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Nothing is Wasted – How God uses Hard

Nothing is wasted? Really? God uses all the awful stuff in our lives? Trusting God that nothing is wasted is sometimes more than hard. But it's also so true.

Nothing is wasted? Really? God uses all the awful stuff in our lives?

Trusting God that nothing is wasted is sometimes more than hard.

Sometimes when life is on an easier street, we do a good job feeling like we’ve put it all in His hands, but when the speed bumps start coming and getting bigger and bigger, we start to ask questions. We start wondering “Why me?” or “Why him?” or just “Why?”

And it gets downright disastrous. How can a loving, merciful God let THIS happen? Whatever your THIS might be. I have a lot of “This”es in my life.

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Today, I stand in an easier stretch of life than some I’ve had, but harder than others, trying really hard to learn to trust so I have an anchor when things aren’t smooth.

One thing I’ve struggled with is why God didn’t open my eyes sooner, why wasn’t I saved earlier. I was striving to be good all by myself, and falling short, then falling away. I sometimes get so frustrated that I wasted so many years of this too short life being angry, snarky, bitter, negative, and miserable without Jesus.

And I don’t know why, but I know God loves me. He wouldn’t have let me go through something without purpose. This is where I cling to a passage in Romans.

Romans 8:28 ESV “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

The trials preceding this present darkness had purpose in the preparation for this moment. Nothing is Wasted in our lives.

And I cling to the times in my life that I now can see God’s hand in retrospect. The ladies I understand better because I’ve worn their shoes. I’ve seen how nothing is wasted in my life.

One story, not mine, that I think is particularly beautiful (even in the middle of the mess) is that of a dear friend.

She became ‘surprise’ pregnant before her oldest son’s first birthday. Having babies so close was already going to be ‘interesting’, but then during her husband’s deployment, she learned the baby was chromosomally gifted (Down’s Syndrome).

She was alone and struggling with what the diagnosis would mean for her baby and family.

God doesn't just allow us to suffer needlessly. He uses everything. Nothing is Wasted

She then spent the next two years living in a world of appointments, specialists, therapists, and surgeons. Her whole life became an emergency. She had two children under two with significant needs, all-the-time.

Hard doesn’t begin to touch it. Many days were joyful, but even good days, had challenges so demanding and draining.

I would get tired FOR her because she didn’t have time to be tired. We cried together on the phone many times. This new reality was no joke. She was on her own often due to her husband’s military obligations, struggling to juggle the needs of both boys and herself.

She was worn out, but growing stronger, finding her stride. Then he was diagnosed with a form of leukemia.

And somehow she came out swinging. This battle is ridiculously hard. She has to live two hours away from her oldest son and husband for six 30 day cycles of chemo. Six months of living in the hospital, which has unforeseen expenses, like gas money and $300 a month parking which are not covered by insurance, or more recently a bill for $128,000, that she handled in stride, knowing that God has an answer.

She is watching one son lose his ginger locks to chemo, while her oldest begs her not to leave him again. She has to live in isolation for about a third of each cycle so she doesn’t risk getting a germ that could kill her baby in his immuno-compromised state. I don’t want to sugar coat it; this is a whole new level of suckitude.

BUT – from the outside I can see perhaps what she can’t yet. How unbelievably gorgeous she is.

She had a week to wrap her head around the diagnosis and make plans to live at the hospital (2 hours from home) for most of 8 months. Somehow, she still made binders of medical information and care packages for the nurses!

And she was still calling to check on me!! She is witnessing and ministering to her fellow moms on the hospital floor. Despite being covered in poop and puke daily, they are having dance parties, shaking it off with Taylor Swift. That is Will’s favorite song, no matter how badly the chemo is making him feel, he can summon dance moves for Taylor.

If you want to see another cute one, Click here to see the Facebook Post by William’s Warriors of his mom, nurses and even the doc getting in on the action. Definitely youtube worthy!

None of this is the easy part, but I can see that the trials preceding this present darkness gave her the tools and strength to handle the cancer and all its fallout. Even as she battles exhaustion, I know that she never could have handled this if she hadn’t run a lifetime of metaphorical marathons for the past two years.

The trials preceding this present darkness had purpose in the preparation for this moment. #Nothing is Wasted Click To Tweet

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

We all love this verse and cling to it in the dark times, but remember verses 4-10? God told them to settle down, build houses, marry, have children, and watch those children get married. The exile was to last 70 years, more than a lifetime for many hearing this message, but they were to have hope that God hadn’t forgotten them, and his plan included the exile.

How do you hang onto hope when the darkness of a loss or a particular struggle might last your entire life?

We have to know that nothing is wasted. Nothing!

A difficult day or a lifetime thorn in our flesh is part of God’s perfect plan for all those who follow him. But His plan stretches into eternity; a lifetime is but a blink. Our perspective of trust has to believe that God uses the ripples of our lives for purposes beyond us.

