Pain for a Purpose
On more than one occasion during the course of our lives, people have told us… “Have you read the book of Job?” “Ya’ll have a life like Job.” In the past, all I really knew was that Job underwent repeated suffering, I really didn’t know much more than that. I allowed others to label us as “Jobs.” We are “Job” I thought a few times. We have nonstop chaos, troubles, situations that others don’t have, more than most. So much so, we stopped telling people things that were happening to us, because either people wouldn’t believe it, or it would drive friends away.
It wasn’t until I experienced back to back moments in my life that I realized nothing and no one but God could lift my head and comfort my fears. I had to seek HIM, nothing else would suffice. It was then that I realized my pain had a purpose, even when I don’t “feel” like, even when I don’t want it to. I had to change my perspective on what life and satan was throwing at me and find a way to find Jesus in all of it and to find a way to use it to help others.
I was raised in the Catholic church, so going to church and knowing God was engrained in me. It was in 2002 I met Jesus. I always knew who he was, knew he died for me but I had never known him personally. In that same month we had our 4th child, Carrington. Church, bible study, Wednesday night service, I promise you if the doors to our church were open, we were attending. It was during this time I knew God was calling me to something I couldn’t fully understand but man was I on board, or so I thought. Shortly after this there was a situation with Scott’s partnership which was completely out of our control and the provision we once had came to a screeching halt. House note, car notes, 4 children, private daycare did not come to a halt. It was hard. In the middle of this, a toilet flooded our entire downstairs 6 weeks before number 5 was born. Almost exactly one year later, a little storm called Rita came through and wreaked havoc on our newly remodeled home leaving the 7 of us homeless. Over the course of the next 2 years, 5 children and 2 dogs in tow we would move 5 times before making it back “home.” When we made it home we actually had 6 children, as my sisters teenage daughter had come to live with us. Within months of being “settled” we experienced our first real trial with our oldest son.
I remember feeling like we couldn’t come up for air before we were pushed down again and I cried out to God, if you want to pick on my money, fine. My shelter, ok. I had also been in a car accident and injured my back, you want me physically in pain. Done. But My kids… No way. If being in communion with you Lord requires this of me, I am out. If your calling on me requires this much sacrifice and pain I don’t want it. I am not capable of this. I could barely attend church, I was hurt, I was broken. I didn’t want to hear one more person tell us “they were blessed because their house wasn’t damaged by the storm” was I not blessed too? I didn’t want to hear the judgment from others about Christian. Everyone else’s kids were perfect, mine was not. Did God not see us? Why would a young family with 5 small children, lose their shelter? Why In the midst of this would you send me a teenage girl with learning disabilities, why would you allow Satan at my son? WHY ME? WHY HIM? WHY US?
Suffering of any kind prompts a natural reaction of Why. We want answers, and when we don’t get them the silence can be as painful as the initial pain itself. I wanted answers, yet there were none.
Job wanted answers, he had gone from having all he desired, 10 children, and living a very prosperous life to losing all of it in one day. He couldn’t come up for air before the next messenger came in to tell him more bad news. (Job 1:13-19) It’s what happens in Job’s life next that should be the focus and not his suffering. Here is what he said:
v. 21 “Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Do you praise God in your suffering? I sure didn’t. I didn’t thank him for all that was going wrong, I didn’t acknowledge the bigger plan, I didn’t even want to be part of it. It took time, it took silence and the dessert of my spiritual life for me to realize there would be a purpose for our pain. Job was vulnerable and now I must be too.
Little did I know 14 years ago when we lost our house that we would be living in another city that would be devastated by a hurricane, our little friend Harvey. I would have never imagined that our pain, our loss, our “homeless” state would ultimately allow us to minister to others who lost everything. From encouragement, crying, coaching about insurance companies, to serving in a shelter and 100% identifying with the state of shock people were in, God revealed to us the purpose for our pain. We may not always know the “why” at the time, even Jesus asked “why” on the cross.
Mathew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”
that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
What we do know is that just like Job, in our weakest state He does not abandon us and during these times of suffering when we cry out to God we open ourselves to a channel of divine communication. He chooses us, he uses us for His plan. We may not always “like” it, but when we view our pain as part of God’s divine purpose in our lives our perspective clears our tears. I want nothing more for you and me to sit at the feet of Jesus one day and for Him to say “well done, good and faithful servant.”
Read the book of Job, don’t let it scare you and don’t just focus on his suffering, focus on the restoration and the relationship he built with God along the way. I no longer shutter when I think “we are like Job.” I can only hope I can be as vulnerable and faithful as him.
Here is the song that played moments after we found out how bad our house was, divine communication, you bet. Praise You In This Storm
Until next time,