“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.”
Let me begin with an apology for falling off the blogging bandwagon these last few weeks. February hit me like a ton of bricks and left little energy, desire, or time to write. Some of you may remember my blog post a few weeks ago, Bittersweet. The Lord had used a devotional and stress in my loved ones’ lives to show me the benefit of the bitter amongst the pleasant. If life was all sweet, we would be left malnourished. After writing that post, I never guessed that my life would be flooded with bitterness in a matter of days.
On Friday, February 3, my fiancé got into a major car accident. By the grace of God, he was left uninjured. His car, however, was totaled. His car, that was going to become our car when we were married. Suddenly, we were facing the possibility of car payment debt and lawsuits.
A few hours later, one of my best friends from Baylor unexpectedly and suddenly passed away. I hadn’t seen this friend in months, but he and I regularly talked about Tim and I’s wedding, the future, and the struggles of dating long distance. He and I had bonded over being in serious, long distance relationships, and had studied together, walked to class together, and shared many laughs together. I always imagined that he and his girlfriend would be Tim and I’s best friends after college, but without warning, he was gone. Thursday, he was asking me what the dress code was for my wedding. Friday night, he was with Jesus.
A few days later, I found out that the baby boy I nanny four days a week had been accepted into a daily preschool program. Selfishly, I was in agony over the days and moments I would miss out on not being able to see him every day. Logically, I knew the new program would benefit him academically, physically, and socially more than I ever could.
Alone, one of these situations would have been shocking and scary. Together, they were devastating. I grew angry with God for allowing my friend to pass away without warning. I allowed fear to take over my heart as I began to face unemployment. I felt betrayed by my Father for allowing Tim to come remotely close to being hurt or killed in a car accident, one of my greatest fears. My bitter tears drowned out the sweet blessings that God had brought from hardship, and I couldn’t bring myself to sing in worship because I didn’t agree with the words on the screen. My faith was shaken, and nothing in my life seemed stable or trustworthy anymore.
“What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.”
This last weekend, my church hosted a student conference for youth groups across the state. Hundreds of students poured in our front doors to be molded and nurtured by the Gospel. Tim was spearheading the Heartwork Experience, an interactive journey designed to inspire students towards selflessness as they encounter the brokenness across the world. Heartwork is a ministry started out of Colorado Springs whose mission is revolutionary and beautifully simple: open students eyes to true poverty, and give them tools to help those who can’t help themselves. Our church’s Heartwork Experience focused on Antigua, Guatemala, and as students were confronted with statistics, testimonies, and images of poverty, they were broken by brokenness.
What our students didn’t see is the weeks of selflessness and sacrifice that went in to designing, building, and decorating the Experience. Tim was the team leader for Heartwork, so I made myself as available as possible for him. An emotionally exhausting week was followed by a physically exhausting week, and the bitterness persisted. The bitterness persisted, raged, and thrived until I saw the fruits of my labor this last weekend. My feet ached, but my heart was full as I was able to pray over dozens of students who walked through what I had helped create. Stories I had researched and rewritten brought students to tears. Letters I had typed through the eyes of a child moved hearts and broadened minds. My maternal heart enabled me to nurture students through prayer, encourage them as they saw the world through new eyes, and be patient with those who just didn’t get it. My gifts that could only come from a good, good Father were being used to mark future world-changers, and that realization was a drizzle of honey over a soured heart.
“And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.”
If you’re not in the middle of a hard time, the season is coming. The Bible promises that there is a season for everything. The beautiful thing about seasons is that they end, and the world shifts a little when the next one arrives. Seasons are natural and God is sovereign over them. Seasons are repetitive and cyclical, “because God makes the same things happen over and over again” as the passage above declares. Whatever God does is final, out of our control, and all we can do is trust that He is working everything together for our ultimate good. When struggle comes, don’t become angry as I did. Trust that God has a purpose in it. Here are some “purposes” that I’ve been fortunate enough to see:
- Tim’s wreck enabled us to get two used cars with the money from his old car
- The death of my dear, dear friend has brought me closer to his girlfriend, who is a blessing and inspiration as her grief has strengthened her faith
- Losing daily snuggles with my favorite baby boy reinforced the calling to motherhood that God has placed on my life
You won’t always see purpose in struggle immediately, but it is always there. God’s plans never end in brokenness, but always in beauty. He redeems and restores all things in His perfect timing.
P.S: This blog will be shifting in the next few weeks from Blogger to WordPress, so be on the lookout for the release of our new domain!