Life can be very hard and painful. People can be cruel, abusive. Relationships filled with hope can become sources of pain and betrayal. Our hearts can be broken; our spirits wounded.
But . . .
God promises us in Isaiah 61 that He can bring beauty from ashes and turn our mourning into joy. How wonderful is that?
This is actually one of my key life philosophies. It is the underlying reason why I trained in social work and became a bereavement coordinator for hospice. The painful events that we endure in this fallen world are not the end of the story. I can take what I learned through growing up in an alcoholic family and being widowed at thirty-five and share it compassionately with others in the midst of similar situations to give them hope, ideas to cope and encouragement. The pain can be transformed into a healing tool.
If we allow God, He will use us- as His hands and feet, as His light shining through the darkness. WE are the instruments He uses to make something beautiful out of the ugly, painful situation we endured. He can use us and our testimony to give others hope and to encourage them along their path to healing. This is often how ministries, foundations, causes are started. Someone who had a loss, a difficult experience decides to start a project to reach out to others to either prevent the same tragedy; to honor the one who suffered; or to simply inspire and encourage.
There are so many examples in our world. Corrie Ten Boom who suffered and lost family members in German prison camps has taught so many about forgiveness and redemption. Joni Eareckson Tada, paralyzed as a young girl, has helped many disabled people find meaning in their life and inspired all of us to look for the good, the positive, the possible. Watchman Nee, imprisoned for years, penned deeply inspiring writings on the Christian walk. Mary Beth Chapman founded Maria’s Big House of Hope following adoption of girls from China. A friend of mine established Thinking of Nikki Foundation to help families of children with cancer, following the death of her little girl. Elizabeth Elliot embarked on a life’s mission of inspiring women through her books and speaking after the tragic death of her first husband,missionary Jim Elliot. There are many, many others. Who can you think of that has inspired you?
Jesus was our ultimate example of suffering turned into something good. God sent Him from heaven to live with all the earthly problems, to be horrendously tortured and then nailed to a cross to die . . . so that He could take all the sin of the world on Him, that we would then be forgiven and pure in God’s eyes and able to spend eternity in heaven with them. What a story of redemption!
Let us each joyfully allow God to take the broken pieces of our lives, rearrange them and reuse them in a new way for His light to shine through like stained glass, bringing hope and beauty to others.
How can you take a painful part of your life and use it to help someone else?