It's been over a decade since I finished the series on the wayward child. If you read the whole thing, you know the personal pain and seemingly senseless suffering our family endured due to one child's rebellion. It continues...
There is an oft-repeated phrase in the Bible that I have learned to relish: "But God..."
Things look bleak, tragedy has struck, enemies surround, and life frankly makes no sense. It's been that way since history began. And it will continue until history ends. We try to make sense of it ourselves and fail. At the point where we throw up our hands and quit, God steps in.
Fifteen years ago, I would never have believed there would come a day when I would honestly thank God for allowing our family catastrophe. Accept it? Maybe. Endure it with patience? Possibly. But thank him? Impossible.
God used that season in my life to bring me to the end of myself so that he could finally do something with me. I didn't realize how much work needed to be done in my own life and he used this heartache to do it.
Due to all that God taught me through this and other painful life events, He has equipped me to become a counselor. For the past ten years, I have had the privilege of serving him as a certified lay counselor and seen hundreds of lives changed for His glory. I am reminded often of the words of Joseph in Genesis 50:20, "What you intended for evil, God intended for good to save the lives of many people."
I use what I learned about rage, bitterness, and forgiveness almost every week. God brings people to me who need to learn the lessons he taught me and it is my delight to help guide them to wholeness. I am now beginning to understand what God spoke to me years ago, that He would receive glory from this, but not in the way I thought.
So I am thankful for it. Thankful for the past pain, because it whittled away the junk from my life that hindered me from coming into a deeper relationship with God. Thankful for the continued hurt, because it keeps me humble and ever mindful of the pain my clients are experiencing. And I am thankful for the future testimony my daughter will have when she finally comes to the end of herself.
She has given us a granddaughter, Bella, whom we adore. Bella has built a bridge in our family, and helped to heal our hearts.
So when life hurts, hang on to the most powerful phrase in the Bible: But God...