"... Who comforts us in all our troubles,
so that we can comfort those in any trouble
with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."
2 Corinthians 1:4 NIV
Last weekend I was working in the kitchen, the usual making and baking and washing up, when my husband would peek his head around the corner to update me on the progress of the U. S. Open golf tournament.
Now you must understand, golf is probably my least favorite sport to watch on television. Not to mention in person. But this year's U. S. Open had a story I was following, to be more precise... a golfer I was following.
For one of the stories of the weekend was a golfer who suffers from vertigo off and on and had an attack during the tournament. What I found quite amazing was his determination to continue through until the end of the tournament. He actually stayed among the leaders for a long time, eventually finishing "even" which meant he did not win... but he finished!
Why my interest? Well, you may remember when I was hit out of the blue (in the middle of the night!) with a severe case of vertigo. It was the worse thing I ever experienced. It was scary. It brought constant nausea. My neighbor still believes (I presume) I was tipsy that summer because I fell over in the garden more than once!
I had experienced minor bouts of vertigo, as had my mother throughout the years. But nothing like the life shattering symptoms severe vertigo brings about. The vertigo lasted most of the summer and then life returned somewhat to normal.
Although it never went completely away. A week or two ago I didn't think and rolled my head back to turn out the sofa lamp behind me. Oh, my. Wrong decision! Just the turn of the head the wrong way caused the room to start swimming. Like the golfer at the U.S. Open, I keep medication on hand to take when those first symptoms appear. (My vertigo is believed to be a result of liquid building in the inner ear as a result of sinus infections.)
You see, I became interested in that golfer because I knew what he was experiencing. I could be amazed that he would continue the tournament because I knew what it was like to walk with severe vertigo, much less swing a golf club! He had my sympathy but also my empathy. I had experienced the same symptoms he was, even if they were not on a golf course.
When I was suffering with vertigo, I found empathy in the life story of Laura Hillenbrand, the author of Seabiscuit and Unbroken. Laura has suffered from extreme vertigo for decades and while it makes it difficult for her to leave her house, she has written two bestselling books! Her story encourages many people who go through adversity.
As you also may remember, I think that term about making your mess your message is a bit overused these days. But for good reason. It has a lot of Truth to it. Godly principles to live by. God's Truth in a cute soundbite.
For I am convinced God allows the trials we face in life for a reason. A specific reason. An individual reason. They bring with them the road map of our destiny. His answer to the big questions like, "What am I here for?" and "What is my life purpose?".
I would say, should you ask yourself those questions... "What have you suffered?".
God never wastes a trial. Never. Ever. It is true that we live in a fallen world and that we as Christians experience the results of the Fall. It is true that bad things happen to good people. If we live long enough, we experience the bad stuff life has to offer.
However... and that is one big "HOWEVER", God truly does have a plan for our life. In his, oh... Godly way... He allows certain trials in each life. He knows it all, the beginning from the end, you know. When you are in the midst of a crisis, you don't think anything good can ever come from it. Especially when said crisis stays with you every single day of your life.
But He knows. He is not only watching from afar but He is right there in you and by you and around you each step of the journey by way of the Holy Spirit and His angels. It's just that... on this side of Eternity we really don't get it at all most of the time. Romans 8:28 seems like a joke, I mean really God... you are going to turn this into something good?
Uh, huh. He sure is and not only is He and will He but someday in Eternity we will get a clear view. He is going to use those trials you have experienced throughout life. That is your message! That is why Lewis can call suffering "God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world".
Tell your Story.
For in that story, in those stories, somewhere in the midst of all those tears and all that pain... you have a message that someone else needs to hear. If nothing else they need to hear that you understand. You get it. You've been there. God is in control even when your life is upside down (uh... literally!).
I love what Corrie Ten Boom shares about the tapestry of our life, how on this side of Eternity we see the ugly knots of the thread and the blackness of the background and how it appears a jumbled up mess. But the other side? From Heaven's perspective? He has woven a beautiful tapestry.
Throughout Eternity I believe each one of us will have a story of how God redeemed the messes... and wove the tears in with the laughter and with the pain and with the joy... and how He embroidered it with glitter and sparkle and redeemed it with His Blood and look at us! His Bride!
How does the old hymn go, "I love to tell the Story, it will be my theme in Glory!"? Amen and Amen!
Image: An April Storm by Robert Duncan