Maybe God has chosen something bigger for me…something I wouldn’t have chosen for myself.
Have you ever had that thought? Have you ever encountered circumstances you didn’t want for yourself and wondered if maybe God had bigger plans for your life?
This very thought was the one that gave me courage to move forward in the midst of my painful divorce. As I read the beginning of Job, I wondered if God had talked to Satan and said, “Have you considered my servant Dena?” I will never know this side of heaven if that conversation took place, but I know it was the very thought that gave me a new perspective on my circumstances and the vision I needed to let God do a mighty work in me so He could do a mighty work through me.
And He has been so incredibly faithful.
This quote did not come from me. This quote is from Melissa, Jeremy Camp’s wife in the new movie I Still Believe. It is the true story of a very young couple who chose to move forward in their relationship despite Melissa’s diagnosis of cancer.
It’s the true story of a couple who prayed for and believed God for total and complete healing.
It’s the true story of a young couple whose faith shone in spite of their horrific circumstances.
It’s the true story of faith under fire when the trials of life are crashing down around them.
Do you know what I love about this story? Most Christian movies have the Holly wood ending where the marriage is restored, the team wins the championship, the father and daughter reunite, the dad is changed by the love of Christ and builds a relationship with his kids.
The story of Jeremy and Melissa Camp does not have the Hollywood ending. They pray for and believe God for total and complete healing. Their faith endures through the toughest of times. They hold onto God and let their light shine as cancer wreaks havoc on Melissa’s body.
While I don’t want to spoil the movie for you, it is well known that Jeremy loses his sweet wife to cancer shortly after their marriage. They don’t get the miracle they pray for, they hope for. They experience the reality of this often painful existence on this earth.
After her death, Jeremy struggles with his faith. How can He believe in a God who took away a shining star, a beautiful young lady whose faith was so incredibly strong? Why does God answer some people’s prayers for healing but not others? Why do His blessings seem to flow over some people while others—whose faith is just as strong if not stronger—experience the devastation of pain and loss?
It is a common situation I encounter, one I have walked through on so many levels. Why didn’t God heal my marriage when I prayed and begged Him to make us whole, to give us a ministry of reconciliation? Why did the young dad have to die before he could repair the relationship with his kids? Why hasn’t God opened the doors for the ministry I have dreamed of for so long? Why didn’t he heal the young mom of her cancer so she could see her kids grow up?
When we, as Christians, encounter these situations, we find ourselves doubting God’s goodness. We find ourselves angry with God. We turn our backs on Him and run away.
In reality, it is in these times of struggle that God changes us. He makes us a new creation prepared to do greater works for Him. He gives us a passion we could have never had before. He uses our stories to comfort others with the comfort we have received (2 Corinthians 1:4). If we can quiet ourselves before Him, we will find He is near the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18).
As Jeremy Camp says in the movie, “Suffering doesn’t destroy faith. It refines it.”
I know that is my story. The suffering I have endured has tested my faith. I’ve walked through the doubts. I’ve wondered why I should trust God and follow Him if all I get for my obedience is a life of pain and struggle.
God pursues me relentlessly. He fights for my affection. He reveals Himself to me in all of His goodness and grace. He reminds me whose I am and who I am. He does a mighty work in me so He can do a mighty work through me. He has never let my pain be in vain.
And as the story of Jeremy and Melissa shows, God is still faithful even in the unanswered prayers. You see, Melissa’s heart was that God would use her to change at least one life. Jeremy and his second wife, Adrienne, have been faithful to use Melissa’s story, to share her faithfulness to God. And Melissa’s life has changed many lives, including Adrienne’s. She is a star that shines brightly.
My life is not full in spite of the disappointments. It’s full because of them.
As Jeremy struggled with the loss of his wife, his dad talked about his own disappointments. It was the pain that made his life full, that gave him purpose in this life.
What about you? Can you look at your circumstances and wonder if God has chosen something bigger for you, something you would have never chosen for yourself? Are you willing to believe that suffering doesn’t destroy faith but instead refines it? Are you willing to believe God can use the disappointments to make your life more full?
Do you believe that when you get to the other side of this wilderness you can say with Jeremy Camp:
Scattered words and empty thoughts
seem to pour from my heart
I've never felt so torn before
seems I don't know where to start
but it's now that I feel Your grace falls like rain
from every fingertip, washing away my pain
I still believe in Your faithfulness
I still believe in Your truth
I still believe in Your holy word
even when I don't see, I still believe
Though the questions still fog up my mind
with promises I still seem to bear
even when answers slowly unwind
it's my heart I see You prepare
but its now that I feel Your grace fall like rain
from every finger tip, washing away my pain
The only place I can go is into your arms
where I throw to you my feeble prayers
in brokeness I can see that this was your will for me
Help me to know You are near
(Lyrics © Jeremy Camp)
Because of my trials in this life, I still believe…