When going through very difficult times, believers might ask other believers, “Why does God allow suffering?” This is a valid question. In response, believers might share:
“Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.” Hebrews 2:18 NLT
Believers might then say what we are going through is nothing like what Jesus or Job suffered–my goodness, Job lost his children, wealth, health, friends, and unity with his wife to name a few of his problems.
Both of these responses are Truth, but what about the suffering God endured?
Maybe a different question to ponder to arrive at the answer to our question is, “Why does God allow Himself to suffer?”
God planned to have His Son crushed, and it was called a “good plan”:
“But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief [. . .] and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.”
from Isaiah 53:10 NLT
It sounds like an extremely painful plan full of suffering. How is suffering good? Jesus died so that “When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins” (Isaiah 53:11 NLT).
The suffering of Jesus resulted in believers being forgiven–Thank You, Jesus! Even with the knowledge God had of the outcome of His Son’s suffering, I am sure it was painful to tell Jesus, “No” three times when Jesus asked the Father to remove the cup of suffering:
“He told them, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.’ Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, ‘Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!’ Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, ‘My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.’ When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again.” Matthew 26:38-44 NLT
As if denying His Son’s request three times was not painful enough, the Father then watched His Son being tortured, beaten, and ultimately murdered. The Father had to turn away from the Son when the sins of the world were placed on Jesus:
“At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?'” Matthew 27:46 NLT
Why does God allow Himself to suffer?
Jesus suffered and died to forgive our sins out of love so that we can live with Him in heaven. God crafted the good plan to crush Jesus out of love for us, His lost sheep, so we can be reunited with God. God denied the prayer requests of Jesus out of love for us. Jesus prayed, “Thy will be done” out of love for the Father.
God is all-powerful and all-knowing, and He loves us, so why does He allow suffering?
The short answer is, He loves us. When we suffer, we draw closer to Him. That is a goal of our time on Earth, to draw closer to God every day. Suffering and trials result in us doing that.
Why do we need suffering to draw closer to Him? Human nature, for “No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God” (Romans 3:11 NLT).
Can you recall a time when there was a desperate need in your life-–illness, job loss, death, etc.? The way you prayed during that time probably looks very different from the way you pray daily.
Drawing closer to God every day is what is best for us. God loves us and wants the best for us.
We lift up all who are suffering. Abandonment. Sickness. Depression. Addiction. Unemployment. Abuse. Grief. And other burdens. May this be the day they draw closer to You. May this be the day they feel immersed in Your love. May this be the day they rise up from the burden and feel Your joy. Your peace. Your love.
The life that I have known for over two decades has been completely blown up – some of it by choice, some not. It is interesting that God did not change or remove a few pieces of my life, but all of it. Every piece has been gutted. So that leads me to ask, “Why does God wipe a slate clean?”
Whenever I have a question on my mind for God, I look to the Scriptures to find answers in both the New Testament and the Old Testament. He is a God who does not change (Hebrews 13:8), so the examples we see in the Scriptures apply today, just as when they were written.
The first example I thought of in the Bible was Jesus. He wiped our slates clean with forgiveness when He died on the cross. Why did he wash us clean of our sins? We are commanded in both the Old and New Testaments:
“‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
from Matthew 22:37-39 NLT
In this context, our slates are wiped clean to focus solely on God and loving others.
A different example, found in the Old Testament, is when God commanded Abraham:
“Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.”
from Genesis 12:1 NLT
The objective of God wiping Abraham’s slate clean was to bless him and all families of the Earth to come from him:
“I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:2-3 NLT
Sometimes God wipes our slates clean to prepare us for blessing. The trouble with God removing pieces of our lives is that as soon as a relationship concludes or a job ends or an illness arrives, we want the answer or the next step right away. He may not provide that insight immediately, though. He may want us to rest in Him or learn to trust Him more or refine the skill of remaining joyful during trials:
“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” Psalm 46:10 NLT
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” Proverb 3:5 NLT
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” James 1:2 NLT
The goal of every Christian is found in Matthew 6:33, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (NLT).
This means seeking Jesus, who is the Word of God, the Path to God, and the Giver of the Holy Spirit. Seeking first the Kingdom of God enables all else to fall into place. We are to seek Him and live righteously, and He will give us everything we need (not everything we want).
