All Things Good: God's Promises in Action.
Ok, friends. It's testimony time. Because God really is so awesome...and truly does work ALL things for good. Curious? Keep reading...
As I've shared before, this past year has been the hardest of my entire life so far. CF is a brutal illness, and it likes to slooooooowly rip apart your body piece by piece--a painful process...both emotionally and physically. Throughout this past year my faith in The Lord has been tested and tried, but ultimately strengthened in a way that only Christ Himself could strengthen. I have grown closer to my Savior and felt His presence in a powerful new way. I've had my eyes opened to His promises in a totally new light, and have truly come to understand the expression "The LIVING Word," and have heard Him speak to me through His Word. The one promise that I've clung to and that's kept me going on even my darkest of days is Romans 8:28: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purposes." This verse has been my lifeline: I've cried myself to sleep repeating it's words, and it hangs by my bed so it's the last thing I see before shutting my eyes, and the first thing I see when I open them.
But recently I've been questioning this promise. Not doubting God by any means, but...angry. Tired. Upset. And truly at my wits end. It really is one disaster after another with CF, and although I am doing MUCH better than I was 3 months ago, life is still a daily battle, and is really taking a toll on me emotionally and physically. The past few weeks have been exceptionally hard, as I am currently in the midst of treatment for this intestinal infection I have. It's horribly painful and frustrating...and truthfully just utterly exhausting. I really feel like I just can't catch a break...
Yesterday was probably the worst day I've had in a long, long time. I was so sick all day that by the end of the day, I was so depleted and weak I could hardly walk from the soreness and exhaustion in my legs. This is my life, friends. This is a snapshot (a very small snapshot) into life with CF. When I say it never ends, I mean it. I went to bed feeling utterly hopeless...and also, like I said, angry. Honestly starting to doubt this promise...I really just couldn't see how He could POSSIBLY bring good out of this level of pain...this level of suffering. After I had already been through the summer from hell. Really?!
I woke up this morning feeling pretty much the same emotionally. Once again sick most of the night, and kind of wanted to just stay in bed all day (the cloudy, super snuggly 2nd-day-of-Fall weather didn't help either...), but I kept getting sick which kind of forced me to get up. I went ahead and started getting ready for church: last Sunday was my first day back at church in over 3 months, and I really didn't want to miss today, even though I felt half dead. But as I got myself ready, I began to feel more and more a very weighty feeling...burdened. Not from discouragement, from...something else. I have been writing a lot lately...I feel God leading me to write, and I'm not arguing! I love it, and it's been such a phenomenal way for me to release. One of the ways I've been writing is through poetry. My poetry is NOT from me...it is completely and totally The Lord speaking to me and through me. I'm just the translator, writing down His words. My poems are my prayers: I talk to God, and HE talks back. It's amazing. I tried to continue getting ready for church, but I couldn't ignore this feeling...like The Lord had downloaded a ton of information and revelations into my brain overnight...I had to write it down. Right then and there. As I sat in my sunroom the words just started flowing...I sat there writing for over an hour. Just pouring out my heart and God pouring back into it. The things He was saying to me...I just kept writing. I finished writing and then read what I wrote and truly couldn't believe what I had felt Him saying to me. The anger, dread, fear, and frustration I had been feeling made so much sense, and had vanished as I wrote. I checked the clock, then finished getting ready: I could still make the 11:00 service (I usually shoot for the early services...less crowded!). Emotionally I felt better...but my legs still felt like cinder blocks and my stomach was still sounding like a whirlpool on overdrive. Just make it to church, I thought.
