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Why This?

Have you ever encountered a struggle that left you devastated, leaving you in a place where you questioned your faith and God's reasoning for the pain? Maybe you've endured a circumstance that left you empty-handed and utterly broken. Just when it seemed like God was working and your life was finally making some progress into a direction you were desiring, everything came crashing down and all you were left with was the numbing pain of what to do with the pieces of your shattered heart. It is during these times that it is difficult to process why God leads us to dark places such as these. Maybe it seems like your journey consists of tiny glimpses of light that quickly dissipate into the darkest of nights with no end in sight. Just when it seemed like God was about to do something miraculous, it felt like your dreams were dashed and you were left with the shattered pieces of your hopeful heart.

Maybe occurrences in your past still make your heart ache and break beyond what seems like nothing could ever repair. Some hurts just run so deep that nothing can seem to ease the pain. Sometimes hurts like these feel like time will never heal the dark scars that were engraved on a battered heart. It's during these times of bitter suffering that are the most difficult to find God's presence and purpose for the situation at hand. It's hard to accept that "all things do work together for good." It's hard to trust that He's working it out.

There have been times in my life that I thought God was providing direction in my life and I placed my trust in Him thinking He was leading me a certain way, and then out of nowhere the opposite of what I thought God was leading me toward occurred and it led me into intense questioning.

Knowing God can do anything and having a faith that He is capable of all things can sometimes lead us into discouragement when He chooses not to provide the way we were desiring. We know God is capable of doing the impossible, but in this case He chose not to and it leaves us in utter confusion and bewilderment at His decision.

In these dark moments I have found my heart aching and my mind asking God:

Why did this happen? 
Why are You allowing this? 
Why did You not provide the way I wanted? 
Why did You choose not to do the impossible when You were capable? 
Why was Your direction so clear, only to leave me in this uncertain dark place? 
Why do You keep stripping my life of what I desire the most? 
Why do You withhold things from me that others are so freely given?

Some things just do not make sense now. I cannot tell you how many times I have questioned God's purpose and why He chose to end certain seasons of my life that I wish would have continued; or why He chooses to end certain loved one's lives earlier than others. The biggest struggle for me to comprehend is God's reasoning. I have often questioned if the pain I have experienced is worth the purpose God is using it for.

While I don't have an answer that accurately relates to everyone's circumstances I have found this to be true: God identifies with our pain. He sees the deep wounds that scarred us. He sees it all. That is one of the attributes I love most about God. He knew us before we were born and He's been with us all along. He knows our full story. He is not just viewing our life in snippets or snapshots, but He sees our life from beginning to end. Nothing is overlooked, missed or forgotten. He knew what caused our first heartbreak, and knows how those same struggles have been digging deeper into our hearts over time.

God is not just someone who listens, but He understands. He gets it. He has been there before. He knows what it is like to suffer. He has gone through rejection. Immense physical pain. Emotional trauma. Torture. Persecution. Betrayal. Loneliness. He has not just experienced the emotions, but He is the one that has been with us, experiencing the pain as we endure through it. He's the one that has been by our side helping us along. Everything that broke your heart, broke His. Every worry that you've faced, He knew the weight it caused. Every heartbreak that continued to dig deeper into your soul, He was there taking every hit.

When you experience those hard struggles and wonder what God is doing, just remember that God sees. You may wonder why certain things are occurring (or the lack thereof), but God has purpose. Even if we did get answers to our many questions, His plan does not always make sense to us. Our finite minds were not made to fathom the vast and great plan that He is using to fulfill His purpose through our lives. This is where faith comes in to play.

Faith is one of those words that we all know, but few really take full advantage of it's full intent, me included. Faith is knowing God has a special purpose and finding rest in knowing that He has got it under control and knows what He's doing. It's trusting His wisdom and acknowledging that we do not need to have all of the answers to be able to find joy in our circumstances.

When we're experiencing the pain and amidst the struggle it is hard to get a clear perspective. We become so engulfed in the situation that it clouds our view. Sometimes we do not realize that the darkest of times is allowing us to grow the most abundantly. It gives us the opportunity to discover God in a more intimate way than we ever could have if everything was going as we desired. Instead, what we thought was breaking us, was in fact, strengthening and refining us beyond our hopes and dreams. You may not see it in this life on earth, but I believe one day we will see that the relentless raging fires that we withstood, were being used to refine us to God's perfection.

