Every believer knows Romans 8:28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." When trouble hits, we hang on to that scripture, believing that somewhere down the road we will see what the good was in whatever "bad" thing happened. I mulled about this on the way home last week and thought, "What if the "bad" happens for the good of someone else?" Sure, I expect that there will be infinite good in personal character-building and all that, but what if the "bad" that happens occurs so that in some way you can be used for good in someone else?
This weekend I had a disappointment, a discouragement, a setback, along with a very definite kick-in-the-gut feeling which set in. I've had a couple of zingers since Pat's death which were salt-on-an-open-wound, or like getting your left foot cut off when you just lost your right arm. Throughout the past six months I've done my share of "How Long, Lord?-ing" and questioning my ability to ever understand His plan. So, feeling low, I spent a lot of time this weekend in reflection, retrospect, and, because I'm human - second-guessing.
I made a decision to write down what had me upset and to put it in my 2017 Blessing Jar, believing that God was going to use it for good in some way, shape or form. I even wrote on it that I hoped when I looked at it in December that I'd be able to understand by then what the blessing turned out to be (because I sure didn't see it at the moment). I sealed up my jar and gave it to God.
WELL... that very day there was an inkling of the good. It has only been two days and I'm already seeing VERY clearly at least a part of God's plan. A part with eternal repercussions. (I am over-the-moon that God decided to give me a peek at the blessing part sooner rather than later).
Admittedly, I don't think we ever necessarily want to feel any temporal pain in exchange for eternal benefits. Pain, well, it hurts. That's why it is pain. We must fix our focus on Jesus and keep our eyes on the prize, even in the face of suffering. C.S. Lewis writes this about the end goal of pain: "We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character.” Along with that pain is going to come refining; rough edges are going to be smoothed, bad parts snipped off. I know I always seem to have lessons to learn about self-reliance vs. God-reliance. I find myself praying for a teachable spirit that doesn't need as many hard lessons to get the point! Thankfully, God is right along with me and compassionately suffers along with me .
A beautiful picture of that is in C.S. Lewis' The Magician's Nephew, Digory is desperate for his mother to get well. His suffering heart is raw when he pleads with Aslan. “But please, please - won't you - can't you give me something that will cure Mother?'
Up till then he had been looking at the Lion's great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion's eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory's own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.
'My son, my son,' said Aslan. 'I know. Grief is great.”