1) Everything happens for a reason. "Didn't get the job? Got dumped? Haven't been able to get pregnant for six years and now the adoption fell through? Awe, I'm sorry. Just remember, everything happens for a reason." It's meant to encourage, and help us make sense of something that just doesn't. We are afraid that they are losing hope, and we are uncomfortable with grief, so we try and make it better by implying that there must be a good reason why bad things happen. But I have a different perspective...sometimes things just suck because they do. Life doesn't always go our way, we screw up, and so do others. Bad things happen. It's not always God's will or His plan. Sometimes it is, and I believe that sometimes He purposefully allows challenge and tragedy to touch our lives because he does have a reason for it. He has something to teach us that is best learned in the valley, that we won't learn on the mountain top. Sometimes after the fact we do see God's hand at work. But not always, and not every situation. Don't tell me that it's God's will for a husband to leave his family. Don't tell me God "wants" a young mother to get cancer. Don't tell me that our son has rejected his faith, or that my best friend lost her child "for a reason" orchestrated by God. It doesn't fit into the character of the God of the bible, the God I love and know. He only wants good things for us, but when bad things do happen (and He promised that they would), He is there to help us through it...to hold us when it hurts so bad we don't think we can bear it. And He ALWAYS provides the path through it and offers the strength to walk it out. (We don't always accept the path or the strength that He offers, but it is there for everyone). He will teach us something through every situation, if we allow it. Even if the only lesson to be learned is that He is faithful.
"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." - Isaiah 43:2
2) Listen to your heart. What a great idea! I think I'll do that because my heart is always honest and true and wise and not ever led astray by my fickle emotions.
It is a beautiful concept tho, and it would be a reliable way to discern our decisions if our hearts weren't so stupid sometimes. "Yes I know he's (fill in the blank), but I LOVE HIM!!" Mmm, k. How'd that work for ya? (Shut up, Dr. Phil!)
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things"! - Jeremiah 17:9
3) What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I've known some people, and I bet you have too, who have been through crappy stuff, who have been punched square in the face by life, and while they may be "tougher" for it, I wouldn't call it strength.
Sometimes "strength" looks suspiciously like bitterness. When you've been betrayed and hurt again and again and (really?) again...it takes strength to forgive.
Sometimes it is paraded around as cynicism. When you've lost something you had hoped for and dreamed for and lived for, something irreplaceable and sacred...it takes strength to hope again.
And sometimes it can look a lot like control. When you're just not going to let it happen again, when you're done with the empty promises and the failing and the waiting...it takes strength to trust, to let go of the fear and surrender that broken dream to God.
Oooooh, it can be hard, can't it? I get it, I so get it. I've been in that place where I desperately wanted to forgive, to hope, and to trust...but it was just so tempting to give up, to put another brick or three on that wall, and tell everyone to just shove it because you are "done". I've SO been there. I'll most likely be there again at some point or two. But what I am learning is that true strength comes only from surrender. In human terms, that makes absolutely no sense at all. Surrender means to give up, doesn't it? It means weakness, not strength! Well, call me crazy, but I've seen this concept at work enough times in my life to believe it.
Surrender. Surrendering to nothing, is the end. Surrendering to God is the beginning. It's the fertile ground needed for God to begin to do His work in our lives. When we take the posture of surrender, when we let go of trying to control, when we give up our defenses and our misguided attempts at forging our own way through...when we drop to our knees and open our hearts in true surrender...that's when hope breaks through. Trust builds one day at a time, and forgiveness lightens our load as we begin to heal. And strength blooms.
Surrender. It's my new word for this year.
"Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” - 2 Corinthians 12:8