Loss is something I have become very familiar with over the years.
First, it was my dad, then my younger sister six months later . . . then my mom.
I still remember each phone call I received, telling me I had yet again lost another family member. Within five short years, I became an orphan, the last one living in my childhood family photos. As if that season wasn’t already so much to bear, less than three years later I was blindsided by unfaithfulness in my marriage, which led to divorce, loss of the family business, and left me a single mom with two small children.
I’ve stood in the center of devastation and ashes and have pleaded with God to take it all away. I prayed hard for circumstances to change. All the death, darkness, loss, betrayal, and destruction have been overwhelming at times. It often felt like a nightmare, a cruel joke. Although my circumstances did not change in the way that I had prayed and pleaded for, the thing that did change was my perspective. Lifting my eyes up was not only a step toward healing, but it gave me the biblical perspective I needed regarding suffering. Our culture is so good at avoiding pain and we’ve got more resources than ever to help numb anything we don’t want to face. I had a lot of unlearning to do.
Montana is where I call home, just thirty minutes away from the entrance of Glacier National Park. At one point in my life, I wanted nothing to do with moving to Montana, but here I am raising up two arrows for Christ in the great outdoors. Since becoming a single mom, I’ve actually hiked and camped more than I have in my entire life. I haven’t always been the “outdoorsy” type, but I love that we aren’t forever tied to who we’ve always been. We can grow and evolve, even in uncomfortable spaces.
On my most recent hike, on a trail that I had never been on before (and later learned that this area had been burned by fire just a few years ago), I heard a whisper from the Lord. As I was in awe of my surroundings, I was gently reminded that, just as pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and spectacular lakes were created to showcase the glory of our Creator, our Heavenly Father, I was too. And so are you. Everything about us points back to Him, especially our strength in the midst of life’s storms. When we are weak, He is strong. He brings about beauty from ashes.
We display the power of God in our weakness as we walk in the strength He gives us to endure what comes our way. Eliminating our weakness and pain is what we may prefer, but there’s something about seeing someone rejoice in tribulation that glorifies the active work of the Lord, before our very eyes. The devil can’t take us out, but he tries his hardest to wear us out. We have a strength for that. We have a grace for that.
Similarly to how Paul asked three times for his thorn to be removed, Jesus prayed in Luke 22:42, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Yet not my will but yours be done.” These verses have brought comfort to me in my seasons of loss. We are not alone in our suffering. Our prayers may not be answered the way we hope them to be and our suffering may include pain, but it also comes equipped with a purpose.
Purpose is what God is building in our lives and often He uses our pain to develop our character. Trials and tribulations will come, but may we be found steadfast in the testing of our faith. Our afflictions are never in vain. Our pain is never wasted.
What if we began to pray big prayers asking for God’s purpose to be revealed in our pain instead of praying for the pain to be eliminated?
What if we focused more on the Healer and the healing than the hurt?
The Lord is good and faithful, even when life and others aren’t.
As we experience loss upon loss, ask the Lord to align your heart with His will for your life. May we position ourselves to be a recipient of the Lord’s favor and recognize His grace upon grace.
Week 4 Challenge:
This week, spend time writing down times God answered your prayers (as many as you can think of). Share these testimonies with your family and friends to encourage them to continue to have faith when they are waiting on God. By sharing your testimony you will help them see that God truly does hear and answer our prayers.
Week 4 Reading Plan
Week 4 Memory Verse
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