Recently as I have been praying for people, I have found myself in a posture of gratefulness. As I bring the tragedies and traumas before the throne, I ask God to let each person see at least a glimpse of the redemption and beauty that He sees at the end of it. You might say, “Yeah, that’s easy, Heather. It’s not your pain.” And there is truth to that, I understand. However, the understanding that this point in time, this moment of tragedy, is not the whole story comes from my own walking through the hard things.
And that’s really the truth of abiding in Jesus, right? There is no greater paradox than this life that we chose to live. One where the admission of depravity leads to sanctification; the surrender of self leads to the fullness of living in who you were really created to be; where death leads to eternal life. There is a fine line between grief and joy, between despair and hope. You really can’t have one without the other. How could I understand grace and mercy if I wasn’t first in a place where I was accused and condemned for my crimes?
It’s the biggest reason I am not afraid to call people to repentance – not because we are stuck in our sin and horrible people, but because I know when we repent we open the door to deeper relationships, to healing, and to peace as opposed to the destruction that comes from our refusal to do so. However, to repent means we have asked Him to truly reveal what is there; It means allowing him to put a new spirit within us and removing from us our hearts of stone. ( Ezekiel 36:26.)
Sometimes I hesitate when I pray. I see the broken darkness all around us, and I think “How long, Oh Lord?” But as I pour my heart out to him he gives the space for the grief, he allows for my words, and he weeps with me. At the same time, he is not a God who is closed into time – he goes ahead of us and prepares. He sees the way all of these things are being made holy.
Could I ever have true joy without the brokenness ? Could I really live in absolute peace without having battled anxiety? I would have known pockets of these things – a small taste of goodness, just a shadow of what could be. But like the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus because she truly understood the forgiveness she received, I realize that my own steadfastness, joy, and peace come not in spite of circumstances, but because of them. And so they become like a banquet rather than a small taste; like the whole picture rather than a tiny shadow. We settle for so much less than what He wants for us because we are so sure of our own needs.
God’s ways are not mine. He knows what it takes my stubborn heart to come to the point of willingly dying to self. As I seek him out and continually ask him to reveal my own heart and then make it like his, I can see his fingerprints all over my story. I wouldn’t want it any other way.