I was recently reading through some old journals when I went home over Christmas break. They were completely ridiculous. But as I was reading, I was totally transported back to being 17 years old, reliving each moment that I wrote about. As I look back, sometimes I'm nostalgic for the past. As I read some of the prayers I wrote out to God as a teenager, I want to cringe. My requests were so selfish and ridiculous. But there was a naivety and trust about me that I almost long for now. Today, I am a realist. I filter everything through my experiences, instead of Scripture, many times. At 17, I hadn't yet been hardened by some of life's experiences. I took God at his word. I believed that God was good without doubt.
Even so, I don't want to go back, partly because no one should have to do middle school twice... and partly because I recognize how far God has brought me. He has been making me more like him each day since then. Even though I struggle so much more with doubts 10 years later, I know that he is developing in me a real faith. A faith that has been tested, and by his grace will come out as gold. A faith that doesn't always have the answers, but trusts through pain.
I must remember that God is sovereign. I wrestle with that thought daily. I know that He is, it's just difficult for me to reconcile that with some of the events of the past. Events from my own life, and events around the world. I was reminded of this during a conversation last night. We were discussing doubts and how we deal with them, specifically when hard times come, such as death. One friend reminded us all that though God's hand is over all of these things, He is not without compassion or emotionally disconnected from His children. I needed to hear that. I can remember the graciousness of God to comfort me when my parents got divorced, and then again just months later when my mom died. He was so tender toward me that year. He still is, but I have overlooked it. I tend to get angry with God sometimes, and to doubt His goodness. I desperately needed to hear that although he wounds, he binds up. He shatters, but his hands heal.
Looking through an old journal from high school, 17 year old me can remind 27 year old me of something very important. Here is something I wrote after a time when my mom got very sick, nearly died, and then recovered.
"My mom's home now. I'm feeling excited and happy and scared at the same time. I love her so much. More than I could ever have imagined before all this happened. I love you, God, more than my parents! I have got to trust your decisions - they're always right and best. Please let me be accepting and content with what you choose to do or to let happen. Amen."
When suffering comes, God is not detached from our suffering. He understands it.
~Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
~Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
~And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
~Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?
God has a plan. A big plan, that I am a part of, but certainly not at the center of. It's with that perspective that I want to pray, to ask God for my desires, and to accept His gifts as He chooses to give them, including suffering.