He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,…
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair…
for the display of his splendor.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.”
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
When you are struggling and life is confusing, it’s important to remember that God wastes nothing. Every painful event, every hurtful comment, every time of doubt or fear or worry or stress will be used by Him to create something new and beautiful.
Like a masterful Artist, He will use all of your life—all that is broken, messy, useless, ugly, cast-aside, forgotten, damaged, twisted—everything you offer—to make a stunning display for His glory.
There is purpose in your pain. It may be hidden for a long time, but know it’s there even if you can’t see it. Nothing is arbitrary or accidental.
Your scars, in the gentle hands of Jesus, can be used to bring His healing to others. Use what you have learned from God during your hard times to help someone you care about who is struggling to stand strong.
I will bless you…and you will be a blessing to others.
You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
Matthew 5:4-6, The Message
God’s Got a MUCH Bigger Plan
Joseph is the classic example of unfair and unjustified suffering being used to unfold God’s great plan. He was sold by his own brothers, carted off as a slave to a foreign country, falsely accused, wrongly imprisoned, and forgotten by the only friend he had.
But God needed a good place for His people to grow and flourish, so he sent Joseph ahead to Egypt so he could pave the way for them. Then He allowed a famine to drive Joseph’s family to join him there.
Joseph’s response to his brothers at the end of the story demonstrates how God can even use evil acts to bring about wonderful blessings.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Will you accept His plan?
The Struggle Makes You Stronger
Consider a butterfly that must wrestle itself from the chrysalis. If you try to help it escape, it will never be able to fly. It will die. It needs the struggling process to push fluid from its body to its wings. The struggle is necessary.
God will never let you struggle a nanosecond more than what is necessary to accomplish His best plan for you.
Do you know how to build stronger muscles? You have to put your muscles under a tension greater than they have already adapted to and then cause minor localized damage in your muscle fibers. That’s why you are sore after a hard or new workout. It’s actually after your workout is over, while you are resting, that your body goes to work building and repairing your muscles. The result is bigger, stronger muscles.
Struggling make you stronger too…eventually. You may feel weaker before you get stronger. Be patient with the process. God knows what He is doing. He knows how to make you stronger, but chances are you will be tempted to doubt His training methods.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
You’re the Karate Kid and God is like Mr. Miyagi. Just keep waxing on and off even when you’re sore and exhausted.
Will You trust His training?
Healed to Serve
And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.
I have always been intrigued by the story of Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law. She was bed ridden with illness, but as soon as Jesus touched her, she got up and started serving them.
She didn’t lay in bed for a while to gather her strength or try to milk her illness to get others to wait on her. She just hopped to it and got to work. Luke’s version even adds the word “immediately” (Luke 4:39, ESV). This lady didn’t waste any time!
I believe this story reveals an important reason Jesus heals us. It’s not just for our own comfort or convenience. He wants us to use our strength to serve Him by serving people.
When you find your healing or recover from your trials, use your energy to serve the hurting, the broken, the lonely. You are specially equipped to bless the broken by giving them what you were given (or what you wish you had been given) in your time of need.
Ministering to another person’s pain soothes your own. It is a double blessing.
There will always be death, sin, destruction, and tragedy until Jesus returns to rescue us. We are all in need of much grace, comfort, and love. Be His hands and feet—“Jesus with skin on” to a hurting, broken, and messed up world. They will recognize us as lovers of God by our love for one another (John 13:35).
Will you use your healing to serve others?
People who have experienced loss and pain have a deep compassion for others and a yearning to reach out to them. God wants us to comfort each other with the comfort we receive from Him.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Look closely at these wonderful verses. God comforts us in ALL our troubles, so we comfort those in ANY trouble.
God will comfort you in ALL your troubles, but only if you give the hurt over to Him and allow Him to transform your pain and make your broken beautiful. If you continue to hold it deep inside, it will fester and rot into bitterness instead of grow into beauty. It’s extremely hard, if not impossible; to give comfort, grace, love, and mercy we haven’t received. The only place to receive true lasting comfort is in arms of Jesus.
You can comfort others in ANY situation. It doesn’t matter if your pain is similar to the person you are trying to minister to or not. The fact that you have been wounded makes you more sensitive to all types of human suffering.
“Most wildly divergent sorrow may all be taken to foot of same old rugged cross and find there cleansing, peace, and joy.”
~ Elisabeth Elliot
Ultimately, we’re all in the same boat together. And without Jesus, we’re all sunk.
Don’t waste energy measuring one person’s pain against another, trying to decide who has it worse. We all hurt.
Neither do we bring comfort by blaming a person for his or her own pain (though their own actions may have been a contributing factor).
Just extend God’s compassion to others as freely as He extends it to you.
Will you comfort others no matter what the nature of their pain is?
Be a Beacon of Hope
People are watching you whether you are aware of it or not. They are watching to see how you react to your circumstances and if what you say you believe makes any difference in the end game.
Your survival in suffering is a beacon of hope for those on the path behind you. When you thrive in spite of difficulty, you inspire others to dare to hope that they can too.
We overcome evil by two things—the power of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection and the words of our testimony (Rev 12:11). There is power in our story. Speaking our truth about what God has done for us in our trials is listed right alongside the very blood of Christ as a powerful weapon for overcoming, conquering, defeating evil. No wonder our enemy wants to keep us quiet.
Be bold enough to let your life story be a beacon to light the path for others.
The spirit of overcoming is contagious. Sharing our own stories encourages others to share theirs. As we tell what God has done, candles of hope will light this dark world one by one.
Will you light the path for the weary travelers behind you?
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
~ Helen Keller
“Nothing is Wasted” by Jason Gray
To read other posts in this series, click the image below.