I’ve put this off a long time… and have honestly preferred to not write the third part of this series that I committed to in 2011. The majority of you most likely have not read PART 1 or PART 2 and this post will have no context without them. So, I’d encourage you to take a couple minutes and grab the back-story before processing this one.
My journey has consisted of many surgical procedures related to my kidney issues. When I wrote PART 2 I was in the middle of the most recent two procedures which took place in 2011. The primary reason I have avoided concluding this series, I think, is that what I had hoped would take place though those surgeries did not. Also, to be really honest, I don’t like to talk about it all. As you might expect, I hoped and prayed that I would never again struggle with the pain following those surgeries. After each surgery there is a period of what I would call ‘false comfort’ because things always seem to drastically improve for a season. Then, at some unpredictable rate, a portion of the symptoms inevitably return. However, as of today things are still better than they were during the weeks leading up the final round of surgeries (thankfully). It is hard to characterize the degrees of difference because things can be sporadic but it is at least 50% better than it was beforehand.
In the quiet of my spirit I have really wrestled through the purpose of it all. My questions are no different than the ones you have asked yourself… and asked God. Whether a job loss, physical ailment or disease, loss of a loved one or family member, or just a pile of circumstances that went nothing like how you hoped they would, we have all struggled with why God acts in these ways.
I believe God will continue to use circumstances such as these to sculpt our hearts throughout our days. Yet at the core, I have found a common denominator of God’s work in my life through my story can be characterized by the word BELIEF. You see, we often repeat truths very well. We are often experts at knowing all the right answers to the various situations that people face around us. We have our ‘go to’ phrases which are meant to bring aid to others who are in crisis. Whether it has something to do with ‘God’s will’ or ‘God’s plan’ or ‘all things working together for good’ we can pull from our deck of truths when a card needs to be played.
Yet, belief is truly embracing biblical truths when you find yourself in the depth of situations and circumstances that have shattered your expectations. I am not at the end of this journey and my questions and wrestling are continuing. However, I have seen and experienced God working amidst this struggle in undeniable and life-changing ways.
In my life, my belief had never been called to task in such an obvious way. I was afforded a life where the truths I repeated were sufficient in informing my belief, so I thought. One of the greatest areas of growth in my life through this journey has been struggling to honestly apply and embrace the truths I said I believed into the realities of my unanswered questions. I could construct a very persuasive argument that would tickle the ears of this world if I shared a perceived inconsistency between a ‘loving’ God and my personal experience. Yet that argument would be nothing less than heretical and violently unbiblical.
The gift of journeying through pain has forced my intellect (often confused with belief) to be reconciled to the way I view and live my life. If I truly believe that God desires for me to mature in my belief and relationship with him (ex. Eph 4:11-15), then I must believe in the value of His tools which bring that to fruition in my life. God has used this ‘thorn in my side’ and the ensuing unanswered questions that I ask to create something more than words and knowledge in my heart. He has used circumstances that I would have never chosen to give me the purest picture of belief that I have ever known.
My belief in the plan and promises of God have been pushed down from my head into my heart as I have experienced His truth amidst what I, at times, have thought were unanswered prayers and great despair.
Many of you who read this have been through and are continuing to go through much more difficult circumstances in your own life than myself. How have you seen God work in your heart amidst your unanswered questions?