It's been raining here non-stop for about a week. Rain is miserable. Rain depresses me. It makes me want to stay in bed for the entirety of my life and sleep and watch sad movies like the Notebook and eat chocolate and listen to Taylor Swift. I find it extremely hard to function and have a normal day. When the sky is crying, so should I, right? Right? So it really sucks when I have to get up for an 8:30 class, walk through the rain, get soaked despite my cute little red umbrella – SERIOUSLY LOOK HOW CUTE IT IS
– and put on a fake smile. Especially when I led worship on Wednesday and I had to walk all the way to the music building at 8:45am to sound check and fake smile and praise the Lord while simultaneously wanting to curl into a ball as far away from the stage and the piano as possible. So, moral of all of those unnecessary examples, I hate rain.
Rain = pain. When it rains, I get super unnecessarily reflective and sentimental. I play my multitude of original and pain-filled songs. I start thinking about all this crap that happened 3 years ago that doesn't even matter anymore and or the fact that kittens die every day even though I really don't even care... Sara Bareilles becomes my life soundtrack (only the sad songs, of course), which totally doesn't help the mood at all; but at the same time, makes it so much better. I mean, come on...it's Sarah freaking Bareilles.
At this point I'm going to interrupt the blog post to post youtube links to the best Sara Bareilles songs ever. You should listen to them while reading the rest of the blog because they will make your blog-reading experience and your life in general 100% better.
So anyways, so far you haven't really gotten much from this blog post except for me describing my sad life when it rains. But my thoughts have really blossomed from the idea that if rain = pain and rain = growth, then pain = growth. When it rains, people try to tell me that it's good because it makes the plants grow and it represents new life. Well, I've finally started to listen. Rain is miserable and depressing and horrible at the time, but (I'm gonna go with a cliche phrase here) the rainbow comes out after the storm. I guess that means that pain is miserable and depressing and horrible at the time, but something good has to come out of it. Now, if my logic seems flawed at this point, stick with me.
In his song Before the Morning, Josh Wilson sings, “Do you wonder why you have to feel the things that hurt you? If there's a God who loves you, where is He now? But maybe there are things you can't see, and all those things are happening to bring a better ending. Someday, somehow you'll see, you'll see.” Going along with my first blog post, I want to reiterate to you how vital it is to simply trust God, to place your life in His hands; because God truly does make beautiful things out of the broken. Out of the pain and hurt, out of the drama and the unnecessary fighting with your friends, out of the discomfort and the times when you just want to lay in bed and cry, God makes beauty and new life. Rain brings growth. Pain brings growth.
It's so hard to think about suffering this way. No one wants to suffer. No one prays, Please God, give me suffering that I might grow and learn. Well, at least, most people don't. But we should pray for this! When you ask someone when they feel closest to God, they normally answer that it's during hardships when they realize they need a bigger force in their lives and they truly only have God to hold onto. It's during the sunshine and the happiness that they feel like they don't need God and forget to pray. Because, of course, prayer is only for when you need things.
The most classic example of suffering in the Bible is, of course, Job. Job placed his whole trust and God, and then when God gave him too much trial, he flaked out and questioned God. This all goes back to seeing the bigger picture – your suffering sucks, yeah I get it, believe me it haunts me some days (especially when it rains) – but it was meant to happen. I know you've heard it all before and it doesn't help when you're actually in pain, but if you could accept the pain while it's happening and thank God, what an amazing response that would be. God will never give you more than you can handle, as 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” God not only blesses us with the opportunity to grow through trials, but He gives us a way out.
What if we thought of suffering as a blessing? I go through life constantly trying to change.Huge themes in my life are shame and guilt and failure. I always feel like I'm not good enough and often feel self-hatred because of the high standards I set for myself that I can never live up to. I always see myself in a negative light and decide to change, and then every day I fail at my objectives. For example, I decide that I need to be more loving and less rude and judgmental to everyone around me, and it starts out great and then when I fail and snap or have a mean thought I feel like a failure and like I could never change. The great song, I am New, by Jason Gray reminds me who I am. “I'm not who I was, I'm being remade, I am new. I'm chosen and holy and I'm dearly loved, I am new. Dead to the old man, I'm coming alive, I am new.” This song has really touched my life because it tells me that God is the one who is changing my life, and I am reborn and remade through Him. All of my shame and guilt are erased, and I feel loved and worthy. I am desperate to change, and I can imagine many of you are as well – we all are always works in progress. We can change not through our resolve, but through the grace of God. What if God use trials to create you as a reborn creation? What better way for you to grow, change, and learn?
God doesn't give us trials to change us and then step away and watch them change us. God is with you. Jesus suffered on the cross to the point of death; I think He knows about suffering. We are not alone. Never think you are alone.
“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.” Romans 5:3-5
God is growing, changing, and shaping us. Why, then, are we not thankful for the opportunity to go through pain, if this is the end result?
This all may be the ramblings of an 18-year-old girl who knows nothing about “real suffering”, but I've felt this issue and these words on my heart this week. This blog post may be me figuring out my thoughts...publicly, I guess.
So to bring this back to the original premise, rain = growth and rain = pain, so pain = growth. Make a little more sense now? God uses the unpleasant things for so much greater things that make you forget about the unpleasant things. God uses the broken to make the beautiful.
So next time there's a rainy day, I'm gonna look at the grass growing and the flowers blooming (except it's October so they're dead by now but shhh let me make my point) and see God growing them. Then I'm gonna think, hey, this day looks like it sucks already because it's raining and sucky outside, but any depression I feel right now is for my own good and any trial I might experience throughout the day is for an amazing, God-glorifying reason. Thank you, God, for giving me the trials to help me grow and change into the person I desperately want to be. Tomorrow it's probably gonna rain, and probably the rest of the week too...so I'm about to get a lot of practice.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39
“Do you wonder why you have to feel the things that hurt you?
If there's a God who loves you, where is He now?
But maybe there are things you can't see, and all those things are happening
To bring a better ending
Someday somehow you'll see, you'll see
Would you dare, would you dare to believe that you still have a reason to sing
Cause the pain that you've been feeling, it can't compare to the joy that's coming
So hold on you gotta wait for the light, press on and just fight the good fight
Cause the pain that you've been feeling, it's just the hurt before the healing
Oh the pain that you've been feeling, it's just the dark before the morning
Once you feel the weight of glory , all your pain will fade to memory
Once you feel the weight of glory , all your pain will fade to memory.”
Before the Morning, Josh Wilson
And just to be cliché, here's a picture of a rainbow.