Etched by God: Finding beauty in the pain

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For those of you who don’t know, my husband resigned from his pastoral job last July and we are still in the thick of transition. We moved our family from the West Coast back to the Midwest and are currently living with my parents. The reality that we have hit the year marker is truly daunting. However, the Lord has met us deep in the trenches of a messy but beautiful journey and for that we are so grateful.

There are countless ways we have seen the Lord’s grace and goodness and I’d love to share what He has been laying on my heart lately.

I loved Stephanie’s post in June when she beautifully addressed the need for bringing our kids into the process of trials and yet still seeing God’s goodness through it. She gave 6 steps to implement this practice with our children. If you haven’t read her post I strongly encourage you to head on over and read it here.

I want to share with you how we have brought our own girls into the process of transition and pain and the impact I have seen through that.

A couple years ago through some dear friends, we were given the advice to bring our girlies into the process of transition alongside of us. We felt strongly as a couple that this was the right choice for our family. That meant they could pray along with us and not be surprised by any sudden decisions or moves. We were all over that!

As the first “family meeting” drew near we began to feel some apprehension of their capacity to deal with change. We feared their response in that and how it would affect them. At the time they were only 8 and 10.

We saw first hand how their perfect little paradigm was suddenly broken wide open. There were questions, tears and disappointment. Yet, they both acknowledged that they were happy to know what we were thinking and able to be in on the process of a potential move.

As we continued to process with them and the time drew near to let them know we were moving, it was difficult to say the least. But through their pain and disappointment we also saw a depth of understanding and a renewed sense of belonging to our family and calling.

Fast-forward a year later and we have experienced much heartbreak on a living/emotional/stability level. We have continued to process through each potential job that has come up with them. We have daydreamed about what it would be like, even visited a number of different places as a family to then have the Lord either close the door or give us much unrest and we shut the door.

The most recent job prospect was probably the worst. We had earnestly prayed about whether this was God’s place for our family. We had visited and fallen in love with the area, church, people and culture. It was down to two candidates: my husband and someone else. This was a five-month process, so as a family, a lot of dreaming and imagining our life there had taken place.

There were also plenty of opportunities to talk of God’s plan and His goodness, even if that included us not getting the job. (Funny how that constant reminder for them was a daily balm and reminder for my own heart.) We knew and took to heart Jeremiah 29:11:

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

So in that, we explained to them, even if this wasn’t what God had, that meant He was protecting our family and had some better place for us.

When we received the call they had chosen the other candidate, my thoughts instantly settled around my girls. When we told them, there was nothing to prepare my heart for the pain that ensued. Literal wailing and tears from one daughter and deep, painful crying from the other. My heart immediately broke into more pieces than I knew possible. However, as we processed, cried and prayed, it drew our family even closer together.

As I have reflected on all of this since, in the recesses of my heart I have heard a continual whisper, “Should we really have let them enter into this process so deeply?” I saw the tremendous pain and the weight of trying to comprehend something that Mark and I were even having a hard time grasping. But in that loss, the Lord began to show me purpose in the pain. I started to see the etches it was beginning to leave on their lives.

As I saw those etches more deeply engraved, the Lord showed me that they were beginning to take shape in a tragic but beautiful way.  On one hand their innocence was being taken away and yet on the other hand God had marked them.

He had marked them for greatness.

He had marked their lives and their own journey through this trial. He was enfolding our journey into their sweet little lives. I cannot wait to see how God will continue to use it and transform their lives to impact others. Because of their pain and depth of understanding, something so beyond their years, I believe part of the impact they will have is a greater sensitivity to others and their pain. They will be able to speak in and come alongside someone else from a place of pain they have experienced.  

Nothing is wasted with the Lord. Nothing.

The Lord tells us in His Word that we will have momentary affliction but to not lose heart, for it is nothing compared to the weight of glory that will be revealed to us.

We memorized the following verse as a family about a month before we knew the outcome of that job and it was life-giving for us.

“We are afflicted in every way but not crushed, perplexed but not driven to despair, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

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I don’t know the journey you are on, the trials and pain that you have lived or continue to live, but one thing I do know is that the Lord has paved the way.

If I can encourage you in any way, let it be this: God knows our hearts and our children’s hearts and He sees our pain. He was there before it all started, calling us by name. He is present with us now, hiding us in the shelter of His wings. He goes before us and He is already at the finish line, cheering us on.  He takes the broken and creates the most beautiful masterpiece if we allow Him access.

Don’t be afraid to bring your children into the painful aspects of life; through it they will experience a depth of joy that is unbridled, for they will have experienced pain as well.  God orchestrates circumstances in our lives that we cannot always comprehend, and yet through His grace and goodness He transforms our lowly hearts and makes us stronger because of them.

“Lord Jesus, as we continue on the path you have for us, whether in a good season or a hard, help us to know that you are there through it all. You will never leave us or forsake us. Give us the courage and capacity to share the painful things with our children. Lord, through pain you give us a greater taste of your joy. Lord Jesus will you strengthen our hearts and minds through the process and transform our lives. Jesus give us all we need, You alone are able. In your mighty name we pray, amen.”

Posted on October 5, 2016 and filed under Building Your Faith.