A few months ago I read an article that is called “If God is With Me, Why Did This Happen?” I did a blog post about it. If you would like to read it you can click here. This blog post will be going off of the link I shared above. If you would like to read the article you can click the link above and then there is a link to the article. In the article, Vaneetha who is the author, mentioned a book she wrote. The book is called “The Scars That Have Shaped Me”. It is an amazing book and I highly recommend that you read it. I will be talking about some parts of the book that stuck out to me. There is so much in the book and what I talk about will just be a brief snapshot of all that there is in the book.
Suffering is a strange, dark companion; but a companion, nonetheless. It’s an unwelcome visitor; but still, a visitor.
-Joni Eareckson Tada
When Scars Speak
John 20:19-20 says “Jesus came and stood among them and said to them ‘Peace Be With You.’ When he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” Jesus didn’t need to have scars on his body, but He chose to keep his scars there so that the disciples could identify Him. His scars represent His love and our salvation. Just like Jesus had to die on the cross and His scars represent our Salvation by Him doing that, if we are open about our scars we have (physical or not physical scars) and what we have been through people will recognize us that way as well. In Christ, we are conquers of what we have been through, and we have been able to overcome it by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Vaneetha wondered why she had to struggle her whole life. She flipped through her bible one day asking God why she has had a life of suffering and came across John 9:1-3 which says “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.'” The disciples were focusing on the cause of the man’s disability, but Jesus spoke of the reason behind it. The reason this man was blind was not because Jesus was punishing him or even a random thing that had happened. This had been planned by God all along. This man was blind because the works of God would be displayed in him. Our suffering has a purpose: to bring glory to God.
God uses us to comfort one another with the comfort that we ourselves have received from God. It is both a privilege and a responsibility. And as we tell others of God’s faithfulness in the midst of trial, it reminds us afresh that God will never forsake us. Though we may walk through the valley of the shadow of death we will never walk alone.
-Vaneetha Randal Risner
God’s Presence Revealed
John 11:1-6 says “Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha…. So the sisters sent to him, saying, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God so that the Son of God may be glorified though it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” Jesus could have gone to heal Lazarus right away, He could have healed Lazarus from where we was in the moment, but if Jesus wouldn’t have let Lazarus die and then bring him back to life, Mary and Martha wouldn’t have had as strong of a faith in Jesus without suffering so that they needed to draw closer to Him in that time of desperation. Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus enough to let them suffer so they could experience His comfort. Jesus loved them enough so they could learn to walk by faith.
When Life Stops Making Sense
Scripture never mandates that we are to constantly act upbeat. God wants us to come to Him in truth and because of that, the Bible doesn’t whitewash the raw emotions of its writers as they cry out to God in anguish, fear and frustration when life ceases to makes sense. People like Jeremiah, Job, Habakkuk and David have all poured out their honest feelings of sadness and disappointment to God. Here are some examples, Jeremiah 15:18, Job 7:11-16, Habakkuk 1:2, Psalm 13:1-2 and Psalm 22:1-2. The Bible is honest so that means we can be honest as well. We can complain and cry knowing that God can handle anything. The Lord wants us to talk to Him, pour out our hearts and thoughts because He knows them already. We can experience joy after we have acknowledged our sorrows. Here are some examples, Psalm 13:6, Psalm 22:26, Habakkuk 3:17-18, Job 42:2 and Jeremiah 17:7.
Not Looking Back
Don’t look back on the past and assume it was perfect. The new road that you are on my be bumpy and twisty, but it is the path that God has chosen for you. Laura Story’s sister told her “I think the detour you are on is actually the road.” This new road is the only road worth taking. If we constantly look back at the old road, we will miss the great things we encounter on the new path.
Praying For just Enough
In 1 Kings 17, there is the story of the widow, Zarephath. Every day she is given just enough oil and flour, but no more. She simply has to trust that the Lord will provide for her and her son or she will starve. She has utter dependence on God, and this is a beautiful example of how God provides for us. Just like the widow, we have to trust God that he will provide us with enough, for each day. Whether that is enough food, or strength or etc, you can fill in the blank. In the kingdom of God, dependence is always better than self-sufficiency. Self-suffiency can lead to pride and selfishness. Dependence can lead to humility and intamicy with the Lord. Dependence will yield good fruit from our lives. When you depend on the Lord, He will give you what is best for you.
The greatest good suffering can do for me is to increase my capacity for God.
-Joni Eareckson Tada
Rain for a Reason
Joel 2:23 says “Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness”. When you see God’s perspective of your trials, you will look at them very differently. You will see what they are producing in you, how they are shaping you, and how they bring glory to God. Through trials you can see God’s faithfulness.
Choose Your Focus
How we view our life is dependant on what we choose to focus on. Some angles it could look like a mess, but from a completely opposite angle it could look beautiful, but you have to the willing to look past the obvious.
What if your inner most longings are never met? And what if your nightmares come true? If none of your aspirations happen, your health fails, etc, is God enough?
Happily Ever After
Randy Alcorn says “‘They all lived happily ever after’ is not merely a fairy tale. It’s the blood-bought promise of God for all who trust the gospel.” God’s blood-bought promise for those who trust in the gospel is that we will live happily ever after in heaven. This is an astounding assurance and a glorious future.
Continue to trust God through it all!