This is what we do while waiting for God to reveal our next steps. We focus on seeking Him and drawing closer to Him by spending more daily time with Him, more daily worship of Him, and more time listening to Him. James 4:8 says, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you” (NLT). Drawing close to God also means we will hear the Holy Spirit clearer, which is what we ultimately want and need.
In order to obtain our next steps after God has wiped our slates clean, we must be still and listen as we draw closer to God. He has a plan for renewing or changing our lives.
With the world we live in now, it is critical that you know that nothing can separate you from God’s love. Nothing and nobody at all, ever (Romans 8:38).
Once you believe in Jesus, you no longer belong to the dark side – the battle changes. Before you believed in Jesus, the battle was to keep you in the dark, so to speak.
Now, you stand in a place of victory. It is the victory that Jesus won for you. So, the dark side changes their approach because they no longer have you on their team. They want to keep you from enjoying all that is already yours through Jesus’ victory over sin, death, and hell. But fear not, God did not leave you without instructions on what to do when the dark side tries to distract you or hurt you or invade your thoughts.
“Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:11-17 NLT
These verses are saying that people and situations are not your enemy; your enemy is real and is not flesh and blood. The enemy is the opposite of Jesus, who is full of life and love. Just like anyone in battle, there is armor or equipment we need to use.
The first is the belt of Truth. The belt was critical, for it held weapons and enabled warriors to defend themselves when under attack. We fight with Truth, and it is one of the ways we defend ourselves.
The second is the body armor of righteousness. You keep this as a “covering” to protect yourself against attacks. It is not how good you are. It is God’s righteousness, so you protect yourself standing on the victory Jesus already won.
The shoes of peace mean wherever you go, you carry the peace of God with you. No matter what is going on, you have the peace of God. Not only do we need to anchor to His peace, but we are also to carry that peace with us and share with the lost why we have peace. You will go through many storms in your life and when you remember that you have His peace, you will look “different” to others as you navigate storms.
The shield of faith is what protects you. You must never let go of your faith. No matter what bad thoughts or bad things come your way, you use your faith to protect you like a shield. Believe in God and His love for you.
The helmet of salvation is to protect your mind with the knowledge that you are saved by Jesus. Nobody can take that from you. Once you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are His. Period.
The last piece of armor is different. This weapon we are to wield. When we are attacked, we have all of the defensive weapons to use. This last one is an offensive weapon. It is the Word of God, and it is a sword. This means many things, but we will focus on just one. When Jesus was dealing with the devil in the desert, Jesus kept saying, “It is written.” Every time the devil would say something, Jesus would say Scripture back and speak the truth (Luke 4:1-13, Matthew 4:1-11). He was teaching us how to use the Word of God like a weapon. When you hear lies, listen to the truth and speak the truth, which is the Word of God. What a different world we would have if Eve had just stuck with what God said when the devil showed up to tempt her.
You may be thinking, how do I get these weapons and know what to use when? Reading the Bible daily equips you. It teaches you all these things, and then you have what you need when you need it. You will be amazed how Scriptures will just pop into your head when you need them. This is the Holy Spirit at work within you. He will even bring Scriptures to your mind that you have not yet read or did not quite grasp when you did read them. He speaks only truth.
You have everything you need to push the bad away from your heart and mind. You just need to remember that you have everything you need – that is the hard part. It is something I struggle with a lot. I allow the bad stuff to creep into my head when I know it is not true, and I know what is true. That is the battle that people who believe in Jesus face. Our souls are safe, but it is our hearts and minds that can still be distracted from the amazing blessings we have been given. So, we need to stay aware of what we are allowing into our hearts and minds. The enemy will constantly send fiery darts at us and attack our hearts and minds. It is not a sin to have a “bad” thought, but it can become a sin depending on what you do with it. Do you take it captive, as we are commanded in 2 Corinthians 10:5, or do you entertain it?
Thank God that He has armed us with these weapons, outlined for us what they are, and demonstrated Jesus using them. He also has given us the Holy Spirit, the Author of truth and our Helper. As we endure many trials in this life, we must focus on what God has given us to defend ourselves and stand at the ready for when the attacks come, not if they come.
