Psalm 139:16 - "..in your book were written, everyone of them,
the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."
"Are you kidding me?"
I am guessing that would be the natural, knee-jerk response to such a claim. Outlandish. Offensive. How can the Bible clearly say this when there are so many days that are filled with frustration, pain, affliction, trials, hardships and sorrow? How can a good God, who can do all things, allow for the pain and affliction to unfold - especially with His people?
The Citizens team met together after our Sunday gathering to reflect on this past year of coming together as a family on mission. We sat around in our living room and proceeded to share how the past 12 months have been some of the hardest in our lives. Family deaths, physical ailments, financial burdens, depression, unknown futures, anxiety, broken families, relational conflict, etc. Some of the pain was caused by our own sin and selfishness, most of it seemed to be simply the cards we were dealt in the season we were in. Sin had doled out some striking blows - and we were limping because of it.
As stories were shared and reflections were passed around - it became evident that, even in some of the most painful times of our lives, there was unprecedented growth, increased joy, new Godly-affections and an overflowing sense of gratitude. The pain hadn't magically vanished. We weren't ignoring the brokenness like it had never taken place. The gratefulness came from God. It was evidence of God's Spirit working in our frail hearts and using our feeble efforts. Even more shocking; it was evidence of God using ALL things; the pain, sin, affliction, deaths, sickness, depression, etc. for His ultimate purposes.
As we sat there and reflected - we sensed a deeper joy than ever before. A joy that was not tied to circumstances but to the Gospel - in the hope, love, justice and faithfulness of God shown in the life of Jesus! Knowing God not only can, but WILL use all things for His purposes brings an unspeakable comfort and an unwavering hope. Faith in a God who does such things allows broken and weak people like us to welcome any and all circumstances and affliction with joy! It allows us to look back on pain and see growth. It allows us to look back on sin and see God's grace and mercy. It allows us to consider it joy when we go through various trials because we know and stake our lives on the God who is always working all things out for our good and His Glory!
God is sovereign. He rules over all things. Affliction may throw a wrench in our plans but it will never throw a wrench in God's plans and purposes. He is always good, all powerful and continually redeeming pain into beauty and praise!
As you look around and see the hardships that surround you - REJOICE! God's work in transforming us into the image of Jesus is usually painful and slow. REJOICE, because He is stripping away your ties to this world and deepening your joy in Jesus, in His Kingdom, in another world! If you have been adopted into His family through Jesus - take heart and have peace, your days are planned and NOTHING, even the sharpest of pain and the darkest of circumstances, is a surprise to our Good Father!