Redeeming Suffering Through Action

This post was recently shared in the Steadfast Mom’s Newsletter from my friend Angela O’Dell. You can see more and sign up to receive this monthly newsletter on Angela’s blog HERE.

Things I find unacceptable about the last 15 months of my life:

  • My mom was killed instantly in a car accident- the day before my 36th birthday.

  • Thirty days later, my best friend moved 15 hours away.

  • The following several months held sickness, anxiety, and yet another autoimmune diagnosis for myself.

I lost my mom.

I felt like I lost my best friend.

I rapidly began to lose my health.

You want to talk about some raw, lonely, abandoned feelings? This can be the tricky thing about God's Will- it can so frequently be counter to what we would choose on our list of "life events I find acceptable."

Sometimes it's just too much. Sometimes we receive more than we can handle and its absolutely overwhelmingly unfair. Suffering never feels ok- but despite that, we can DO something that helps us move forward. We don't have to be a victim to our circumstances.

As I spent many days in bed, too brokenhearted or broken-bodied to function, I ultimately knew that God had a perfect and supreme purpose for every single event that had transpired in this short time. But what could it be? How was any of this pain ok?

Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:19)

This scripture found me in the midst of what seemed like insurmountable hurt, loneliness, sadness, and sickness, and it brought me to the healing ground I’m on today. There are two “pieces” of this verse that profoundly shaped my acceptance of a Will that I found unfair and overwhelming and allowed me to begin to redeem all of the suffering I was walking through. I want to detail them here, as they continue to be a source of encouragement in helping me to press forward:

1- I had to fully know and believe that this will was from a FAITHFUL Creator.

The way forward in my new circumstance, a circumstance that I was absolutely NOT OK with, was to realize that only with an accurate understanding of who our faithful Creator is, could I have the strength to do good, despite my suffering. If I could TRUST God, I could trust his will.

God ordained each day of our lives, before we were formed in the womb. Our good God who gives life never designed our fragile hearts to withstand death. We were MADE for eternal life. But death still happens- and it’s sting is only lessened by the overwhelming peace and grace of an ever-present Father and what Jesus Christ volunteered to do for us. Our good God that gives life… He is no less good in death. HE did not CHOOSE death for us. His ways are infinite, unsearchable, incomprehensible, and unquestionable. Through Christ, he forbears and forgives our every trespass with perfectly timed, perfectly weighted mercy, from everlasting to everlasting. And through the ever-present gift of Christ’s suffering and resurrection, our brokenheartedness is counterbalanced by our eternal hope.

In the midst of a situation where we find God's Will unfathomable and even unsavory, we have a few choices: We either accept him as infallible, trusting that he is always good, or we resent the pain he has allowed. We either rely on his strength when ours has fully faultered, or we crumble beneath the pain that is quaking us.

We either trust the perspective and purposes of the One who is unknowable and unquestionable... or we trust the feelings and plans of our own finite perspectives. 

Our will always echoes our own limited view. The Will of God always echoes his perfect faithfulness.

Our first duty to our own heart is to wrestle with and ultimately rest with the knowledge that regardless of what we see, what we expected, and what we feel, God works everything together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).

We can not even begin to press forward or look outside of our own pain, until we have come to rest deeply in our faith. Our first duty to our own heart is to wrestle with and ultimately rest with the knowledge that regardless of what we see, what we expected, and what we feel, God works everything together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).

ONCE I was able to consolidate the idea of a good, just, faithful God with the loss and pain I was enduring, I was able to move into the second part of this scripture that gives me the strength to redeem my suffering.

2- I had to persist in doing good, despite my suffering

Writing was more than something I was created to do for others, it was something that God specifically equipped me to do as a way to process and move through emotions- both those that are healing and those that are damaging.

It wasn't until the months following my mother's death that I realized writing was more than an occasional hobby, but a directive from God that he intended to heal my broken heart and to also do good in his name. As I wrestled with overwhelming sadness, a sense of unfairness, anger, and air-sucking anxiety, I realized that my hobby of writing was the only way I could get all of my pain OUT of me. Writing was more than something I was created to do for others, it was something that God specifically equipped me to do as a way to process and move through emotions- both those that are healing and those that are damaging.

This past year, I've penned brokenness onto paper to medicate myself but also to offer a helping of what great comfort God has given me through every teardrop. I've sought my hardest to do good by taking some of what I’d written and sharing it vulnerably with the world.

As I've walked a muddy, slippery ledge from despair to restoration, I've learned that true healing is held in the place where I'm doing good in defiance of what the enemy of my soul meant for harm. When I write about grief, about Christ, or even about homescooling, it means I’m looking dead into the eyes of satan and saying: What you intended for harm and destruction, my Father intended for good.

And as I persist in sharing in many aspects of my journey, God is using my words to continue to knit together the broken pieces of my heart and body. And all the while, HE is being glorified, as he so richly deserves.

I have learned that God's Will is rarely what I expect and may often not feel very good to my flesh, but in his perfect faithfulness, he will work together everything for the good of those who love him. And in the process of his working for my good, I am called to a good work, in his name, as well.