Being a single parent/guardian is not easy. For starters, you are the spiritual leader of the home. You are the sole provider for the children God blessed you with. There is a lot of pressure to keep food on the table, clothing on their backs, and a roof over their heads. You cannot just “take a break” when you need one. The more children you have, the less time you have to yourself – including trying to shower or get any sleep.
Please do not misunderstand me, I am incredibly grateful to God for my children. Throughout the years of abuse endured at the hands of their father, my kids were the only things to keep me going. And even more so since we left their father.
My kids are each funny, full of laughter and have different perspectives. One of my children has multiple cognitive disabilities. She has taught me more than I could ever teach her. The way she looks at life and how she processes information is incredible to me. I consider each of my children a gift and her “disabilities” are also gifts to our family.
While you might feel alone raising kids, I have learned that I am not alone. Jesus is with me (Deuteronomy 31:6). He is the One who holds me at night when I am scared. He is the One to whom I bring problems and fears. Daily, I pray earnestly for His wisdom to help me raise the kids in a manner that glorifies Him. Through the storms of life – illness, tragedy or job loss – we simply must trust in Him.
If you are a single parent/guardian, know that you are not alone. God is right there with you, co-parenting. You may not always feel that way, but He is. God loaned us His kids, we are the stewards of His children. He loves them more than we do. We must trust in His love and provision for the kids and for us. If you are raising kids alone because of the choices of others, forgive those people. Forgiveness does not mean you agree with what they did, but instead you are freeing yourself from their control over you (Colossians 3:13).
We moved out of the house to escape an incredibly toxic environment. We no longer have interactions with their father except when he reaches out demanding money. We are surrounded by thoughtful neighbors, and God has certainly blessed us! If you are not a single parent/guardian, please consider making dinner for a household that is. Or in these times of COVID, a gift card for pizza or other food delivery would be incredibly appreciated. In our new place, we have a neighbor who cooks for us. I am grateful to him for giving me a “night off,” so to speak, where I do not have to cook. We have another neighbor that has given the kids gift cards for pizza delivery.
If you know someone who is a single parent/guardian, please pray about how to help. Maybe place a gift card (for pizza delivery or for a grocery store) anonymously in their mailbox. Or perhaps cooking them dinner if everyone feels comfortable during COVID. Babysitting is a bit tougher depending on how well they know you and COVID, etc. Offer to pick something up for them if you are running to the grocery store. I can tell you that I have another neighbor that does that for me, and he is a God-send.
I come from a long line of single moms. We are stubborn and independent, which is what has protected our children through the generations. If that is you, please consider this. Some of the people that help me are saved and some are not. Perhaps me accepting their help will pave the way to have a conversation about Jesus. God sends people to help His children. While it may be hard to accept help, pray about it and see if God wants to use you to speak into that person’s life.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 NIV
2020 was a year of loss and hurt for most people. Between the pandemic, the economy, job loss, illness, and the inability to see loved ones, 2020 was a mess.
As believers, we cling to the fact that God is in control. Everything that enters our lives passes through the fingers of our Lord. So what are we to learn from the pandemic and its impacts?
It seems many people believe when the calendar flips to January 1, 2021, all will return to “normal.” At the risk of seeming negative, I think we must seek a new normal. The current generation of 2, 3, 4, and 5-year-olds have been taught not to touch each other, share toys, or sit with each other. They have been taught hugging is not a good idea, nor is touching others at all.
I am not saying I disagree with what we have to do as we battle a pandemic, but it does indicate possible future tendencies of that generation. This was not just one country of kids taught this, but the global population of kids. What does this mean for these future leaders? This remains to be seen.
We have re-wired ourselves and our children to not touch or hug, except certain people that are “safe.” There are people that have not felt human touch in almost a year. For some, they are grateful to be left alone. For others, it is a struggle. Humans are created for touch. We are created to love each other and comfort each other. There are so many verses that command us to love each other. Here are just a few:
“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” John 15:12 NLT
“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.” 1 John 4:11 NLT
“Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” 1 Peter 3:8 NLT
We have a choice, as a nation and as a people. Do we invest our time and energy into arguing about masks, politics, and myriads of other things or do we follow the Bible and love each other?
