I talk a lot about how pain and trials are just as much God’s blessings as laughter and joy. We tend to equate good things with blessings and trials as something we must endure to finally get to the “good stuff”. What I’m learning, though, is that the “good stuff” is the journey. God’s blessings don’t always come with a pretty red bow. More times than not, they come with a tear, some anger, and a gentle tug from God reminding us of who we are in Him.
I experienced that yesterday.
I was asked to speak for about 5 minutes during our Sunday School class on a topic I love – ministering mercy to the needy and poor and how God’s grace is our pattern for doing so. I knew my topic and was passionate about communicating it to the class. About 15 minutes before I was supposed to speak, though, a crushing feeling of inadequacy and fear overcame me.
I prayed. I popped extra pieces of gum in my mouth. I asked people to pray. I drank some water. I slowed down my breathing. Nothing was working.
As I stepped up to the mic, everything began to fall apart. I stumbled over my words. I looked at every word I was supposed to speak with fear that they wouldn’t come out. I felt the un-comfortableness of the class and that made me uncomfortable for them. Fears of being judged overwhelmed me even though deep down I knew they weren’t. I started off on the wrong foot, and, as I hard as I tried, I couldn’t communicate what was on my heart. I was an utter mess. Every raw nerve was on display for everyone to see and I felt abandoned by God for allowing it to continue.
I was out of control and I hated every minute of it.
Eventually it all ended and I sat down next to my comforting wife. And that is when the real battle began.
Anger. Tears. Silence. Embarrassment. Out of control. Exposed. Why did those things matter to me? What did those feelings say about what I believed of God? Why was I blaming God for what happened? Why didn’t he help or protect me? I needed affirmation during this dark struggle – why do I need affirmation? God and I worked through those questions all afternoon and all night; and, I am still working through most of them with him right now. In my anguish and feeling of abandonment, He’s showing me himself.
Before, during and after that whole debacle, I had forgotten who I was. Even as I type this, I’m having to remember who I am.
I have the DNA of Christ residing in me and I’m made in his image – not in an image I can control or a situation I can remedy. I’m made in his image. I’m loved and desired by the one who calls himself “I am”. Am I still frustrated that God the Protector didn’t show up? Absolutely. But had he shown himself in that way, I wouldn’t have the privilege of working through these issues with him and knowing him deeper as a result.
That’s the real blessing – God coming along side us and saying “hey, let’s take a look at what happened today and work through that together.” It is him reminding me of who I am in Him, even during what I perceive as my worst moment ever.