Yesterday, I capped off an amazing afternoon in a horrible fashion. I came home to find our 13-year old Dachshund, Scooter lying dead at the end of our neighbor's driveway. The little guy who never wandered from the house had gotten too far from home and I assume was hit by some idiot teenager who thought it would be cool to run over my dog. This really brought to the surface some things I had been mulling on for the last few weeks about life's pain and victory and their relationships to God.
A couple of weeks ago I was visiting with my cousin about how sometimes it seems like God strings us along. He had a successful career as a construction foreman for a very large homebuilder in one of the fastest-growing areas in the country. When the housing market fell out a couple of years ago, he was laid off and has spent the majority of his recent months trying to begin a new career, which finally happened a few weeks ago. He asked me how I was doing, and I said I was "feasting on the riches of his grace," a line from the hymn "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Sweetest Name I Know." You see, for the last year, my wife and I had been battling health problems, and financial problems but a few weeks prior, we had a breakthrough and God opened up a door for Cindy to use her talents, abilities, and life story, to share the love of Christ to women in crisis pregnancies and to be able to get paid for it. In the wave of highs and lows that life brings, we were riding the crest of a big one.
But yesterday, when I saw our "little man" lying in the road, it all came crashing down. And I remembered my conversation with Ken. We discussed why God seems to come through in his time, not ours. What we realized is that God designed us for a relationship with Him. He is a relational God, even in relationship with himself between Father, Son, and Spirit. He extends that relationship to us. When life is fine and dandy, our human nature kicks in and while we may give lip service to our dependence on God, often times we are not truly dependent on him, because we feel like we are self sustaining. But it is in our times of tremendous need, and deep pain, that we remember there is one greater than us who loved us enough to die for us.
Philippians 4:6-7 is one of my favorite passages. This passage says that we shouldn't be anxious about anything, but through prayer, we should present our requests to God with thanksgiving. Then the peace that passes all understanding will guard our hearts. That means when we depend on God, he gives us peace that we can't understand. That is the peace I have today in spite of my hurt. Psalm 55:22 says, "Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall." I Peter 5:7 also says, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." Since God included this in the Old and New Testaments, maybe he was trying to tell us something.
I don't know where you are today. But if you are hurting, just know that God loves you. He hurts when you hurt. And the only thing he wants more than to make your hurt go away is for you to grow closer to him through the hurt. That's why redemption is better than healing. When Jesus healed the 10 men with leprosy in Luke 17, all of them were healed. But only one used that experience to draw closer to God. Ten were healed, but only one was redeemed. Remember that when we hurt, it's not always about healing, but about redemption.