I do not have to agree with you to love you. Jesus loved everyone, even those who murdered Him. He asked God to forgive them as they drained the blood out of our Lord and Savior.
“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.’ And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.” Luke 23:34 NLT
That is our bar to strive for – love everyone. He loved those that caused His death and were gambling for His material possessions as He prayed for them to be forgiven.
Snow and I talked about grudges recently during a devotional. There have been many people who have inflicted or spoken hurt into our lives. We are faced with a choice, just like all believers, hold a grudge or love.
The way that God has taught me to release grudges, hurt, anger, or resentment is to pray for that person. Pray for the person to be forgiven and blessed. Regardless of your political affiliation or how you feel about wearing masks, pray. We need to pray for each other and we need to tell people we are praying for them. Pray for the future generations that are being taught not to touch. Pray for the neighbors and loved ones that are suffering from loss, loneliness, job loss or anxiety. Pray for them by name and tell them you are praying for them.
The great thing about God is that He always knows whom you are talking about. You can pray for the “lady down the street whose name I do not know” and God has her. He knows who she is and what she needs. Drop a note in her mailbox: “I am praying for you.” You do not need to sign it or even interact with her. This is a spiritual touch. We must find new ways to touch people to show love. Prayer is one big way. Telling people we are praying for them is another way to show love.
There have been many analyses over 2020 about what the world needs: Vaccines, herd immunity, economic recovery, and so on. We need prayer. We need to pray and tell people we are praying for them.
“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT
The above verse tells us a list of things to do now and in 2021. For those of us who feel hurt, confused, or unsure about what to do – look to this verse and love.
Love however you can, whoever you can, whenever you can.
During this time of limited physical touch, we must find new ways to show love using technology, handwritten notes, or “smiling” with our eyes when our real smiles are hidden behind masks.
Be humble with those around you by showing patience, kindness, and sensitivity. If you have been untouched by the virus, praise God! Please keep in mind that most of the people around you have been touched by it in some way or other.
Instead of losing patience with people, pray for them. It takes literally two seconds to lift someone up: “Lord, I pray that person drives better” or “Lord, I pray that person becomes nicer.” Seek His face on their behalf and pray.
The process of obtaining a divorce has taken a very long time. During that time, God has moved in miraculous ways; He sent believers into my path at the most unexpected times and at the most unexpected places. For example, as various bank employees told me how my former spouse stole my identity and I started to cry, they quoted Scripture to me. That happened on four different occasions at three different financial institutions. Words of faith, hope, and love were shared with me by complete strangers. God is always going before us and walking with us and being our rear guard too.
“You will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” Isaiah 52:12 NIV
These are Scriptures, not my opinion or an empty hope.
I have seen Him move in less obvious ways too. He was very hard at work when I was struggling the most and wandering in my desert, although I did not see it.
One day during my quiet time, I heard God telling me to approach a co-worker and share the Gospel. I had no idea what this person’s values were, let alone religious beliefs. So I started to pray for the Spirit to show me the right time and way to reach him.
I enlisted the help of a friend of mine, who is a prayer warrior, during this time to ensure that two of us were praying. Over the next few weeks, I prayed and was shown how to approach my co-worker in a way that would be embraced.
As someone who loves to share the Gospel, I have witnessed many reactions from others; everything from acceptance to rejection and in between. The more you share the Gospel, the more experiences you have that you can apply to future situations.
I asked my co-worker if he believed in a higher power. He said yes. I then asked what faith he was. He responded Baptist. I have learned that when someone responds with a denomination, we should not assume they know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. More times than not, they are not actively practicing or that was how they were raised and so on.
It is critical to ensure they know Jesus as Lord. To do that, I ask one key question. The question that immediately polarizes the conversation. There is no gray space:
“If you were to die tonight, where would you go and why?”
I have never seen this question fail to guide the rest of the conversation. Either the answer is something like, “Heaven, because of Jesus” or not.
