As I was trying to decide what I should write this blog post about, I thought I would write a book review about an amazing book called Gospel Patrons or about how God uses the arts and design for His glory, but God put something a bit different on my heart this week. Right now it feels like everyone in my family is going through a time of turmoil. Somehow circumstances have just gotten hard and they are completely out of my control.
I Have to Fix It
When things are messy my temptation is to try to be the strong one, to fix things, to step in and fill the gap, to take the pain on for others and make it stop. The problem with this is that I am not God and there are things in this fallen, broken world of ours that I can’t fix and I am not meant to. Sometimes the situation cannot be righted no matter what I try or how many tears I cry. In these moments I am humbled by my humanity and my truly fragile state. In these moments I recognize that my strength only comes from the Lord. Only he can intervene and only he can save. I may not be able to fix it, but I can pray and trust that my great God is sovereign and present. He sees the pain and situation much more than I do. He knows the needs of each person in my family and there is nothing that has escaped his notice.
Leaning Into the Pain
In times like these we generally just want the pain to stop, but God is gracious and always has something to show us in the pain. Sometimes it is far easier to point out the sins of others, but I have found that God usually uses these times of suffering to show me aspects of my life that he wants to sanctify. Sins that I conveniently and neatly smoothed over become ugly eyesores that can no longer be ignored. The reason that I call this a gracious act of God is that he is not willing to let our wounds fester under the surface. He wants to clean them out and heal them and sometimes that is a painful process. Sometimes we need to lean into the pain, feel it, acknowledge it and bring it all before him on our knees in worship. We need to thank him that he is continually rubbing off our rough edges and making us new.
Over the years I have come to see that struggle and pain can be God’s mercy in our lives. In relation to Matthew 5:3-4, Charles Spurgeon said, “’Blessed are the poor in spirit:’ not those who boast themselves of spiritual riches and personal goodness, but the lowly, the meek, the trembling, the humble, the poor in spirit, ‘for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ – Let them be comforted now in the prospect of future comfort. There are no mourning hearts that mourn over sin, and mourn after God, that shall be deserted by their God: ‘they shall be comforted.’”
It is at our lowest points that we see God most clearly, and what is of greater value than knowing God more intimately? In our brokenness we long for heaven and we see that ultimately this life is passing away. The cross becomes everything. Christ is all and we know that we will be comforted beyond this life; that one day all things will be set right and we can rest in this hope.
The Strong One
It turns out that I am not the strong one at all. Instead I am weak, I am broken, I am a mess and yet God is strong. He is a mighty warrior who fights on my behalf and along with David in Psalm 142:5, I cry out to Him, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” He is strong when I am weak.
Tiffany Haines is on staff at Westside Church as a Deacon of graphic design and also leads worship. She has a passion for writing music for the Church and seeing the arts used to glorify God.