If you haven't read the introduction or part 1 of this series, you can click on the link "Learning to Trust Series" in the Labels section of my right sidebar to read the other posts I've written. God bless~ Rachel
A young girl in her mid-teens sat back in the chair in front of her mother’s desk. Her face was pale, shocked. Her mind a whirled, her heart thudded loudly in her chest. Finally, emotion began to streak her face as lines of pain formed. Tears clouded her eyes. Sobs caught in her throat… choking, suffocating. This moment in time wasn’t real. It couldn’t be. The last few weeks had been nightmare enough… No, not this!
Her mother was suddenly behind her. She looked at the computer screen and saw the words her daughter must have just read.
“Oh honey, you weren’t supposed to see that.”
“I didn’t mean to… I thought this email was about something else.” The daughter turned, “Is that what they really think? They really feel that way? She really feels that way?” The words were torn, gasped.
Her mother nodded.
The girl let out a ragged sigh, “I’m glad I know the truth. At least I know why we aren’t friends anymore.”
“This isn’t just about what they think of you, honey… it’s much more than that.”
“But it is about me, Mom,” the hurt of betrayal shone from the girl’s young face, “it’s all written right there!”
The girl stood and left. After reading an email her eyes should never have seen, after realizing that her best friend since the young age of seven was no longer to be her friend, after seeing ugly truth written in dark words on a glaring screen… she locked herself in her room and cried. Her fists in angry, bitter balls.
And it took me a long time to open my hands after that. It is only by the grace of God that I was able to move on. Accidentally reading that email wasn’t the end of that hurtful experience either... more misunderstanding and pain followed. Healing took a long time. I didn’t have friends to come alongside me and I was already struggling with trusting God after a very hard move to a new town… so, the door of my room slammed, my hands became tight fists, and it took a lot of grace and hard work to trust again.
But that was the story of my highschool years: learn to trust someone… get hurt. I remember sharing with a friend about my conviction to wait to have my first kiss on my wedding day. She seemed all for it, was actually excited. Then, only a few months later, she openly mocked me about my conviction in front of six or seven other young ladies that I didn’t know very well. It hurt.
As I look back, with the perspective of thankfulness, I wonder, “Am I thankful for that?” Am I thankful that I lost a friend of many years? Am I thankful that I was made fun of? Am I thankful for everything? Can I give thanks in all things?
Honestly, yes! Crazy, right? My best friend turns on me when I really need her and I can say “Thank you, God” for that?
Yes. Want me to type it out? “Thank you, God, for the time I had with that friend. Thank you for the good memories we shared as small girls. Thank you for using the hurt she caused to bring me closer to You. Thank you that I was hurt; if I hadn’t been, I would not be the person I am today.”
Another friend, not too long afterwards, mocks my conservative beliefs. Can I say “Thank you, God”?
Yes! “Thank you, God, for convicting my heart about purity. I thank you that, no matter what other people have said, You have kept me strong. I thank you for the blessing and strength You give when I am hurt. I thank you for that friend. I thank You that her words have only made me stronger in my convictions.”
So, it’s not just big things like cancer and death that God uses and deserves our thanks for! It is little personal things like losing a friend or being made fun of that He uses too.
Once again, as I give thanks, my hands open.
But then… this happens:
Anger is clear upon the young boy’s face. Words only he knows the meaning of spew out of his mouth in a jumble.
His older sister tries to take a deep breath and remain collected. “I can do this,” she thinks.
She tries to reason with the boy. All the while, frustration is boiling inside of both brother and sister. Lack of communication. Lack of understanding. All is lacking!
Then he screams words that pierce. Words of hatred shot directly at his older sister. Words said in the heat of anger by a struggling boy who has never been able to understand and grow “normally”, but still so powerful. So hurtful.
The sister’s hands clench into fists as tears roll down her cheeks.
Having a special sibling is hard. Every day there is a confusing and new, or old and blistering, struggle to trudge through. I have had horrible, hateful words flung at me… words I know he doesn’t mean… but sticks and stones break my bones and words hurt! Terribly. Especially when you love the speaker so much.
So, with a day to day struggle, how do I trust God?
The first thing you need to know is that I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY! My brother struggles and I don’t see the reason behind it. He learns, then he backslides. He improves, then an old problem we thought we were rid of rears its ugly head. It is something entrapping him; something I hate, something I want to plunge one of my medieval swords into so I can enjoy my brother without the struggles.
How do I look at that, open-handed, and thank God for this kind of hurt? Not just a personal hurt… a family hurt. One that baffles my parents, frustrates my siblings, and keeps my brother from learning the way other boys his age do.
This one is harder. It doesn’t go away with time like an ended friendship or one hurtful conversation… this one is till death do us part. And I want my brother here… all here.
“Lord, thank you that he can talk.”
Other children can’t.
“Lord, thank you that he can walk around!”
Others are bound to wheelchairs.
“Lord, thank you that he can finally read!”
We thought he wouldn’t be able to…
“Lord, thank you that he DOES love me. Thank you for his sweet foot massages. Thank you for his little notes that he leaves around and the pictures he draws. Thank you for everything about him… even the ugly stuff. You make everything glorious and he is Yours.”
And even on those days when the love doesn’t show in him, when only anger and confusion are written on his lightly-freckled, chocolate-brown eyed face… God has still died for me. God still holds my life, in this world and the next, secure. I still have reason to give thanks. I still can trust Him.
My mind keeps going back to the Last Supper… it still amazes me that, even though Jesus knew the incredible amount of hurt He would be facing in the next hours, He gave thanks to God. He would be betrayed by a friend. He would be mocked by those who had hailed Him as their king. He would be denied and deserted by His followers. He would be beaten… physically in shreds. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, He would carry the weight of every sin ever and still to be committed… He would suffer the spiritual agony of sin and then, in the final act of torture, He would be forsaken by God.
Yet, He gave thanks at supper and told His disciples to remember.
And later, as sweat-drops of blood rolled down His tear-streaked face, He would trust God. “Not as I will… but as You will.”
And He would open His hands to whatever God willed… even the evil spikes that would drive them through.
We do not have a God who is unable to sympathize with us…
Even when there seems to be nothing else to be thankful for… even when the sky doesn’t hold the beauty of a sunset… when the fields don’t hold the glory of sparkling dew in the morning… when all is bleak, ugly, and painful… the ugly-beautiful blessing of the cross is enough to make everything worth giving thanks for.
So, as I remember the cross of the long-off past, I thank God in and for the present… and can trust Him with today and forever.