Life is Hard but God is Good
God Never Wastes a Hurt
There are times when life hits us hard. We're just going along, minding our own business when BAM! Out of the blue, tragedy strikes us or someone we love. How do we handle life’s surprises?
I have lived long enough to know that we have a choice about how we respond to hardships. We have a choice to allow hurts to make us better or bitter. The choice is totally ours. Life is hard but God is good!
Something I have learned over time is that God never wastes a hurt and
"He works ALL things together for good, to those who love God." Romans 8:28
Yes, the good, the bad and the ugly, he uses it all to shape us and get us ready for eternity.
How NOT to Be
I was talking with my dear confidant and friend Kathy yesterday when she reminded me that I taught her about how to forgive and grow through hardship.
She rehearsed ALL of the hurts of my lifetime. She mentioned the insecurity and abusive home I grew up in; she spoke of all of the financial struggles we have had throughout our lives. She continued to list the painful occurrences that took place in the various Churches we served, and finally, the most hurtful of all when my son turned his back on us and walked away.
Kathy said "Susie, look at your heart and the heart of your husband. God did not waste your pain and you are a living testimony to that. As a result of your trouble, your heart reaches out to people in pain. You give people hope for their future. Your struggles with finances have never kept you from giving to everyone you know.”
Kathy reminded me of our first ministry which was to Youth. The Senior Pastor’s wife was jealous, spiteful and angry. She turned on me and did everything she could to tear me down. NOT exactly what I was expecting as I looked forward to learning from an older godly woman. Kathy pointed out instead of turning from the ministry you determined that you had just been in life’s school to learn “HOW NOT TO BE” as a Pastor's Wife.
A Mothers Love
My Son His Son
As a young woman, I had such high hopes and dreams for our family. My children were everything to me. My childhood home was filled with strife; I had no mentors to model how to raise secure kids.
I read every book on parenting I could get my hands on. I read them hungrily hoping to learn the secrets of raising my children well.
My father was an alcoholic and a rageaholic. My mother was disconnected and cold. I already knew I possessed a different heart than my parents, I loved deeply.
Kathy shared what she observed, “Susie, though you felt you would literally die as your son spiraled out of control, you never gave up on him, not once." She was right. "But you continued to love him with tough love and hope in God. I watched you through it all Susie and I have also watched how God has used you in an uncanny way to encourage those who come behind you.”
Losing My Church Family
The last Church we ministered in almost knocked me down. I questioned my emotional stability. We were with that beloved Church for fifteen years.
My husband is a gifted teacher and was respected all throughout the years of our Ministry. Our Church was a place of peace and love. We opened our home to our congregation; so many memories of bonding, growing in the Lord, watching football together and more.
One of the ministries I held in the Church was with children. I loved the children of our Church. I took great joy in watching them grow spiritually. I led the Children's Christmas program for several years. My youngest daughter was my assistant. We nurtured our little protege's and uncovered their gifts in the areas of drama and music. The children and parents were excited as they discovered their hidden talents. The kids were amazing and we loved them so much!
We invested our hearts and souls in that Church and loved them well. After all of those years, we thought of them as our family. Then that BAM, out of the blue, visited us once again. After about 13 years at the Church, a battle took place. It was a vicious battle that, in the end, God won. An exodus took place with a HUGE victory over evil. Peace filled our midst.
During the storm, we had come together, as a Church, and were of one accord. We prayed and sought the Lord together humbling ourselves asking God to shine his spotlight on our own individual lives; asking Him to reveal any hidden motive or sin. We were bonded together in prayer to ask God to show us what to do. God answered and it was miraculous.
My husband experienced such freedom after the exodus. He was receiving tons of positive feedback on his messages. Many people in the congregation shared how God was using his messages to minister to specific needs in their lives. There was power in his preaching and the spirit showed up each and every week. There was a bond amongst the Church folk; a bond that was stronger than it had ever been.