If you are looking to your present circumstances and asking God "why this?" remember that He sees your pain and understands your past. It might not make sense now, but nothing we experience is wasted. Nothing. Everything is teaching us something, impacting another's life and strengthening us beyond our greatest hopes and dreams. We may not be happy with our lives or see the results now, but one day we will be surprised by the amazing purpose God was using us to be a part of.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. // Proverbs 3:5-6

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us. // Ephesians 3:10 

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So, let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. // James 1:2-4


Living in a Broken Mess

Looking back over this past year has left me with bittersweet emotions. While there were times that bring a smile to my face, I find my memories often being dominated by a numbing pain that seems to endlessly persist. Although it's not always constant, but when the waves of pain do come, they crash and flood in like an overwhelming powerful surf.

At times it felt like God was working and my life was finally making some progress into a direction I was desiring. Then all seemed like it was stripped and I was left with the broken pieces. It seems like my journey consists of tiny glimpses of light that quickly dissipate into the darkest of nights with no end in sight. Just when it seems like God is about to do something miraculous, it seems like my dreams are dashed and I'm left with the shattered pieces of my hopeful heart.

I honestly can't say I've found an answer. I don't know the reasoning. One thing that allows me to hold onto hope, even when the future appears so foggy and uncertain, is resting in the fact that God is working. I may not understand the reasoning for my dashed dreams and broken heart, but God is using this broken mess for something. Sometimes I question whether His reasoning is worth the deep anguish that my circumstances have brought me and it feels like there is no purpose that could seem worthwhile for the suffering it has caused.

Occurrences in my past still make my heart ache and break beyond what seems like nothing could ever repair. Some hurts just run so deep that nothing can seem to ease the pain. Sometimes hurts like these feel like time will never heal the dark scars that were engraved on a battered heart. It's during these times of bitter suffering that are the most difficult to find God's presence and purpose for the situation at hand. It's hard to accept that "all things do work together for good." It's hard to trust that He's working it out. And the hardest of all, is to let it go. Letting go feels like you're losing control. You're overlooking the pain. You're allowing the hurts to be forgotten.

I believe the first step in moving on from a painful past is to find forgiveness in your heart to let it go. Let go of the pain and set it free. Don't let it control you anymore. Don't let those circumstances dictate your happiness. Letting go allows you to give it up to God and find peace in knowing whatever you experienced will be worth the pain and is being used in some miraculous way. Letting go takes the weight of the burden off your heavy heart and into God's almighty hands.

We can begin to find beauty in the mess by reminding ourselves of God's promises. He sees all things. He knows the pain. He will bless you for your obedience. He will provide exactly what you need. He will be with you no matter what. He is a fair Judge. His love for you will never cease. He will never abandon you. You are irreplaceable. God's plan is perfect. He doesn't make mistakes.

Even amidst the circumstances of our past, we can find hope in knowing that God is working in our future and nothing passes through His hands without a purpose. Nothing is too big for God that He can't handle and there's nothing too small that He's not aware of. Even when we feel like our life is out of control and going nowhere, God is up to something and He's directing us exactly where we need to be! 


Grieving through the Holidays

You know it's that time of year again when Christmas rolls around and you're bringing out the decorations and turning your home into a festive wonderland. You find yourself listening to the cheerful peppy tunes on the radio, but somewhere deep inside your heart is aching. You may be able to fake that "merry and bright" attitude, but within you feel a heavy weight tugging your heart down.

Although it's been over 18 years since my dad went home to be with the Lord on that dark November night, every year I still feel a heavy weight nagging at my heart and competing with the joys of the season. When family gets together I somehow always leave feeling like I'm missing that one important piece of me that seems like it will never be fully replaced. Something I see others blessed with, and often take advantage of, and I'm left with an empty heart longing for it to be filled with that same happiness.

People often think that time heals all wounds, but in my experience it definitely doesn't. Within time we can heal, but like with all wounds they are sensitive and can easily be reopened. The tiniest memory can open up that deep dark wound we thought mended years ago. Any loss of a close loved one causes heartache to follow, not just immediately after, but depending on our love for them, it could last a lifetime. Even down the road when we experience another similar loss, all those same memories come flooding back in allowing us to pull up those recollections from the past. Even the happiest of memories can cause the deepest pain because we are quickly reminded that we can never enjoy those cherished moments with them again. They are gone, and it hurts to recall the good times knowing they aren't here to reminisce.

