We are in the middle of a missions emphasis at church and our friend, JB spoke yesterday. JB has been a friend of ours for almost 16 years and it was amazing to see how he has grown in his ability to communicate in a public forum. Made me get teary-eyed I was just so proud of him.
JB was talking about leading missions trips to Cambodia and Haiti and the extreme poverty of wealth and spirit you can witness there. He also shared about witnessing extreme joy from people who have nothing because they have had a radical encounter with Jesus Who meets all their expectations and needs according to His riches in glory. JB had a lot of great things to share, but one statement he shared really resonated with me. He was talking about the phenomenon of pain and what it drives us to do and he said...
When you hurt, I pray! When I hurt, I doubt!
Wow! What a truthful nugget to chew on!! My first response when I hear of pain and struggle in someone else's life is always to pray. I let them know I am praying, I request others to pray and I talk to the Lord a lot about their pain. When I experience pain, though, I often jump ahead of prayer to questioning why Papa would allow me to hurt so deeply if He loves me as much as He says He does. Why do I assume His grace, mercy and care is sufficient for everyone but me?
It seems as if other's pain allows me to clearly see His care, desire and ability to intervene on their behalf while my own pain causes me to curl up in the fetal position and wonder why He seems so far away! How is that?
Reality is, the same compassion He has for the hurts of my friends and those I hear about is available to me in just as superfluous a capacity as it is for them. I just have to own that Truth. I just have to understand that there is a picture so much bigger than I can adequately comprehend. I must believe deep in my heart that an imperfect world full of imperfect people is going to have imperfect things happen within it that cause me pain, but that is not the end of the story. There is a perfect Saviour Who is more than able to gather me up...hurts and all...and reassemble the pieces of my life the way He sees fit so that my life and my faith end up a work of art created by the One Who can bring beauty from ashes.
Isaiah 61:1-3 ~ 1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
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
Thank you, Papa, for loving me enough to allow me to experience pain. Pain, while so difficult at the time, is usually the catalyst that stands to drive me straight into Your arms if I choose not to doubt but to trust Your love and care. May I be willing to extend the same measure of grace to myself as I do to others and may I not allow struggle to turn my eyes away from the You and Your ability to meet me in the midst of my struggle!