I see displays of redemption all the time. A person experiencing divorce walks the trail of bitterness and shattered dreams. The person wonders whether or not he/she will ever experience love again. Then, the unexpected happens when one date leads to another ending in love. When the person looks back over the years God’s fingerprints run all through the pain.
I have cried with people over the painful consequences of an addiction. Life falls apart. Hopelessness abounds. The future looks bleak. Yet, in the midst of the ashes, grace is experienced, habits are changed, and life is renewed. When the person looks back through the valley God’s grace and presence are evident.
Over the years numerous people have walked into the church for the first time in years. Life smacked them pretty hard. They gave up on God. They said I am done with Christ. Yet, they found turning their back on Him did not ease their pain but only made it more poignant. In time, their hearts were open again. God wooed them back. They came back to church, to worship, and to God. Hope was restored again.
God is in the midst of the brokenness working out His redemption. He is a second chance God. In fact, it is oftentimes in the midst of the pain that we discover God’s character the most. Only when we find ourselves at the end of our rope do we see the absolute necessity of God. It crystallizes our priorities. It reminds us of our frailty. It drives us back to our Lord.
We know this to be true. Yet, we so oftentimes forget this in the midst of the pain. The moment suffocates us. Emotions consume us. Doubts prevail. And we start to wonder if God is up to the task. Worship becomes stale. Prayer is a waste as God seems absent. In those moments, it is easy to fall into a hole of self-pity and resentment. Circumstances become a curse to us.
Yet, what if we looked at these moments differently? What if we began to see pain as a means to experiencing grace? What if we fully embraced the truth that redemption is only possible in the midst of brokenness? What if we embraced the pain not because it is enjoyable but because the pearl of redemption is found in the midst of it?
Granted, it is not easy do so. Yet, the alternative is that we wander in the dessert hating God and loathing ourselves rather than stopping and seeing redemption right in front of us. God calls us to be still. Stillness is easy when life is good; painfully unsettling when life is hard. Yet, the stillness can create the space to see past the emotions and experience God’s redemptive act at work in us. Pain and redemption are not opposites but intertwined as God’s means to more fully discover Him. It requires what is hard – to stop, to reflect, and to see what He is doing in the midst of the tears.