Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. (2 Corinthians 11:24-27 NLT)
She looked at me with eyes that refuse to understand. Why did this happen to me? It’s not fair. I thought being a Christian would protect me from this stuff. But my pain continues. Circumstances continue to bombard me. Not knowing what to say, I simply say I’m sorry. I don’t understand either.
Truth is, we all experience trauma drama. Bad stuff. The stuff we never want to happen.
In Isaiah 47 The Lord addresses Babylon. A city that worshiped idols. A city that must fall. But before they fell they endured all kinds of calamity. There is much to learn from these chapters about enduring hardship without crumbling.
Isaiah 47:10 says this, “You felt secure in your wickedness. ‘No one sees me,’ you said. But your ‘wisdom’ and ‘knowledge’ have led you astray, and you said, ‘I am the only one, and there is no other.’
Notice the emphasized words.
When enduring hardship how often do we believe we are alone? More often than we would like to admit. A pity parties best friend is loneliness. If Satan convinces us God is out to get us and we are alone in our troubles, he can keep us in the pits of despair.
But this false wisdom, this untrue knowledge, leads us astray. We are not alone. In fact God is with us in our suffering. Does He allow it to happen? Yes. His ultimate hand must permit everything that strikes our head. But are we alone? Limited to purposelessness in our suffering? Absolutely not!
Because we believe The Lord, Jesus is our Savior, and our suffering is not limited in purpose. We may not understand the causes of such wrath upon our humanity, but we can choose to understand the purpose behind the pain.
The catastrophe is not the situation itself. The catastrophe is refusing to find God in the midst. Believing you are indeed alone in your suffering.
And so Psalm 64:6-10 says this: As they plot their crimes, they say, “We have devised the perfect plan!” Yes, the human heart and mind are cunning. But God himself will shoot them with his arrows, suddenly striking them down. Their own tongues will ruin them, and all who see them will shake their heads in scorn. Then everyone will be afraid; they will proclaim the mighty acts of God and realize all the amazing things he does. The godly will rejoice in the Lord and find shelter in him. And those who do what is right will praise him.
Those who trust in The Lord will find shelter in Him. It’s not a maybe or might. You will find shelter in Him from all life’s hurt and pain. The arrows flung your way will not banish you from prosperity. In fact, they will make you stronger as you let yourself become more fully alive through Him.
Dependence upon His grace and mercy in times such as these are the wellspring of spiritual growth. The refining fires that make clean what can be processed no other way! Do you understand sister? The tragedy itself is not the pain! It’s believing you are alone in the pain. And that’s a bold face lie. You most certainly are not.
And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand. – Isaiah 64:8
Mold us into your image Lord. Through tragedy, fire, and pain – may we embrace it all! That we might be a bit more like you.