A couple of years after God's miracle we found ourselves personally sinking into debt. Since the exodus, the Church was not able to support us financially. They were only able to provide half of what we received previously.
On top of this, I was put on a medical leave, one I was never released from. I was working full time and carried our medical insurance. After my medical leave and the doctor confirming I was not ready to go back to work, we had no medical insurance. My income was gone, we lost medical insurance, and Gary was receiving only one-half the salary he made previously.
But as a Church, we were experiencing growth. We were in turmoil because we knew we could not continue in this ministry without the funds to pay the bills.
Then the final BAM, out of the blue, hit us. A BAM from which we are still not fully recovered. My husband’s inner circle and closest confidants began to scrutinize him. The extent of discontent was revealed at a luncheon which was ironically on his birthday.
Though Gary was receiving a flow of positive feedback on his messages and these friends wanted him to change the style of his messages. Gary, himself felt God move in ways he had never experienced. His preferred method of teaching (and the one they were accustomed to) is as an expository teacher. But in this season, he felt God leading him to a topic on healing the heart.
Even though Gary was trying to make it on a small salary, (he added a side job trying to make ends meet) his trusted friends expected him to be in the office when they said he should be there.
We were in trouble financially, He could not pay the piling bills. The day of his anticipated luncheon with friends, he received criticism for working his small business. That day as he walked away from the luncheon he felt as if someone had pulled the plug and his spirit died.
He was totally broken and I was beyond grieved. As the realization of betrayal sank in and our financial situation grew more desperate Gary knew what he must do. He decided he had to resign and build a business that would support us. He had no other choice.
Although we left our beloved Church on good terms we were personally battle weary and deeply hurt. I can only remember one person who dropped by to check on us. After all of those years, did no one care?
My friend Kathy brought this situation to my attention. She said, “Susie, you could have become bitter – but you didn’t. You worked through your pain and you forgave each and every person who neglected, turned and left you feeling abandoned and alone. You are the one who taught me that God doesn’t waste a hurt.”
Beauty Out of Ashes
After my friend and I finished talking I did some soul searching and inner reflection. I could say with Joseph, "You meant it to harm me, but God meant it for my good."
I thanked God for working all that good stuff in my heart. Kathy helped me see God’s handiwork by walking me through my past. I see it and I lift my hands in Praise to the God who brought beauty out of the ash heaps of our life. Life is Hard but God is Good!
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a crotchety ole' fart (as my son-in-law Jon would say) when I grow old. I know the key is staying close to God and allowing Him to work His character into my life. He is all I need.
My heart cries out … Draw me close to YOU … never let me go. "He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother". "He will never leave me nor forsake me." Because He lives I can face tomorrow.
Draw Me Close to You
Music is therapy. Music has a way of bringing out emotions that lay buried. Music is filtered through your subconscious, the place where a lifetime of data (all you have experienced in life) is stored but perhaps not explored. As music filters into the senses, an awakening of emotions takes place.
Have you noticed that while listening to a song your emotions fall into the sometimes sweet, sometimes dark and tense magic of its melody? A song ministers to the depths of your soul. If music leads to the emotion of pain, allow your soul to linger and feel it. We cannot heal from a hurt we don't acknowledge. Music brings us to the place of acknowledgment; I feel sad, pain, longing, joy, etc. Worship music has the ability to transcend one's soul from this human existence into the majesty of God's presence.
The gift of a song takes us to the place we may never have reached apart from it. As music brings your emotions out of the subconscious realm and into consciousness you then have an opportunity to examine, wrestle, forgive, enjoy and deal with your issues.
I invite you to sit back and allow this music to fill you up and to soothe your heart. Let the words and the melodies be a balm to your soul's need. Bask in the beauty and be filled with healing.
May our heart cry be Draw Me Close to you. We know Life is Hard but God is Good and may we agree that Because He lives I can face Tomorrow.
Because He Live I Can Face Tomorrow
Life Is Hard but God Is Good
© 2010 Susan Ream