Others often think the pain of losing a loved one is best to be left unspoken. They try to avoid any remembrance of the pain it might cause. They don't know what to say. They don't want to feel awkward. They don't want you to become emotional or upset. Although by ignoring your loss, it sometimes deepens the pain. You feel alone and the one you love has been forgotten as well. That part of you that was so deeply touched by your loved one has been silenced. Since they are no longer here, it feels like their memories have been nullified as well. The deep pain your heart feels weighted down with is left unseen and unheard. If only they knew that you've been craving for someone to ask about them. Your heart has been holding onto the pain and everyone else has so easily moved on.

I have heard that how much you grieve displays how much you love. The deepest of wounds on our heart often are caused by those we love the most. Over the years it often has seemed like those whom I grew close to were either taken away or God took them home to be with Him. It was difficult knowing God knew what was best when all I wanted was someone who would remain by my side without doubts arising whether they would be sticking around for long.

I can honestly say that even amidst the grieving, many funerals and pain, I have come to realize that even though God blesses us with friends and family, we shouldn't be come too dependent on them for our satisfaction. I remember many seasons of my life feeling like God had stripped everything from my life and I felt so alone. I questioned what God was doing. I didn't understand how it could be His will to leave me so empty handed and heart-broken. Looking back I can see how God was using those darkest of moments to strengthen my relationship with Him. Because I didn't have those relationships with others I went to Him with my worries, problems and tears. Unlike everyone else whom I questioned their commitment and acceptance, I was able to fully open my heart up to God and rest assured He would never leave or reject me. Even through the darkest of nights and the endless questions of my past, God has provided me with hope of an eternal home where I will spend eternity with Him and also see all those who have gone before me where we will live pain-free and not be limited in our time with one another.

Even amidst the pain and heartbreaks you have faced, you can rest in the promise that God works all things together for good. He's got an amazing plan for your life and every step is perfectly planned out. Nothing is being overlooked or misguided. There's purpose to those darkest of valleys God has led you through, and He's been by your side all the way. God could be using those deepest wounds to influence and prepare you to provide comfort to others who are enduring similar struggles. Let God use your broken heart, shattered life and find joy knowing He is strengthening and using you to display His power and glory!


What Now?

Have you ever taken a few moments to look back over your life? Recalling circumstances you've gone through. Hardships you've encountered. Times when you couldn't contain your happiness? Dark days you never thought you'd pull through?

When I look back over all God has brought me through I often find it bittersweet. Moments that I cherish the memories, while others pull up deep wounds of hurt and pain. Even through the bittersweet memories of my past, I can find joy in knowing God was working through it all. Trials that left me with endless questions, I can now look back and see how God was working. As I find my way back to my current circumstances I sometimes grow weary as I look towards the future. I question whether God will continue to direct and provide for my needs. I question what He desires me to do now.

Recently I have found myself in a season of "what now?" Looking at my life I sometimes find myself wondering what my purpose is right now. I want to live for more than the daily mundane routine of working, eating and sleeping. I want more to my life than the earthly satisfactions that I try to fill the void of emptiness within me. I want a long-lasting purpose that will far exceed this life here. I want to do what God has called me to do, even if it is the hard thing and it requires me to step out of my comfort zone.

Sometimes I get anxious when I'm in a stage of waiting. I want to see God working. I want to have certainty regarding what my purpose is. I want to feel used by God. I want to know what I should be doing now. I want to make sure that I'm doing everything that God has called me to do. I get worried that I'm not fulfilling God's purpose for my life. I get discouraged when I feel like I go through a day and I didn't accomplish or fulfill something for my eternal home.

Maybe you are in a current stage of your life and wondering "what now?" Maybe you've just ended a season of your life and you're wondering God's reasoning for ending it and what He is desiring you to do with the next season of your life. It's easy to grow anxious in God's will for our lives, but I believe that as long as we are seeking and praying for God to direct us, we are well on our way to fulfill God's purpose for us. Sometimes when we feel like our life is stagnant and we don't hear or see God working it feels like we aren't fulfilling His will. I believe when we are humbly asking and praying for God's direction we are fulfilling God's will for our life.

