Beauty for Ashes

I heard the statement recently that we are all divinity wrapped in humanity. Really that is just a fancy way of saying we are spirit beings wrapped in flesh. This got me thinking about the fact that God never intended for us to be wrapped in flesh. Yes, he created our bodies but we were never meant to war with our flesh. It is amazing to me how easy I forget that tiny detail in my life. Not only was I not intended to war with my flesh but this world I live in, well, it was intended to be permanent. God came and walked in the garden with Adam. Earth was perfect. Heaven was here. God did not want to be distant and separate from us. I must remember these small but very important details in the big and small moments of everyday life. I do not live in God's original plan. I live in the redeemed plan of God. The redemption of Jesus is miraculous and irreplaceable and my soul stands right with God again, but this flesh I'm wrapped in and this world I live in, it is still decaying and will continue to until the very end.

The big question of "why does God let bad things happen?" came up with our students at summer camp this past month. We all struggle with that question. It's easy to explain away the reasons when bad things happen as a consequence of our actions but not so easy when bad things happen to people who are trying to do good and be good. One thing I have had to come to understand over recent months is that God absolutely does not bring tests into our lives. What kind of God would I be serving if He spent His days sending tests to me to see how devoted I really am? Well, not a God I could sell out too. That would be a God that I cannot trust. A God with limits. Contrarily, this God we serve, He only knows to do and be good. That must be the foundation of my relationship with Him. He. Is. Good. This requires a lot of trust on my part. It is hard to remember God is good when we have to watch loved ones suffer or we loose our job or someone we have trusted and loved has completely shattered that trust. In those moments our anguish can easily cloud our view.  I have grown by leaps and bounds the past year in my walk with Jesus and with that has come some very different perspectives in my life. That question of "why did you let that happen?" has lingered in my heart for some time and Jesus has recently been working with me to heal that place. Now, when I think back to those very painful moments I don't really see my pain anymore. I see the grace God gave me to keep going. I see the joy I had in spite of the storm. I see now that God was weeping over me when I was hurting. He was not turning away. He was picking me up off the floor and giving me strength to go again. He was redeeming me, over and over and over again. Now, I have a story of not just that Jesus saved me but that He restored me. Isn't that what He wants anyway? Not just to save us but to restore a relationship with us; to bring us back to that original perfection He intended us to be.

I, by no means, think I have found the answers to the hard questions. I have simply come back to the simple truth that this world is messed up and I serve a perfect God of unconditional love in the midst of it. The fact that He still works in me, despite the mess is a miracle. The fact that good can be found in my pain is a miracle. The fact that Jesus conquered death so I would have nothing to fear is a miracle. The fact that I can, once again, be made righteous in God's eyes is a miracle. I will not focus on the things I don't understand but will trust that God does understand. I trust that He has a plan for my good and only my good. I will look for Him in my suffering. I will seek Him in my pain...and I will be better for it.

Ask God your questions! He is not afraid of your doubts. He wants to sit and talk with you about them.  He will gently lead you back to His truth and, if you let Him, He will build an unshakable foundation in your heart that will last for eternity. What He is building in our hearts really has nothing to do with this world. It has to do with eternity. We are living here so that one day we can be there. We live here only temporarily and the things we overcome on this Earth will be our story in Heaven. One day we will all sit together, with Jesus, and talk about the good He has done in us. On that day, it will all make sense. Our questions will fade in the light of His glory and truth. I pray that God gives you rest in your struggle. May He be your peace and strength in the midst of your battle. May he clothe you in beauty, righteousness, wisdom and honor.


"To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory." Isaiah 61:3

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