Last week I was asked to speak in our midweek highschool service. Teenagers are my favorite audience, and also the one that causes me the most grief. Standing in front of a large group of teens can be intimidating with their blank judgmental stares. I am always blown away by the reality of what transpires, which is never what I had imagined. Most of the time they aren’t judging me at all, they are listening and laughing and finding themselves in my stories. As I prepared my message, I heard the Lord really clearly that I should talk with them about the importance of their own stories. I wanted to encourage them to grasp the whole picture and not believe the enemy’s lies about their past. I wanted to stress the importance of their struggles and their triumphs as well as the importance of letting God use those painful parts of their stories to speak to others that are walking the same road. Sometimes (read that: every single time) when I am preparing to tell a bunch of teenagers how to live, the Holy Spirit gently hits me over the head with the same truths. I knew that for me that meant sharing some of the painful ugly parts of my past with a room full of people that only knew me as a model church citizen, a worship leader, a Christian momma and wife. I knew it meant sharing my struggles with forgiveness, trust, anger, pride, and grief. As I shared, the most beautiful thing happened. I looked out and saw young heads nodding in agreement. I saw faces overcome with peace in knowing that things could and would get better. I heard the sighs of relief as I put into words feelings that they hadn’t known how to voice.
Romans 5:1-5 says ” Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
I am thankful that I’m not justified by my own actions, but the actions of my Savior. I am a woman healed today, but neglecting the broken parts of my story doesn’t allow people to see all the ways my faithful God has been at work for me. My tendency, as is most of yours as well, is to fix things myself. I want to try to scoop up my broken pieces and duct tape them together, but my best effort never compares to the redemption that God can bring in those tough spots. He doesn’t cover over my cracks and breaks. He mends them in such a way that the light can still shine through. Only God can do that. I can rejoice in my suffering because it brings endurance, which brings character, which brings hope, and hope doesn’t put us to shame. Isn’t that ironic? This verse says that the end result of suffering is hope, and that hope doesn’t bring shame. How is it that the enemy has us all convinced that our past suffering is something to be ashamed of? Friends, I just want to encourage you with this today. Gather your broken pieces, every single one, and drop them at the feet of the only One that can piece you back together. And when you are WHOLE in Him, don’t you dare hide those parts of you that speak of His glory the loudest. May we always be those that tell our whole story to see Jesus wholly woven within it. Broken made beautiful.
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