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Shattered Matters - Girlfriends in God - November 28, 2014

November 28, 2014
Shattered Matters
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

(2 Corinthians 4:7-9)

Friend to Friend

I’ve been through hard times. I’ve asked the question why on many occasions. I’ve begrudgingly said goodbye to family and friends in order to say hello to strangers and scary new places. I know the matter of being shattered.

There was a season when Brad and I lived in four different homes, in four different states, within four years. It was a very difficult time of my life. From Ohio to Pennsylvania to New York to North Carolina, we made our way across the East Coast with three little ducklings in tow. Back then, the uncertainty of what tomorrow held in store caused me a great deal of stress. A certain muscle in my back is twitching just thinking about it.

The chaos began back in 2000…

The spring and summer were crazy busy. We lived in a snuggly little town just outside Akron, Ohio, where Brad and I had settled after we got married in 1993. God had just nudged me into public music ministry. He asked me to join Him on a new faith adventure, and I said, “Yes!”

So, after much praying and planning, I sifted through a list of songs I had written, connected with a producer, flew to Nashville, and recorded my first CD. Did I mention that I also had two very active little boys who were under the age of three, and that I was pregnant with our third child? (Go ahead, laugh at me. The timing didn’t make sense to me either.)

I was a stay-at-home mom. The concerts that were scheduled to follow the CD release were all within hours of our home, so we traveled as a family. God had swung open the doors of ministry opportunity and I was delighted to step through them.

At the same time, Brad was doing really well with his company. His boss had nothing but good things to say about him, and was excited to help him get promoted. It was also a time of rapid and rich spiritual growth for Brad. He became the leader of our adult Sunday school class at church and led admirably. I was so proud of him.

We loved our church, were plugged into ministries, and got along famously with our neighbors. We were comfortable and content. Very settled. Life was good.

Now, I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that God doesn’t necessarily always want us to be comfortable and content. (I say that tongue in cheek, of course.) Our comfort turned to chaos quickly when, just weeks before Kennedy was born, Brad accepted a job promotion that would uproot us from Akron, and transplant us in Philadelphia.

Saying goodbye to our friends, our neighbors, and our church family was torture. Brad and I had blossomed into young adults in Ohio. We exchanged our sacred marriage vows there. Gave birth to our babies there. We grew in faith as a family there.

With each farewell, the weight of sadness grew heavier. When moving day arrived and all the boxes had been loaded, we hugged our neighbors one last time then drove away. As our home faded from sight in the rearview mirror, I realized that a part of my heart would always live in Ohio.

Once we got to our new house, I didn’t know which way was up. I cried buckets of tears out of frustration, exhaustion, and sadness. Tension and stress became my new closest friends. The moment I said yes to God, so much of what had been comfortable and familiar was stripped away from my life. I don’t think for one second that the timing was coincidental. God allowed what was comfortable to be removed. He then led me to a place where I would have to trust Him and lean on Him in ways I never had before.

Broken became my middle name.

I hung up my “microphoned-ministry call” when we moved to our new home. The only thing I could do was hunker down, spread out my motherly wings, and care for the babes in my nest. I changed diapers, chased toddlers, and cherished naptimes for almost a year. Friendships blossomed between me and other young moms, and the ladies’ Bible study at church became a vital link to both God and other women. As I studied Scripture, the Lord began to birth new songs in my heart, and although I wasn’t serving in music ministry right then, I processed my faith and life by writing songs.

Fourteen months after our move, when the chaos had finally turned to calm, Brad hesitantly announced that it was time to move again. His boss wanted him to take over a territory in Syracuse, New York. I thought perhaps we were the punch line in someone else’s joke. I’m not a huge fan of snow. Brad and I always said we wanted to live in a sunny, warm place. Now we were heading further north. Yuck. We prayed fervently about the move and felt God leading us in that direction, but I wondered if God’s compass was broken. As we packed boxes once again, questions danced around in my mind.

Had I heard Him wrong?

Why in the world would God call me to a task and then herd me across the country like a nomad’s cow?

Starting over in New York had a strangely familiar feel. The first few months were busy and lonely. I spent a lot of time meeting neighbors, figuring out the aisles at the new grocery stores, and finding out the best routes to take to Wal-Mart, to the post office, and to the pediatrician’s office. Finding a new church was a whole nother challenge. But, in time, the matters of being shattered about the move eventually lessened as we assimilated into the community and plugged into a wonderful church family.

The Syracuse summers were lush, but the winters were long. Though snow fell often, to the tune of 150 inches a year, God’s grace fell even more. He blessed me with deep friendships, intense Bible studies, and godly leadership from the pastors at our church. Brad and I immersed ourselves into the community, even though we anticipated that our time in New York would be brief. And we began to settle in.

Then, seventeen short months after we unpacked in Syracuse, a phone call from a friend in Charlotte, North Carolina, resulted in our packing for another move. Brad accepted a new, can’t-pass-it-up business opportunity, and we moved to sunny North Carolina.

What an exhausting journey. With each move I experienced both bitter and sweet moments, but the aftertaste of the bitter moments seemed to linger a little longer than the sweet ones.

It was a difficult four years.

I’ve heard it said, “If the mountain was smooth, you couldn’t climb it.” There’s a lot of truth to that. Through the mountain of pain I scaled in each move, God brought me closer to Him and taught me important lessons that I surely wouldn’t have learned otherwise. Lessons about trusting God with my friendships, with goodbyes, with loneliness, with my family, with anger, stress, and faith. Through it all, I’ve come to know this for sure: in all things—even the hard things—God is sovereign and can be trusted.

He can be trusted with your family and with your finances. He can be trusted with your health and with your wealth. He can be trusted in times of victory and in times of misery. He can be trusted in your sunny celebrations and in your shattered matters.

I know from personal experience that in the painful, tear-filled days, God is still good and can still be trusted. I know He is faithful. I’ve witnessed His strength in my weakness. I’ve felt His comfort in times of loss. And though we aren’t always kept from experiencing shattered matters, we never have to endure them alone.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me;

he drew me out of deep waters.
(Psalm 18:16)

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord,

Thank you for always being by my side. Thank you for giving me your strength and grace when I am simply weak and broken. Please help me look to you in every shattered matter.

In Jesus’ name,


Now It’s Your Turn

Read Psalm 34, then write out your favorite verses and commit them to memory.

NEED PRAYER for a shattered matter? Let’s meet on my blog to PRAY for one another today. It is such a beautiful thing when women of God join together in prayer! I will also add a few sharable songs and Scripture pins to encourage you further.

More from the Girlfriends

Today’s devotion is an excerpt from Gwen Smith’s book, Broken Into Beautiful, which features Gwen’s testimony, along with Scriptural truths and stories of how God has brought restoration the hearts of many other women who had painful life wounds. Explore God’s purpose and hope for your life today as you read Broken Into Beautiful. To order the book, go to Amazon, your favorite Christian bookstore, or for a signed copy, order from Gwen’s web store.

Is there someone you know who needs to read this message? Forward this devotion. Post it on your social media sites. Share the hope of healing.

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