Sometimes I begin to doubt that I'm fulfilling God's will for my life when it seems like my life has no impact. I feel like I go through each day trying my best to live for God and show His love to others but I never seem to see Him working and doing amazing things like I do with other's lives. I grow weary and question whether I truly am in God's will if I don't see Him working or using me.

I have to continually remind myself that even though it may seem like this life God has given me often seems invisible and incapable, He is using me in ways I don't often see. If you are willing and seeking to be used by God, He too is using you in amazing ways that you may not even realize. People will see a difference in you even though they may not admit or mention it. We only can see one side of our circumstances, when God is orchestrating every event in our life for something amazing. One day we'll see that there was an intricate and detailed plan all being woven together to create a beautiful creation that God used through our lives. We may not see it yet, but our current circumstances have a deeper value than we often anticipate.

If you're questioning your purpose in your current circumstance and whether or not you are fulfilling God's will, just ask Him to guide you. Seek after Him and pray that He will lead you where He wants you. Pray that He will use you and provide opportunities for you to be a light for Him. God doesn't expect us to lead a world-changing life that impacts millions. That would be amazing, but we all have a unique purpose God has entrusted us with. God created us specifically to touch the people only we could influence. God doesn't expect perfection or a massive revival, He just wants your willingness and a humble heart willing to be used by Him. Give Him your daily circumstances and He will work in the most mundane tasks to strengthen your character and acquire eternal treasure.


Reaping in Due Season

Have you ever felt yourself growing weary in your current circumstances and wondered when the time will come when you will reap the fruit of your labor? When the hard times come it's easy to grow discouraged and lose strength to press on when it seems there is no end in sight. Often times it feels like we've planted our "crop" and we've been waiting, what seems like forever, to see some sign of growth. Maybe storms have come and impacted your "crop" and you've had to continually start over. Sometimes life's trials knock us down and it's difficult to rise up once again after feeling so weak, but the strength of our "roots" will lead to a successful crop that can stand against life's storms.  Even through the worst of circumstances that we encounter we can rely on God as our source. He is our stronghold in times of despair, and when the storm has passed we will see He was growing us all along. 

Sometimes we overlook God's blessing of harvest in our lives because we are looking in the wrong places. I have found when God helps me overcome a trial I find it easy to praise and thank Him, but as time goes on I quickly forget all He has done. I focus more on my present circumstances and question where He is now, instead of remembering all the ways He has worked in the past. I fail to remember that He was always working for my best and I easily get discouraged that this time maybe He's not looking out for me and has forgotten me.

God never forgets us. We're never put on hold or rejected by Him, and what we've done for Him will certainly never go unnoticed. Sometimes the deep wounds on our hearts seem like they are only ours to bear, but God never said we were in it alone. It is often doing the right thing that leads us down the hardest roads full of pain and suffering. It is during these times that we grow weary in following after God and struggle to trust Him when the world so easily entraps us with temptations of worry, doubt and things we think will satisfy the longing on our hearts (Galatians 6:9).

I love how Psalm 1:1-3 states that those who delight in God will be blessed and will yield fruit in due season. God's perfect timing doesn't always make sense to us, but He's always working in our lives. We all have unique seasons of our life to grow in. Some may feel like seasons of waiting, discouragement, silence and frustration, but through each season we can learn something. Nothing we go through is wasted time. Just as God has times to strengthen and grow us, He too will bless us and provide us with blessings of harvest.

I have found that following after God brings so much more long-lasting satisfaction than living for myself. Looking back over the past 24 years of my life I can see that there were things I desired, but God had different plans. Although it led to a harder and more painful life, I can see that He had purpose for each circumstance I went through. Our suffering, hard work and determination may feel like it's being overlooked, but God sees every heartbreak and tear we cry. He has been by our side through it all and everything we do for Him is worth it. The very things that felt like they were breaking our heart are the things God is using to strengthen us into amazing instruments for Him. We may not reap our harvest of obedience down here on earth, but we will be recognized for our commitment to Him. Our pain and suffering we are facing never goes unnoticed. God sees it all. He's got you right in His hand and when you are following after Him you are right where you need to be.