My co-worker and I had been friends for about two years by the time I asked him “The Question.” We each were married and pretending that all was well in our lives. We each were burying pain. We each were experiencing and ignoring similar suffering. We each were being abused by our spouses, in different ways but nonetheless abused. We each stayed for different reasons. Mine was the kids and his was because he felt trapped and hoped not to live much longer.
We knew none of this about the other when God burdened me to ask “The Question.”
At that point in my marriage, I was channeling 100% of my energy into my kids. So what if my spouse treated me the way he did? The kids were fine. Not true, but I believed it at the time. Kids see more than you think they do.
I prayed and looked for the opportune time to ask my co-worker, “If you were to die tonight, where would you go and why?”
Ever since I was saved, I love sharing the Gospel. It is mind blowing to me that the Creator of the universe chooses to use sinners like me to share Jesus with people. The most meaningful moments in my life are having the honor of watching the veil be pierced, the scales fall from eyes and people realize their desperate need for Jesus. They physically change before your eyes, whether they start to cry, drop to their knees or just grab you and hold on. It is an incredible privilege. Sharing Jesus is what we are left here to do (Matthew 28:19-20). You interact with eternity when you share the Good News with people.
My co-worker’s reply was, “Heaven, I hope. Because I’m a good person?” No mention of Jesus.
Over a series of conversations and emails, I explored the Gospel with my co-worker. One Sunday afternoon, I was incredibly burdened to enter a time of intense prayer for him, though I had no idea why. I had never felt like that, as if the Holy Spirit was telling me to pray as if my co-worker’s life depended on it.
So I did.
My co-worker recently recalled:
For years – most of my marriage, in fact – I had been repeating the words “I wish I was dead” inside my head for most of almost every day. Despite these negative thoughts, I had not often seriously contemplated ending my life on my own. It was simply a wish, a desire for it all to end. Then, I wouldn’t be trapped anymore.
That Sunday afternoon was different. Actually, that whole weekend had been different. By the end of it, I was devising creative methods to kill myself with objects I had on hand. The thing is, I didn’t really understand why I wanted to end it all. There were no logical reasons. Not even illogical ones.
I was blessed in that JC had recently started talking to me about Jesus. I had started reading the Bible. Knowing a little about my anxiety, she had introduced me to a local church that also streamed its services online. Many of those early sermons had spoken to me. On this Sunday, I was hoping for the same. I needed to hear something to get the dark thoughts out of my head. Instead of a real service, though, it was only what I call an “infomercial” for the church’s community groups. Not helpful. At all.
Though she had no idea what I was going through, I prayed JC would have some words for me that would help, and I promptly fell asleep in the middle of the afternoon. When I awoke, there was an email from her, along with a link to an older sermon by a different pastor.
When I went upstairs to my little office to watch it, this sermon gave me some perspective about the gift that is life. Yet, I still felt in a dark place. I revealed some of this to JC when replying to her email.
Once my co-worker shared with me what was happening, I realized that while I was crying out to Jesus on his behalf, he was wrestling with spiritual warfare. He was not yet a believer, so God had sent me to battle for him – to pray for his very soul.
I emailed him back with a high-level overview of spiritual warfare and gave him some suggestions, including Scriptures to read. My co-worker then accepted Jesus while I was still in fervent prayer. I did not receive his email with the news right away, though, as I had been burdened by the Holy Spirit to remain in focused prayer.
While he had been wrestling with his faith, I had literally been crying out to Jesus and spending hours in prayer for him. I have never been that focused on anyone for that long in prayer without knowing why.
After I concluded my time of prayer and worship, I picked up my phone and there was the email from my co-worker sharing his decision to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
My co-worker recalled:
JC had referenced a number of verses in her email about spiritual warfare to help me, including some in John. As I was flipping through my Bible, I could not find John. I was still a newbie at all of this, but I had never once had a problem finding a book before, including John. I even went to the index, and yet still found myself looking on the wrong page.
I realized something did not want me to read those references, so I focused my mind until, of course, they were there – as they had been all along.
After that, I knew that I had to accept Jesus in my heart. All the while, unbeknownst to me, JC was praying for me. If I ever had any doubts about the power of prayer, that Sunday evening abolished them.
