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Girlfriends in God - July 13, 2010

July 13. 2010 

Power in Pain 

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth 
Romans 8:28 (NIV) "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God."

Friend To Friend 
I don't always get what God is doing.  Pain, loss, and dark times are a normal part of life but sometimes I don't understand why it has to be that way.  In my faithless arrogance, I question God and ask Him to explain His actions. 

At times, it seemed as if I have been a student in the school of pain - with no hope of ever graduating.  My father was an alcoholic while my mother battled and eventually died after a twenty year war with cancer.  I was molested by a man who was not only our family doctor, but a trusted family friend.  I assumed I would have children one day until the fertility specialist looked at my husband and me and, with an icy stare, delivered the life shattering reality that we would never have biological children.  Severe clinical depression took me out of ministry and much of life for two years and to this day, is a constant foe.  My husband has dealt with heart rhythm problems for years.  After surviving fifteen cardio versions as well as cardiac arrest, Dan became the proud owner of a defibrillator followed by a medical procedure called an ablation, an eight hour surgery during which the cardiologist located and burned away the faulty electrical pathways in Dan's heart.  I could go on … but I think you get the picture.  A helicopter always seems to be landing somewhere in my life.

Through it all, I have been completely broken, experienced overwhelming restoration and learned to embrace authenticity and transparency as friends.  I have responded the wrong way.  I have turned away from God in anger and disgust only to crawl back to his waiting arms filled with grace, mercy and love.  I have discovered that Jesus Christ is enough and that no one can take my place in his heart.  I have come to realize that I originated in the heart and mind of God and that God created me in response to the unique plan he has for my life.  God has used the pain to carve away everything that did not look like his Mary.

Some lessons cannot be learned in the light.  Not all treasures are reserved for the darkness.

In the famous lace shops of Belgium, certain rooms are used for spinning the finest and most delicate designs of lace.  Each room is completely dark except for one small window.  It is through this tiny window that light shines directly on the pattern of lace.  A solitary spinner works in the darkness and must sit where the narrow stream of light will fall on the thread.  The choicest pieces, the most beautiful designs are created when the worker himself is in the dark and his work is in the light. 

Life can be much the same.  The most powerful lessons are often learned from the greatest pain and discovered in the darkest places.

I witnessed the very definition of strength as I watched my mom battle cancer.  When I am discouraged and ready to give up, I think of her and remember the truth that God is enough.  

When we learned that we could not have children, we pursued adoption.  I simply cannot imagine life without our son and daughter.  How we got them is not nearly as important as the fact that we got them - God's way.  I cannot begin to tell you the truths I have learned about my own relationship with God through the process of adoption.

Clinical depression keeps me on my face - before God - and is a constant reminder that anything that makes me cry out to God can be counted as a blessing.

Yes, pain will come.  We will all make mistakes and struggle to know and do God's plan, but when we learn to harness the power of pain, we will experience restoration, renewal and freedom.

Let's Pray 
Father, sometimes my faith is weak.  Instead of trusting You, I demand an explanation.  Thank You for loving me - even when I am a spiritual brat!   Please help me grow in faith and become the woman you created me to be.  Teach me how to embrace the power of every painful circumstance, knowing You will redeem that pain for good in my life.  I praise You for Your forgiveness and for the healing I have found in it.  Thank You for making a way for me to get to You!

In Jesus' name, 

Now It's Your Turn 
Read Hebrews 12:11.  Compare your definition of "discipline" to the one found in this verse. 

What experiences in your life have "trained" you to embrace the power of your pain? What truth(s) did you learn from each experience?  Record the answers in your journal.

Read and memorize 1 Thessalonians 5:16.  Are you ready to choose joy - even in the midst of your pain?  Tell God about it.

More From The Girlfriends 
I receive so many emails from women in pain who are desperately searching for some kind of purpose in it all.  My heart breaks at the loss some of you have experienced.  I have a message for you, friend.  Hope is alive!  Hope has a name - Jesus Christ!  You may not be able to see His hand at work or understand what He is doing in your life, but one day, He will "yank" your question marks into exclamation points - and you will see clearly what He has done.  Until then ... we all must walk by faith - not by sight.

Free MP3!  Visit Mary's website to download her free MP3, I Love a Good Plan!

Need help?  Join other women across the world in Mary's Online Bible Study, Light for the Journey. It's Never Too Late to be Great is the current series and is based on the fascinating lives of Samson and Delilah.  Do you think you have made too many mistakes and had too many failures in your life for God to love, forgive and work through you?  No matter where you have been or where you are now - it is not too late!  Don't miss this study!  When you enroll, you also have access to all of the 2010 studies we have done so far.  Check it out!

Going through a tough time?  Get Mary's new DVD, Strength for the Storm and find fresh hope that will strengthen you for the hard times you are facing.

Need a friend?  Connect with Mary on Face book or through email.  She loves hearing what God is doing in your life!

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