I think about my sweet friend, who last night lay with red rimmed eyes, begging for sleep, as her son was wild and miserable at 1 a.m. But woke ready for another dance party. Her witness, her love for her son, her passion and exuberance are reaching people for Christ even as she grows in grace and beauty, even as the Lord smooths out her rough edges.

When I’m broken by life, I can always call her – always. Hours away, I didn’t know what I can do for her. I hosted a fundraising site to help with expenses, but spent hours in prayer as my biggest contribution.

Sometimes in the darkness, that quiet love, prayer and emotional support, is more powerful than we know.

Friends and strangers came together and raised enough to cover all their expenses. God showed her tangibly He was present even on the cancer ward. He used us to encourage and minister to her.

Originally, I wrote this two years ago, but even more than in the moment, I can see nothing is wasted. Through this she ministered to many, living Christ in the midst of chaos. Through her challenges, I’ve grown and learned as a friend and as a mother about sacrificial giving.

Now, on the other side of one son’s cancer, she can see how much God used that difficulty in her life to bring her into the lives of others, to instruct her heart, to refine her for His purposes.

Unfortunately, God used it to prepare her for the coming hurdles of her older son’s cancer diagnosis.

She is in the trenches again. My friend is an expert in fighting with the insurance company. Her son is dealing with chemotherapy. She is praying for her oldest son to live while dealing with a precious newborn. Her middle son, who is adorable and CANCER FREE, is really challenging on his best days.

But God walked with her to this point. He is continuing to work through her. Even in her RAW honesty about hard, she gives God the glory and throws herself into His arms.

Thankfully, she knows nothing is wasted in this second challenge of cancer.

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Our Jar: Sanctification of our lives

Sanctification is a beautiful process of how God cleans up the mess we've made of our lives, if we let him change what we pour into our lives.

Sanctification is a beautiful process of how God cleans up the mess we’ve made of our lives, if we let him change what we pour into our lives.

Watch this wonderful illustration about how prayer changes darkness in our lives when we open the gates wide and pray.

What a moving illustration about how God is pouring His light into us as we pray, changing our perspective in even the darkest circumstances.

Lately, I’ve had one issue weighing on my heart, sanctification: being transformed into holy beings. The challenge of sin and accountability in the modern body of believers is difficult because we have to balance love with obedience to God’s word.

I wrote about the process of sanctification earlier in my post The Race Set Before Us, and the struggles with judgment and criticism in Winning the Mommy Wars.

1 John 1:7 ESV  “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Our fellowship with each other is important because we can support each other in the sanctification process. It is hard being the only person in a group to stand up for what is right.

In talks with my stepson, who has not accepted Christ yet, I share my faith. Partially, his concerns are about giving up the “fun” things in life. He is struggling with choosing Christ because of the intense peer pressure of high school and his fear of being the only one choosing not to swear or talk about sex.

I want to help him understand why I do choose to be different from the world even though, it is sometimes hard to stand for Christ.

I created this video to demonstrate my experiences in cleaning up my heart so sanctification isn’t such a mystery, being appropriately transparent so he sees that my need for God too.

I don’t want him to think this change in me is anything less than the miracle of Christ in my life.

I want my children to see my sanctification as the miracle of Christ in me that it is. Click To Tweet

Ephesians 5:8 ESV “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.”

We were talking about how to clean up our lives. He was overwhelmed by how daunting a task that seems.

Thanks to original sin, we humans start out pretty messy and only get worse through our contact with the world.

God wants to clean us up. He wants to set us apart for holy use, but are we preventing Him from doing that? Are we getting in our own way? I was.

What are we putting into our jar?

This video is an object lesson I created to show what we allow in our lives matters, whether it is friends, television, music or movies.

Are we filling ourselves with darkness faster than we’re filling ourselves with the light?

Hard to be sanctified when we're pouring in darkness faster than we're letting in His light. Click To Tweet

Some days, I feel weighed down by the abundance of worthless garbage the world pours into our lives. We live in the world; we can’t hide from it, but we can be more cautious about what we let in.

Philippians 4:8 ESV “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Sometimes, it isn’t easy to know where to start. I decided to make one choice at a time, using Philippians 4:8 as my guide.

Sanctification is a step by step journey.

Instead of just eliminating worldly things, I started adding more Godly things: praise songs, praying, reading the Bible and listening to sermons.

I ran out of room for the world when I ran TO God, adding in good things like praise. Click To Tweet

The more good things I chose, the less the world appealed. In time, I became truly changed, more full of God’s light, hopefully a growing witness of God’s grace and love.

Matthew 5:16 ESV  “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

What once felt like things I’d have to give up to be “in” with Jesus, were really weights keeping me from experiencing true freedom in Him.

I can’t make my children choose God, but I can live the JOY I have in letting go of the world.