So these past couple of weeks have been full of epiphany-type moments, and I've been wanting to share them but not knowing how. Here's my best shot:
I hope you all have the kind of mother that I do. Whenever I was really excited about something, she wanted to hear all about it. If I was sick, she would put a washcloth on my forehead and stroke my hair until I fell asleep, only waking me if I needed some more medicine. Or if I was upset about something, she would just let me cry, no questions asked, and wait for me to speak while she held me.
Did you know that God is like that for us? Did you know the times that he relates our relationship to that of a mother and child? One of his names is El Shaddai, God Almighty Who Nourishes and Sustains, coming from the Hebrew word "shad" meaning breast. This is the characteristic of God that I think of when I'm in pain, my mental image of God in my sorrow. A couple of examples:
"Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you" (Isaiah 49:15).
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!" (Matthew 23:37).
Even Paul as an apostle of Christ describes his relationship with the Thessalonian church in this way:
"But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children" (1 Thessalonians 2:7)
One verse in particular makes me think of my relationship with my mother:
"You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?" (Psalm 56:8)
God knows our every tear, and he records them. To me, this says that he really, truly cares about us. He is never ashamed of our tears. He is compassionate, and he understands, just as he showed us through Jesus as he wept various times in his life.
Our suffering is temporary. We know this. We have a hope that someday our tears will be wiped away, forever. Even more, our tears are meaningful, valuable, healing, growing...
Our joy doesn't come from just ignoring our pain, distracting ourselves from it, or convincing ourselves it doesn't exist. And yes, we do have joy, and it is within the pain, through it, in this hope we have, that our pain echoes something beautiful in eternity.
I was crying for a close friend, and crying for a boy I've only ever seen on a video screen, when suddenly God reminded me of 1 Corinthians 15:58 - "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." The context is the resurrection of the dead - because of this hope, our labor is not in vain. I knew this when it came to things like mission work and Bible studies. I never thought to apply it to my relationships with my best friends, my work for children on the other side of the world... these things are not in vain, and not just because he loves them, but because he loves me. He loves me enough to let me do things that are valuable in my life, that change other people, that change myself.
God is my everything, in joy, in pain, now and forever.
Hello out there!
9 months ago