A Change of Season

Have you ever looked back over a season in your life and you thought God was leading you down a path and it quickly changed for the worse? Have you ever felt like God was finally answering your diligent prayers and was blessing you with the desires of your heart, only to leave you with empty hands and a broken heart?

I was experiencing a season in my life that I thought God was supplying the desires of my heart that I had been seeking Him with for quite some time. I finally felt like God was directing me and I could see glimpses of Him providing for my needs. I felt like my life was about to head in the direction I had always hoped, only to quickly find my circumstances drastically changing and the things I had placed my contentment in were suddenly taken away. It really hit me hard. I felt so alone and didn't know how to pick up the broken pieces to move on. My trust had been shattered and it felt like I would never fully mend from the deep scars I was left with.

Leading up to that point, I was in a desperate place seeking God for direction. I prayed with a pleading heart for clarity and an evident sign. I was at the end of my rope and I begged God to step in, I couldn't handle the uncertainty anymore. I came to God with a desperate heart, and within a few days God had given me a clear answer to my prayer. Although I was praying for direction, I was devastated by the unexpected clarity I had received. It broke my heart, and for a while I lost my perspective. I lost my hope and questioned the meaning of my life.

Maybe you're going through a similar situation. Maybe you don't understand God's purpose for the current season God has you in. Maybe you don't understand the reasoning of the season God has chosen to end. Maybe you question the purpose of God's direction, seeming to always lead into a dead end. Let me tell you that even though your life may feel like it's at a dead end, it's only just the beginning. Things have to end so something else can occur. God doesn't make mistakes. Nothing occurs in our life without it going through His hands first. I had to remind myself of these truths in those dark moments of doubt and questioning God's purpose. I had to get an eternal perspective. This may feel like the end, but we are placed on this earth for something far beyond the pain we endure here. How we react and what we choose to do during the darkest of nights strengthens our character and trust in God.

I have found that through this life things come into our lives that will steal our joy. It's not because we earn them or lose them, but because we allow those things to become more prominent than God. We think that once we find happiness in those things we will be able to serve God more effectively. Unfortunately I have found it doesn't work that way. I must first find contentment and satisfaction solely in God and then I can find joy in those blessings He so freely offers. Society constantly throws false ideas and assumptions at us daily, leaving us thinking we need a status or possessions to complete us or fulfill our needs. Satan is behind these evil thoughts and I can't count the times that I have fallen for his deceptive schemes. How often I have found that my circumstances don't need to change, but my perspective.

Take a step back and look at your situation. Satan is using the very things you desire the most to pull you away from God. He's using the rejections from your past to haunt you. He's using the negative words of criticism to pull you away from your full potential. Satan's trying to deceive you into thinking that God doesn't have a plan for you. He sees your faith in God and is targeting you because he doesn't want you to continue to grow deeper. He wants you to doubt that God is working. He wants you to question God's presence. He wants you to grow weary in doing good. Take a look at your situations from a new perspective. It's not the people or circumstances that are destroying you, it's Satan and his targeted treachery that is leading you down a path to discouragement and doubt in God. Don't let him win. Don't let the darkness overtake you.

Just like in baseball, those closest to reaching "home" are the ones often targeted, while the rest of the players aren't as much of a threat. This is the same with how Satan works. He targets those who are strengthening their faith in Christ. He doesn't want them making a "home run" and growing in their relationship with God. He targets the strong because the weak aren't seeking after God and chasing the temporary pleasures of the world.

If you're in a current season in your life that you feel is unfair or prolonged, don't lose hope. Seek God to help you through and ask Him to give you a clear perspective in your current circumstances. Don't forget that the desires and pleasures this world has to offer will one day burn away. Choose to focus your life and purpose around something that will be refined through the fire. Use those deepest scars on your heart to be opportunities for your faith in God to be strengthened. Desiring our circumstances to change is not the primary goal, it's seeking to fulfill God's plan, trusting that He doesn't make mistakes and allowing our perspective to be focused on our eternal home. Choose to be so focused on God, and what will last for eternity, that you can become delightfully surprised when He blesses you with the desires you have surrendered and so generously offered over to Him.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. // 2 Corinthians 4:16-18