Since that day when God brought chaos (from my finite perspective) into my life, there have been words that I have been repeating to myself. Many words and truths from scripture to bring comfort and to confront myself and the lies that roll around in my head. The suffering that God is taking me through is revealing some ugly stuff that is inside the heart of this weary pilgrim.
My tendency is to judge myself. To bring guilt and shame, on myself. Yes, there was lots of guilt and shame this past summer that was directed at me from others, but then I add to that (at least this is my tendency) shame and guilt. At times even, I do better than my adversaries (sigh).
One thing that I do know is that in this time of suffering (and anytime we find ourselves in the mess of life) God is behind everything and is doing 10,000 things (as John Piper says often, meaning God is doing countless things to bring about his purpose). I may not know the “why” of the suffering, but I do know a few reasons that he gives in Scripture.
So the one phrase or words that I have been repeating to myself are…
“God is good. God does good. God will do good.”
“God is doing 10,000 things in this, most of which I do not see.”
“God most of all, wants my heart.”
God is quite radical. He will do (what seems to us) extreme things to bring people to a point of knowing him (and knowing and loving him deeper).
I am sure of this one thing. God wants to change me and draw me to himself. He will use suffering to accomplish that. He will use pain and grief to open my heart to the mercies that flow from his hand.
This morning he reminded me of this again.
Psalm 119 is shouting to me in fact! These verses below strike deeply in my heart and speak as clearly to me as if God was in the room with me now (oh wait, he is).
“This is my comfort in my affliction, that your word has revived me.” 119:50
“I have remembered your ordinances from of old, O Lord, and comfort myself.” 119:52
“You have dealt well with your servant, O Lord, according to your word. Teach me good discernment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments.” 119:65-66
“You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.” 119:68
“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn your statutes.” 119:71
“I know, O Lord, that your judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” 119:75
“May your compassion come to me that I may live…” 119:77
These truths are the truths that I need to realign my thinking and stop my self-propagating lies in their tracks.
If there is anything that I do know (and I may never know any more than this) about the season of suffering, it is that God is using this to change my heart and grow my love for him. If that is the only reason, its worth it!
My caring Father. I proclaim today that you are Lord over the chaos. You are not just in control, but your grip on everything is full of tender mercies and fatherly love. You are good even when the mess that I am in now makes no sense to me. Your faithfulness runs through everything that you do. The emotions that are flooding my soul need to be run through the grid of these truths. Thank you that you know my pain and can identify with my suffering. Thank you that you use these afflictions to draw me closer to you and that all of your dealings with me are right and just and good. You have not brought these sufferings into my life to destroy me, but to build me up. Yes, that building up requires a lot of demolition in my heart, but you know so well the necessity of that reconstruction. Give me life through your word, keep bringing your compassion and mercy my way so that I may live! Thank you that you have never (and will never) fail me my showing mercy and that you over and over revive me with the truth and power of your word!