this. But...the big but...there is a purpose in our suffering. We may not always know what it is or why it is happening to us but we can be confident that God does. God is good and we can trust that He knows the purpose for every bit of suffering and strife in our lives. This is the eternal perspective that we must approach all things.
So, why am I talking about this today? Partly because this message struck a still-sensitive chord in my heart after two years of a specific challenge. Partly because I am still learning to make the most of pain and struggles in my life. And partly because I have been an observer of the grief of two of my good friends. I met Jake and Rebecca Mutz while living in Florida for graduate school. They now live in a suburb of Denver and last year they lost their daughter, Molly Ann, shortly after giving birth to her. Rebecca's pregnancy seemed perfect--full term, enjoyable. Even her labor and delivery went off without a hitch. But after rushing Molly to the NICU they found out that half of her brain had been affected by brain damage. The doctors told them they would need to make Molly comfortable until she passed away. Jake and Rebecca waited nine months to hold their precious daughter in their hands to spend the rest of their lives investing in hers. And then they were only able to spend roughly a week with her, making her comfortable, until she could go home to Jesus. Why? Why the Mutz's? Why Molly? Why this way? It just doesn't make sense. Jake and Rebecca still don't know the purpose of this, but they do have hope. Hope based on knowing that God is good and they can still trust Him.
I know it doesn't make it easier in the middle of your grief for someone to say that grief is good and can still have a purpose in our lives. Even if you believe in Jesus it's not easy to hear this. Sometimes having someone try to encourage you can be frustrating and angering. I pray that you have this confidence in God, that even in the midst of the most miserable circumstances in your life, that God is good and you can trust Him. I pray that your perspective is one permeated by God's truth and God's promises. Even in your suffering, we must trust that God is good and we can trust Hhim. We may not know the purpose of our suffering, or we may not even like the purpose, but we can know without a doubt that God is good and we can trust Him.
God bless you this day as you deal with the hard stuff.
If you would like to know or read more about Jake and Rebecca, check out Rebecca's blog: http://rebeccacooks.blogspot.com/. Rebecca just co-authored a book with her mom recounting her journey through this experience. Also, some info for this blog was taken from my notes on Jim Burgen's May 2 sermon at Flatirons Community Church.