"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." Isaiah 43:2
We tend to really like this verse. I mean this is one of my favorites personally. There is something comforting in knowing we are not alone in suffering. The thing we don't like to think about in these verses (and so many other verses of the Bible), is that it says "When"... When we go through suffering, when we feel like we are drowning, when we feel like we can't make it, when conditions, circumstances, and situations are beyond our control... it's not an "if" but always a "when". The world will always ask us "why does this God you claim is good allow suffering?" and for so long we have tried to avoid answering and maybe that's because we ask Him the same thing... "Why, God?"
It's time we stop the happy go lucky "gospel" because, honestly it's not the gospel at all. The one that says if you follow this God I claim has changed my life He will make you happy all the time, every moment of every day, and you will never experience pain again...
(He said in this world we WILL have trouble, "But fear not for I have overcome the world".
He never said we wouldn't have pain on this Earth. Also, when did happiness become the standard of life? Is not joy deeper, and more lasting than happiness which can be snatched away in a moment? And is not joy known and recognized as constant versus fading happiness only because of the contrast that pain brings? It's not that God doesn't want us happy- no, but He does know that joy is lasting and more fulfilling than any amount of happiness. Anyways, I digress...)
I bring this up because I've noticed something dangerous that was happening in me a few months back(and I will get to that in a moment). Long-suffering can make you question God for sure. And sometimes us Christians are the worst about throwing our cookie-cutter band-aids on soul-wounds that require intensive surgery and rehabilitation that can only be performed to the depth and precision needed by the very One who made the soul. And I've seen myself do this with deep wounds. I remember hearing the genuine well-meant and good-intentioned cliche responses of "Well it's all apart of God's plan"... those similar responses I got from so many after I confessed my shame and deep pain of having been sexually assaulted, the replies I got when people heard that my engagement was off, or the things I kept hearing over and over again after what felt like the hundredth heartbreak of what I dreamed to be a lasting relationship.
When I tried to medicate an open wound with some healing balm that seems to do the trick for others, I found I was only creating a layer over something that needed to be extracted before I could be healed. After a while, those layers add up and create some pretty hard-core scar tissue. And if you've ever tried to cut through scar tissue, you know it's way more painful than the initial cut you got originally.
God wants to heal our scar tissue, friends. He wants it gone. And He can take it away... But only if we will put down our band-aids and ointments and surrender, letting Him take the scalpel to the most sensitive areas of our hearts.
(Back to that dangerous thing I mentioned before) A while back, I had found myself slipping, my heart was beginning to be engulfed in the scar tissue. Cut after cut, heartbreak after heartbreak, I normally would give it to the Lord but this most recent time, I had become weary because I realized I would have to try again soon. And trying again means being vulnerable again. And being vulnerable again means the possibility of being crushed again. So I began to retreat within myself, or within the scars, I should say (I am not my scars and you are not yours... you have scars, but your scars aren't who you are. They help shape you, but they don't define you) and I wasn't surrendering it to the Lord (and that is the most dangerous part). It seemed to me like it would be less painful to imprison my heart from others, rather than simply guard it and still run the risk of being rejected. So refusing deep heart-dreams set within me, pouring myself more and more into other things to distract from these particular dreams that I knew I wanted but didn't want to risk for, would be "easier". I found myself saying I didn't even want to get married anymore, that I didn't want to meet anyone, be held or loved, I didn't want to start my own family, I didn't want to try writing again, or sharing what God spoke to me, I didn't want any of it anymore. But deep down I knew it was still there no matter how much I talked it down. But the more I talked it down, the more I buried the desire (these were/are GOOD desires) along with the bad seeds planted in me from those desires being exploited, the more numb I thought I was... But it didn't work the way I hoped.
After a hysterical crying breakdown in the middle of a bookstore (nope, I'm not kidding and honestly not even ashamed about it anymore) I figured it was time to get to the root of things. So I began to go back to those dreams that felt dead in my heart and those wounded areas and I began confessing them to God. Yeah, He already knows, but speaking it to Him opened my eyes to the things I was ignoring. And I asked Him to remove the scar tissue and to extract the lies set within me while also reviving those once-dead dreams.
Yes, He said we would walk through the fires, the hard stuff of life, the pain and the suffering, but He didn't say to stay there, no... He said when you pass through, when you walk through...
We are just passing through, friends. We were never meant to unpack in the flames or make a home in the crashing waves... Never once did He say to put down a welcoming mat and hang up our family pictures in the chaos, pain, frustration, circumstances, in the heartbreak, allowing scars to be our place of so-called rest. He is meant to be, was always meant to be, our home... He is with us through the pain, walking through it with us every single step of the way, and we were meant to make our comfort, our home in His arms and in His heart. And when we come out on the other side of the fires and floods of life, we are made even stronger because the One who holds it all, every detail of our lives, was holding us and walking us through it all along, being our strength and our comfort even when the world around us felt like chaos.
Maybe you're in the fire today, in rough waters, or a tornado, whatever you want to call it... well, please know, you are not alone, there are many others in the same painful place too, people who are looking for someone to carry them through... look up, child. There is a God reaching out to set you on your feet and get you through the rough spots. And through those ugly, rough spots of life, He will bring healing to those deep wounds inside you if you will only surrender-- not to the flames or the floods-- but to the One who created them. Remember, friends... We are only passing through.