Friday, November 2, 2007

Painfully devastating--Wonderfully precious

Do you ever look at a moment (or day or week or month or year) of your life and wonder how it can be so painfully devastating and yet so wonderfully precious all at once? God recently blessed me and my family with one of those moments.

Almost two months ago now, God sent Vivian to us through kinship foster care. Vivian was only a few weeks old when she came to live with us, but the impact she made on our family was enormous. We all fell in love with her immediately, and when the time came for her to leave, we did not want to let her go. We were taking her to her new foster family on Sunday afternoon, so Sunday morning, we went down front at the invitation song to ask for prayers for us and for Vivian. I had seen many times the incredible support that our church family so willingly gives, but I had never been on the receiving end of its full force before. I was truly overwhelmed by the love, support and encouragement that was showered on our family that morning. As we sat and cried, we were surrounded by members of our church family that were ready to sit with us, to cry with us, to pray with us and to hurt with us. They did such an amazing job of living 1 Corinthians 12:26 where Paul says of the body of Christ, "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." Our church family did both that day: they suffered with us and they rejoiced with us in our suffering. The outpouring of hugs, tears, prayers and words of encouragement that I received that morning was what got me through that afternoon. God was using His church to offer me exactly what I needed that day. Later in the afternoon, we took Vivian to her new foster family. They are a wonderful Christian family and offered to let us come visit her any time, and for that I am so grateful to God.

When I first found out that Vivian had to move, I wondered why God would give her to us just to take her away so quickly. I wanted to be angry at Him, but I couldn't, because I knew that He knew something I didn't know. I knew He had a plan that I didn't understand at that moment. Even now, just a short time later, I can see at least part of what He was doing. First, He allowed us to have an impact in Vivian's life, even if it was for a short time. Second, He opened a door for our family to see the desperate need for foster families and for us to become part of the foster care system. Third, He taught me how to rely on Him even when I'm hurting and I don't understand what He's doing. Fourth, He gave me a new appreciation for the absolutely, indescribably wonderful church family that He has blessed me with. Through this experience God has taught me so much more that I could ever write down here, and most of it is things I thought I already knew:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." James 1:2-3

"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" Isaiah 55:8-9

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." Job 1:21b

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11

I thank God with all my heart for teaching me all these things through this trial and for loving me enough to let me hurt for a little while because He knew that it would be best for me in the long run. And I thank Him for working so powerfully through His body to encourage and uplift me. God knew what He was doing when He gave us the church. He knew that His grace is sufficiant for us, but He chose to administer that grace through His body at times. He knew that sometimes our faith in the invisible and intangible would waver. He knew that sometimes we would need tangible shoulders to cry on, audible voices to encourage us, visible tears to cry with us and physical arms to embrace us, so He gave us the body of Christ. I thank Him for that, and I thank all of you reading this who have been a part of it. Whether you spoke words of encouragement to me, prayed for me or simply sat and cried with me, thank you. Thank you for being you and thank you for letting Him be Him in you.

So what do we do with those painfully devastating moments in our lives? We trust in God and wait for Him to reveal the wonderfully precious part of it.