Use Every Hardship - Nothing is wasted with God
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Chronic pain has been a part of my life for over 8 years now; I still remember clearly the growing sense of dread and terror as the various doctors, medicines, and therapies did not yield tangible results and searing, burning pain in my back, legs and feet slowly began to grow. In July of that year things really snowballed, and on August 5th of 2011 I decided to take FMLA leave - I thought I would rest up for a couple weeks and return to work with everything back to normal. It took four years to return to gainful employment - here at KCWN!
It’s tempting to look back on those four years from 2011 to 2015 as “The Lost Years;” 2014 was a particularly bleak stretch, when it quite literally felt like my life had no meaning, purpose, or reason other than to stoically endure pain. It’s amazing on this 16th day of January, 2019, to realize I’ve been working now at KCWN for almost 4 years; I remember thinking in those dark days my life was over, I’d never work again, and the future was hopeless.
Today my life is so utterly opposite of what I expected it would be - praise God for that! It wasn’t so long ago I would literally lose track of what day it was because they all seemed the same. Now, despite the pain I still experience every day, I enjoy the life I’ve been given and look forward to what God will bring in the future. Yes, there are times when I still am gripped with anxiety, worry, and fear - but getting through those 4 “lost years” and seeing how God used them to bring me where I am today helps defuse the fears and give me a better perspective on life.
I love Joni Eareckson Tada - she’s someone God used to shepherd me through the “lost years” with a solid, Biblical perspective on pain, suffering, and God’s purposes. It wasn’t always what I wanted to hear, but it was truth and it’s stuck with me. In her devotional titled "Use Every Hardship" she talks about how today’s struggles are used by God to prepare us for the days ahead. I loved this quote in particular: “Wasting nothing, God will use every hardship, every bruise in your life to strengthen your faith and train you in godliness. You will be ready for whatever today or tomorrow will bring.”
Now, if you’re in the middle of difficult season - an unexpected health issue, chronic illness, a broken marriage, a wayward child, depression that doesn’t seem to lift, a devastating job loss - I know these can seem like trite words. To be honest there were times I wanted to punch someone when I would hear this message. “But you have no idea how hard my life is right now; that might work for someone else but it can’t for me!” I’ve been there - and there’s no doubt it is very, very hard in ways most people likely will understand. However, there is someone who does understand - our Savior, Jesus Christ - and he does promise to travel along side us through those difficult times, and assures us that in God’s economy nothing is ever wasted.
If you feel like you’re in “the lost years” right now, my heart goes out to you. I know what hopelessness feels like; I was there for years. Don’t give up; our sight is so limited, and we have a God who is so very capable of doing things we’d never dream of in our wildest imagination. Hold on to that hope - with God nothing is wasted.