Even after I was born again, very dark images tried to enter my mind that night as I was falling asleep – right in that time where you are not quite awake but not quite asleep. But I prayed them away. . .twice. . .and was able to have a restful sleep. It was all so very fascinating to me to realize that the world worked in a completely different way than I ever thought.
Ever since those hours when I was praying for him and he was battling spiritually with his belief in Jesus, my co-worker and I have become what I will call “spiritually entangled.”
God blesses obedience. My co-worker, Snow, heeded the call of Jesus, and I prayed when I felt led to. Being spiritually entangled is an amazing gift that I struggle to explain. We hear each other’s thoughts, we feel what the other feels – physically and emotionally – and we each help the other grow in Jesus daily.
Even though we are no longer co-workers, we communicate daily. We read Bible plans and pray together via text or over the phone. We challenge each other to have faith in Jesus, despite trials.
Presently, Snow is my best friend, and we are each unmarried now and working on healing from the abusive marriages we endured. Years later, we still hear each other’s thoughts and feel what the other feels. The more we pray and read the Bible together, the more the spiritual entanglement grows.
God was moving in mighty ways while I was wandering in my desert enduring many trials during my divorce. God was also moving in mighty ways as Snow and I battled for his soul.
Jesus was aligning the lives of two wounded butterflies to cross paths with each other. Our paths are permanently intertwined – one that would join Jesus in helping me heal so I can soar.
“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.” Isaiah 58:8 NIV
However your marriage ended and for whatever reason, there is life afterwards. God has plans for you, there are many, many verses about this.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 NLT
God is not done with you here, or He would have called you Home. Tell yourself that as many times as necessary until you believe it. He uses everyone who is willing to be used.
For me, the actual process of getting divorced resembled a daily, mental, emotional, and spiritual beating due to the choices of my former spouse. Regardless of the choices of others, however, you can control yourself – how you react or not. It is critical to grow in your relationship with Jesus. This is true whether you are divorced or not; consider this the mission of our days. We must be close to Jesus so we can fulfill the command He gave us.
“Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'” Matthew 28:18-20 NLT
How we can go and tell others about Him if we do not know Him? Put as much as energy as you can into knowing Jesus – pray, read the Bible, fast, seek Him with all of your heart. Disregard what others say and do, and keep your eyes squarely on Jesus. He goes before you, walks alongside you, and goes behind you.
“You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.” Psalm 139:5 NLT
“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT
I was a wounded butterfly, very wounded. In every sense of the word: physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, mentally, and any other way you can contemplate. In many ways, I allowed my spouse to take who I was created to be in God and mold me into what he wanted me to be instead. I own that – I needed to seek deep within to begin to see the places where I put my spouse above who I am in God.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24 NLT
Once I started to see, I fell into the arms of Jesus and asked Him to please take over every piece of my life – and I had to mean it. I faltered, there were and are times that I seized back decision-making. When that happens, the quicker I realize I have done it and turn it back over to Jesus, the better off I am.
God has been working on my heart and my kids – healing us and restoring us to who we buried to appease my former spouse. God is bringing back who we are in Him and highlighting new pieces of ourselves that He created. It has been freeing to give Him the chisel and step out of the way.
The way God works is beyond human comprehension. Sometimes, we can figure out what He is doing and other times, not. I believe in the Bible, so I firmly believe that no matter what is happening to me, God will use it for my good.
Yes, I was a severely wounded butterfly, but that never changed the fact that I am His masterpiece.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT
At my most wounded points, I kept fighting to keep my eyes on Jesus – many times, that meant collapsing on the floor in a puddle of tears. But He is always there. He is always before our eyes.
Focus on Him.
He has worked on me and is still working on me. He has repaired my wings and sent me on new journeys that I never could have imagined. He has used me and my story to help others in ways that I could not have envisioned in my wildest dreams. If you seek first the Kingdom of God above all else, He will move in your life. Give Him everything – your wounds, your hurts, your shame, your secrets, your regrets, whatever – give it to Him. I now have blessings that I can barely describe in words.
In a future post, I will share one of the most incredible blessings Jesus gave me. One I was definitely not seeking. He sent another wounded butterfly to help me soar even higher in Jesus.