We are in a series about Getting Personal with God. A part of Psalm 139 was read at both campuses this week. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. This is my favorite psalm and it gets me every time. God knew me all the way back then (and for me that is pretty far back!). Couple that with Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. I cannot read those two scriptures and think I am here at random. God has a purpose for me.
Last week we talked about passions. One of my passions is to create beauty, and one way I do that is through my garden. I adore this time of year, shopping for plants, hands in the dirt, I was made for this. Now I try to create beauty inside our home as well, but I really like my garden because anyone who walks by can enjoy it. I like to think that someone who is having a bad day can look over and get a laugh from the squirrels hanging from the bird feeders. I have had some interesting conversations with neighbors about my garden.
This week we talked about gifts. I have discovered my top spiritual gift is that of faith. Comes up the same every time I take an inventory. Sounds like a great gift right? And it is. But when I look in the Bible to see examples of those with great faith I come up with, Job, Hannah, Jeremiah, Daniel, the 3 Hebrews thrown into the fire, Paul, Mary, Jesus. What do all these people have in common besides faith? Suffering. They all have suffered greatly. I have not escaped that. God had used my skills as a nurse and my gift of faith to be able to witness great suffering and not fall apart. I have been able to use my skills (gifts) to help alleviate or comfort someone through suffering. It is hard to walk alongside the suffering, as you bear another’s burdens and help them carry their pain. It can be heartbreaking. I have also known great suffering myself, and it is hard to walk through. Many in our culture use escape mechanisms to ease suffering. Food, alcohol, pornography, sex, busyness, codependence are all examples and I have been guilty of using many of these or others over the years as well. But as I walk with God, and use the gift of faith that he has given me and not use the escapes, something inside me changes. I begin to trust God more, I stop striving and trying to arrange for my own outcomes. And when I do that, the rest and the peace come, even if my circumstances don’t change. God also blesses me in the midst of suffering. When I am able to get my eyes off the circumstances and onto Jesus, I see the hummingbirds that God has sent. I am able to smell the scent of gardenias and lily of the valley in my garden. I am able to feel the breeze on my face and I know that even though my circumstances are painful, God is good. And I remember the above scriptures and lean into them, and it is just a a little bit better. I remember the suffering won’t be forever, and God WILL use it for my or someone else’s benefit, probably both. God does not waste one tear.
All of you reading this have gifts from God. If you don’t know what they are, take an inventory online, take a class, ask a staff member at Hope to help you. While I have sweet times alone with God during periods of suffering, I also have a husband, counselors, friends, co-workers, mentors that all help me through difficult and good seasons. I do not do life alone. If you do not have people surrounding you, FIND SOME NOW. Because in this life, no one escapes suffering and it is near impossible to find your people when you are in the midst of chaos. And go use your gifts. What I find when I am using my gifts for the sake of others, I am blessed no matter what my circumstances at the moment are. And I am able to say, my life is good, because it is a gift from God.