Yesterday broke my heart. again. It is the same thing, just a year later and simply an unfolding of more consequences streaming from the same terrible situation. Specifics aside, we’ve all been there to varying degrees, I think. Sin will always take you places you never agreed to go and cost more than you were ever willing to pay. That’s for certain. I am learning that it truly is more like a disease than I realized.
My work/studies in health promotion and preventive medicine have proven to be a faith lesson. If you look at someone who has unhealthy habits in his or her lifestyle, those habits lead to poor health, which can also lead to disease, which can lead to further poor health and the individual can find themselves with health conditions stemming from one bad habit that they never signed up for. An easy example (not picking on anyone) is a smoker. Lung cancer is the most widely-discussed potential health threat and it is a gamble that maybe smokers are willing to take. But once you add in the other things that cancer is linked to (hypertension, obstructive lung disease, stroke, coronary heart disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm, acute myeloid leukemia, bladder cancer, cancer of the cervix, cancer of the esophagus, kidney cancer, cancer of the larynx, mouth cancer, pancreatic cancer, cancer of the pharynx (throat), stomach cancer, infertility, preterm delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and lower bone density/osteopenia to name a few) the exchange of health verses payoff seems less worth it.
Oh the cancer that I have invited in my life because things got hard and I thought I knew better than God…the secondary and tertiary effects are innumerable. I know I am not saying a new or revolutionary wisdom or any grandiose discovery on the human condition. But I just am feeling this reality so poignantly in my life right now.
But here’s the neat thing. I am most poignantly feeling God’s love and mercy and tender refinement. He is so good to not let our mistakes destroy us. The difference between the cancers we know and battle on this earth, and the spiritual cancers that we yield to God is that God will use them in His mercy to heal us. In Christ, everything is redemptive, even pain and sickness and brokenness. God never wastes anything, and He loves us too much to let our heartaches count for nothing.
I am so desperately praying a two-fold plea in this: that He would continue to use the difficult things in my life to bring refinement and godliness in me, and that He would use these things to bring Himself glory in other’s life, despite the glaring fact of my mismanagement of things in the past. I admit that I have been curious to the point of bordering on lack of faith of how He can show Himself, even through gross sins, to those that I hurt or those who don’t even believe in God.
I was able yesterday to point to God and His faithfulness in the midst of heartbreak to the self-proclaimed atheist who had the task of bearing the bad news to me. He said that he wished he could experience that kind of faith. Oh, LORD, the mercy you have on this sinner to use me in my weakest moments on this earth. Please let it not be for nothing. Sometimes people say nice things that they think you want to hear because they love you and they want to make you happy or say the thing they think you want to hear. Maybe that’s why he said that. But I do pray that just maybe there was something more. And if so, then my pain and suffering is no longer about the bad choices, but they become for a greater glory and they become something that is a sacrifice to the Father. I used to think that James 1:2-4 didn’t really apply to me because I did not live in a country where Christianity meant real martyrdom:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
But He even redeems my reason for suffering, not just the outcomes. He gives the reasons value because they are now suffered in order to glorify Him, not simply as a consequence.
Ironically, my Bible study over the past couple of days has been focusing on patience and long suffering in both godly relationships and in painful circumstances. He knew I was going to need some reserves to fight through and to cling to Him in this newest battle. He is so good to me.