God Never Wastes Our Pain
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
She'd betrayed me again. Hurt and anger simmered as I walked away counting to 10, then 20. Lord, this assignment is difficult! I feel like such a failure.
Feelings of shame filled me as I thought about my reaction toward my child who'd taunted me. Shouldn't I be above this? I asked myself. Shouldn't I be able to deal with rejection and deceit without getting angry? Why can't I rejoice in my trials like those first followers of Jesus?
That day, as always, God let me vent. As I presented my hurt and angry emotions to Him, He poured peace over my heart. My circumstances hadn't changed, but once again my heart was restored, and I felt encouraged.
God and I have been through this before. Despite my battered heart, this assignment to care for my wounded girl is mine.
You see, seven years ago, God added to our family through an international adoption. We didn't know the trauma our beautiful girls had experienced, but God did. And although some people's adoption story seems almost effortless, ours has come with a high cost. And for most of those seven years we have walked a painful journey with our daughters while sharing in their suffering.
In those seven years I've learned more about living with pain and helplessness than in all my previous years combined. I've also had to make some hard decisions about what I believe about God.
Mostly I've had to dig deep into whether or not I believe God can truly bring good out of all pain, or if my daughters' suffering and ours is just a waste.
In that process, I've come to believe that God will never waste our pain, but I can.
- When I'm not honest about the reality of how hard life is, I waste God's offer of peace.
- When I try to do things in my own strength, I waste God's offer of power.
- When I keep the pain to myself, and pretend everything is perfect, I waste opportunities to minister to others walking a similar path.
But when I confess my feelings of inadequacies, when I admit I'm helpless to heal the wounded ones in my care, I get to a place of reliance - and that's just where God wants me. For in this place of helplessness, God takes center stage. And when I let God lead, miracles start to happen.
Although I'd remove the pain and trauma with a snap of my fingers if I could, I know God is working even in this.
Especially in this.
I can talk about God's power all day long, but experiencing it changes me. It changes those around me.
Like Paul said in our key verse today, I find my way to being glad for this weakness in me. I'm not glad for sin or what caused the brokenness my daughters and I are facing. But I see pain for what it is - a condition of this fallen world, and a place for God to do His best work. The evil one's plans don't succeed, because the battle isn't mine anymore. God's power takes over when I step back.
This perspective shift helps me face another day. My circumstances haven't changed, but hope has seeped in through the cracks. No pain is wasted when I submit myself to God's plans. And we are seeing God's healing power in the lives of two precious girls.
Dear Lord, we've been here before, with me asking for relief. Help me to accept my weakness in this situation, and to allow Your power to take over. I admit I don't understand how this works, but I'm choosing to trust Your Word. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Think about a painful time in your life. How was God's power revealed during that time?
It's easy to allow painful circumstances to bring us to a place of bitterness. If you are in that place today, write down 10 things you are thankful for. As you review that list, praise God for His work in your life to bring you these things.
1 Corinthians 1:25, "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." (NIV)
1 Peter 2:20, "But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God." (NIV)