I arrived at church and found a place to park. This was only my second time at this church (I'm kind of a church "nomad"--I like to visit around, but decided I would stay if I found one that felt right), but really enjoyed last week's service and message and was excited to return. I got out of my car as fast as my body would allow (SLOWWWWWLY) and began making my way to the entrance. A greeter stopped me before I crossed the street: "Hello! Welcome!" "Good morning, thank you!" I smiled back. He was clearly checking out my heavily bumper stickered blue Nissan as I tried once again to make my way across the street. "Excuse me, are you local?" he asked. "Um...yes, but why?" I said, a bit confused as to the reasoning behind his question. Can I just get inside? I need to use the bathroom! "Well because this parking lot is for visitors." he said. "Yes, I know, I am a visitor." I said. "Well how many times have you been here?" I was shocked by this question. Really, dude?! "Well this would have been my second time here...but I believe I'll go somewhere else today" I said as I quickly turned around and walked back to my car. I slammed the door trying to fight back the tears that were hotly welling up in my eyes. If ONLY he knew how hard it was for me to get here this morning...how hard it is for me to make it ANYWHERE...to even walk the short distance to inside! If only he knew the night I've had and heck, the YEAR I've had! If only he knew what I go through every second of every day...maybe he would think twice about freaking INTERVIEWING SOMEONE before allowing them to park in the visitor's lot that's closest to the front (side note: I can legally park in handicapped spots, but rarely if ever do because there are other people who need them much more than I do, even on my worst days like today). But that's beside the point--I WAS A VISITOR! Who cares if I'm local? I was still visiting that church...but I can guarantee you I won't be again. I was truly in utter disbelief over this. I pulled onto the highway, the tears just billowing out onto my flushed cheeks. I needed to be there today...I needed to be in the presence of The Lord. Now what? I thought. Now where am I gonna go? In a snap decision I decided to go to the church I had attended for almost a year and a half. I stopped when I moved home because it was just too far and I was getting to the point where I couldn't drive anymore. Like I said before, I tend to "church hop," because I honestly get bored of any one place or thing for too long (or maybe it's the pastor's kid in me, thoroughly enjoying the freedom I have to attend whatever church I like with no strings attached for the first time in my life, haha! Love you Mom and Dad!). Anyway, in my head I thought, "Well I guess I'll just go there..." I would still get to go to church, after all. But deep down I was seething. I was so upset over this encounter and truthfully so HURT. As I sped along (correction: I was NOT speeding...I was going the SPEED LIMIT, "sped along" just sounded more visual, haha) the freeway I prayed "Ok, God. You work all things for good? Let's see you do something with THAT." I quickly brushed the last tears off of my cheeks and pulled into the parking lot of the other church. I was kind of dreading it, honestly...at this point I was getting ready to lose it. One more thing, I thought to myself. One more thing and I will shatter. I made my way inside and found a seat (AFTER finding the bathroom, of course). After the worship time ended, it was time for the message. Apparently the pastor was beginning a brand new sermon series today (I ADORE sermon series'. Again, it's a pastor's kid thing...)! As I sat there listening to the pastor, I was in complete disbelief: the sermon today was EXACTLY what The Lord had spoken to me this morning/overnight. I literally had my mouth hanging open sitting there listening. It was the most amazing thing...and the service was wonderful. It was so nice to be greeted by old friends, and to be told you were being prayed for constantly (there is nothing better to hear than that, truly. So thankful for every prayer I get. I need them all).
By the time I got back to my car I was kind of in shock. I just sat there, tears once again streaming down my face, reading the notes from the sermon and re-reading the poem I had written this morning. Almost identical. This was ONLY something that God could've orchestrated. I just sat there thinking, praying, smiling...thanking God for His goodness, for His promises, and for His presence with me. He speaks when we cry out. I have been praying harder than ever before for healing lately. It's like one big, never-ending prayer for healing. That's how bad this pain is...I'm suffering so intensely...and I'm just so tired of this life. This broken, pain-filled, brutal life that's mine...I'm so ready to get relief at last. I'm ready for healing! But I've felt like God wasn't hearing this prayer...the pain yesterday was the worst yet and I have been SO horrendously sick...but as I sat there in my car, just reviewing this all in my head as if I were watching a movie, all I could do was smile and say "thank you God. Thank you God."
This was, for me, Romans 8:28 in action. Had that butt-hole greeter not said that to me, had I not left feeling utterly distraught and heartbroken and hurt, had I not "just" gone to the other church, I would never have heard the sermon that God had already preached to my heart once today. This was complete confirmation not only of what God was/is saying to me and leading me to do, but it was also proof--beautiful, paradoxical, awe-inspiring proof--that He really IS working ALL things for good, even the unbearable pain and suffering and brokenness I am experiencing right now...and that He really does keep and IS keeping ALL of His promises.
Whatever you're going through right now...whatever you're facing this moment or will be facing in moments to come, He's working it for good. All of it. The pain, the tears, the waiting, the heartbreak, the loneliness, the addiction, the neglect, the suffering...all of it for your good and His glory. We will never full understand His ways (until we get to heaven...and boy do I have a LOT of questions!), but we don't have to understand. We're not called to understand--we're called to trust. Trust and obey. Have you ever thought about the fact that if we understood everything there would be no reason to trust? No reason to pray and develop a relationship with our Savior? Trust Him. He is worthy of all our trust...and all our praise, honor, and glory...because He truly, without a doubt, is working ALL things for good...and keeping all of His promises to us. Hallelujah, amen.
Happy Sabbath my dear friends.