We’ve all experienced difficult seasons in our lives–the seasons that make conquering our respective mountains and demons seem simply unfathomable. We’ve spent many days searching for a deeper meaning to our pain and suffering–lost in our feelings of defeat and preoccupied by our failures and shortcomings. We’ve been engrossed in our pasts that haunt us in the shadows of the light.
I can’t tell you how many times I have felt unworthy as a follower of Christ, or how many times I have been so caught up in my sin that it has prevented me from truly recognizing Christ’s love for me. I’ve thought that my sin was too great and too damaging to be truly loved by God. I’ve thought that because of my past mistakes, I really couldn’t be used to do God’s work.
Why would He want me? I’m such a mess.
What can I do? I’m too broken to do important things.
You see, I was once wrapped up in the notion that God’s love for me was conditional–something that would come and go according to my choices and actions. As I read that sentence over, that idea seems so small-minded. God’s love is anything but conditional. God loves us despite our sin and past mistakes. Despite our frailty as fallible human beings in a fallen world. I realize now how truly wrong I was. Not just because in my weakness I believed the lies of the enemy (who would love nothing more than to come between me and my God), but also because I had reduced God’s deep and profound love to something so petty and so…limited.
Timothy Keller once said that we more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time, we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. Perhaps it is human nature for us to believe that our sin is too great for God to love us. After all, His love for us is a mystery. It is something that we believers fail to fully comprehend, and something we spend our entire lives trying to figure out.
His love for us is radical and transcendent. It would make sense that we doubt it.
But we shouldn’t.
Why, you ask? The Bible is one great love story; Scripture itself lives and breathes God’s intricate and overwhelming love for His people. If you are feeling unloved, lost, confused–if you are without hope and find yourself dead in your sin–look to the Scripture and be reminded of God’s divine love. Be alive in Christ! Lamentations 3:21-24 says, “Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is my inheritance; and so in Him I put my hope.”
This is such a comforting part of the Gospel because it reminds us that every day is a new day. More so, I believe it means that we shouldn’t let yesterday take up to much of the present. In other words, leave your past where it belongs–in the past! God’s love and mercy is a continual and sure thing. Why should we fret over a sure thing?
I believe that we should show ourselves (and each other) grace. God shows us grace every day, right? Why do we not extend ourselves the same consideration? We need to remember God’s faithfulness, not just in our imperfect nature, but because of it. In my experience, I have come to know that God never wastes a hurt. He uses certain seasons to teach us, to stretch us and grow us into the people we are meant to be.
Awhile back, I read Stasi Eldredge’s “Becoming Myself.” In her book, she wrote of embracing real change and letting go of past wounds in order to step into the life that God has created for us—the life that He has called us to. This excerpt especially spoke to me: “Though our past has shaped us, we are not our past. Though our failures and sin have had an effect on who we are, we are not defined by our failures or our sin. Though thought patterns and addictions have overwhelmed us, we are not overcome by them and we will never be overcome by them. Jesus has won our victory. Jesus is our victory.”
You see, even though we all face our own demons, battles, obstacles—whatever you want to call them—we have already won because Jesus has gone before us. A season is temporary, but it is not wasteful. What you are going through is for a purpose. God’s purpose. Recall Thessalonians 5:24, which says, “The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.”
In times of uncertainty, when you are riddled by anxiety and paralyzed by fear, remember that you already know the outcome: Jesus is your (our) victory, and He will do it because He promises you (and us) so. So instead of being stuck in our brokenness and savoring our pain and past selves, let us remember that we are new beings through the great sacrifice Christ made for us.
Let us use our brokenness for a greater purpose. Because believe it or not, God finds great use out of our brokenness–not our flawlessness. He loves us far too much to leave us as we are. I especially love 1 Peter 5:10, which says, “After your season of suffering, God in all His grace will restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.”
I think of all the things that God has done in my life—the freedom He has so graciously given me—and it brings me to tears. I am so undeserving. I am not worthy of Grace. In spite of that, though, He continuously pours it out over me.
Because He loves me with perfect love.
He took my brokenness and made me whole. He filled cracks and crevices within my heart that I never even knew existed.
His love made me new.
I wrote this prayer some time ago in an old journal in hopes that it would help me remember God’s power and provision over my life: “Father, I ask that You be the center of my heart, the very center of my life. Help me find rest in Your grace and Your mercy. Help me surrender all of my worries and fears to You. Father, I ask that You lift me up when I am weak and drained and wash all of my anxieties and sin away. You are the one, true God and I know that I can do all things through You. You give me strength! Please teach me obedience, give me patience, and protect me from anything that does not lead me to You! Help me fix my eyes on Your goodness and let me walk away from anything that does not have You at the heart. My heart is hungry, Lord, and I pray that You shine a light into my soul so that I can be a light for others. Amen.”
If you’re reading this and find yourself struggling, I hope that you pray this prayer and feel His love wash over you. I hope that you find peace and find rest in His grace. Whatever it is that you are going through at this moment–this season in time– remember this:
His love is greater.
His love is louder!
words by Amanda LeMasters and photo by Olivia Douglas