After many years of overwhelming difficulty and waiting, I had hoped for some relief. But instead, four years ago, I entered a season of increased difficulty and continued waiting. I had hoped my health would improve. It grew worse instead. I had hoped I wouldn’t have another difficult child to raise. Then one of my children suddenly developed an illness that makes regulating her emotions and behavior very challenging. I had thought I’d finally be able to follow a dream that God had placed on my heart years before, but I had to stop again just as I was gaining momentum. I felt alone, uncertain, and exhausted.
I had been worn thin already, and I didn’t know how I would handle more.
“What is the point of all I have been through,” I asked, “if I’m just going to be back here?” It seemed as if, despite my faithfulness and trust in God, I had landed in a worse place than I had been, and I began to expect more of the same sort of downward spiral going forward.
As a result, I found myself floundering and trying to keep everything together while also grasping for something I could hold onto. I tried to continue to turn to God, but it was more difficult than ever. I had always found purpose and joy in my suffering and waiting before, but suddenly my story felt hopeless and directionless, like a series of disconnected and meaningless strokes of the pen.
Scrolling through my Facebook feed one day, I came across two graphics in back-to-back posts. The first one stated, “I trust the next chapter because I know the author.” The second, “God is still writing your story. Quit trying to steal the pen. Trust the author.”
Reading these two quotes, it was as if something suddenly connected.
“My child,” God seemed to say to me, “this chapter you’re in has been difficult. You cannot fully see what I have been doing in it, but when some day you do see it, you will come to love this chapter as well. I want you to hand the pen to Me. Trust Me with it. Watch and see what I do. I am writing beauty into your life. I am redeeming this and weaving it into the rest of your story.”
Perhaps my own expectations had not been met, but that did not mean the time had been wasted or that nothing worthwhile had been happening. Something was happening beneath the surface. Of that, I was sure. God had been writing in the silence, transforming me and my story even as I sat in my disappointment and grief.
I felt like the disciples on the road to Emmaus – the disciples who had put their hope in Jesus because of what they had thought He was going to do. They had hoped He would redeem Israel in a way that they could see with their eyes and experience in their flesh, but Jesus cautioned them that they were seeing as men see, not as God sees. The redemption that was prophesied and that He fulfilled through His suffering and death was so much deeper and more profound than anything they had in mind. Where the disciples saw failure and disappointment, Jesus showed them great triumph.
Jesus interpreted the Scriptures and demonstrated to the two disciples how this story of salvation was woven throughout its entirety, from Creation to the very moment in which they were speaking. By breaking bread with them, He also revealed that this story had another chapter that had not yet been written in time. Each seemingly disconnected, messy story and each imperfect man or woman played a part in the entire narrative that led to this amazing unfolding and transformation. And Jesus’ own Passion and death, the event that the disciples had been bemoaning, played the pivotal role in the Father’s salvific plan.
God also has a direction for our lives. Each of our lives fits into this larger, universal narrative of salvation, but God is also working out our own salvation within our own stories. Each circumstance in our lives is a part of a larger plan. Each imperfect step we take and each messy, seemingly disconnected event is a piece that He is using to prepare our hearts for His abiding within us and for our transformation and redemption in Him.
Far from meaningless, all our struggles and all our little deaths serve a greater purpose, in union with Jesus’ death and Resurrection. Only our Lord, the Divine Author, understands the story and knows our next chapter. Only He can write the intricate, hidden details that weave everything seamlessly together. He writes beauty into our lives in the most surprising ways, redeeming and transforming us, in Himself, in the process.
When it seems as though our stories are hopeless and the lines on the page meaningless and disconnected, He is also writing words that we don’t see, infusing our stories with great depth and redemption.
Image courtesy of Unsplash.