It was one of those moments when you feel absolutely everything all at once, and it was so overwhelming that I found myself collapsing and surrendering any entitlement to peace or understanding that I had previously claimed. I felt the brokenness of my life and my nature, but after only a moment He spoke.
The promise of Romans 8:28 ran through my mind, and my soul heard sincere promises being whispered to my heart. I tried to fight it, clinging to my own devastation. But God said, “I never let go of you. I never lose control. I never lose sight of what I want for you. This is not the end. This is not devastation. This is just a part of the journey,” and I was too weak to fight His words.
I turned the music off and found myself in the midst of an uncomfortable and holy silence. I felt a lump of emotion begin to painfully swell at the bottom of my throat, and I changed lanes without using my blinker. In the next moments, my life was changed. God became more personal than He had ever been before. My flesh wanted to fight it–to stay angry and bitter and hurt and hard, but instead I found myself yelling into the air the most honest words my lips have ever spoken.
Through the pain in my throat I cried, “God, I don’t believe you! I don’t feel that you are sufficient and gracious and always directing me to a life of fullness. I don’t believe that all of this will work to my benefit. But I want to believe.” And only a moment later I did believe, because there started a wonderful correspondence that gracefully demanded vulnerability and hopeless surrender to purposes greater than my own happiness and comfort.
Driving alone at night seemed to do wonderful things inside my heart at this point in my life, especially when that drive involved pulsing music and cool winds through lowered windows. It just did something for me, as it does for many young people. There is some kind of redemption in being dramatic and free in front of absolutely no one, I am convinced. But that’s not quite the point.
That night didn’t change the circumstances of my life. I still had frustrating circumstances all around me–my parents were getting divorced, my closest friend had been taken from me in a single unexpecting moment, and I was broken-hearted from a betrayal that ended the richest relationship I had ever known. It’s not like my circumstances were restored and everyone lived happily ever after. But that night began an incredible journey to understanding that even in a broken life, God is still God. He is still sovereign, and His plans for His children of good and of purpose are not complicated, even by our own mistakes.
It’s hard to accept that the burdens of life are simply steps to a life richly satisfied and full. It doesn’t make sense to me. But I know in my heart that it is true, and even though I am still blind to so many of God’s purposes for my life, I have seen some amazing things birthed from pain and loss. God doesn’t waste any chance to receive glory and to bring His children closer to His love and will. Really, that’s better than anything else, anyway.
Over the years, God has shown me that it is in my broken moments that I most sincerely grow closer to Him. It’s easy to “trust God” when life is easy, but what about when uncertainty and fear are all you see? It is trust in the darkness, faith in hopelessness, surrender when directionless, and praise in devastation that strengthens my love for Him the most. And in return, I feel His love consume and direct me, and it is so unlike anything else I have ever know.
We all know pain. Some of us know it very well. But not all pain has to be a devastation to our lives. It is never meant to be. God is within even the darkest moments of our days, and choosing to search for him and wait upon him through the struggles of each day will, without fail, shed light unto our hearts. And in the moments where God speaks to us in speeding cars, healing and purpose gain a new strength. And even the dead can find life.
God is still God in the bankruptcy, in the cancer, in the divorce, in the death, in the fire. God is still God when people walk away and when the addictions don’t break. God is still God when insurance doesn’t cover the damage or the loans aren’t granted. God is still God in our broken circumstances, just as He was God when He hung on the cross to redeem the world.
All things. Even these broken days.