Every human being on this earth has a story…a story whose ending is yet to be discovered. The beginning is often quite happy and blissful. But there are dark chapters too. Chapters that we often wish we could blank out of our book called life. Chapters that we sometimes wish we could erase from the pages of others' stories also. Recently, I have listened to some people share their journeys with me, and I have come to realize that there are two ways to look at our story...or someone else's:
One can choose to say, "You poor thing! No one should have to go through what you did!" While often meant in a compassionate way, this view lacks a proper understanding of the necessity of suffering in the human experience. If we tell others (or ourselves) that they shouldn't have to endure certain adversities, then they will expect a pain-free ride through life and be cruelly taught otherwise when tough times come their way. I once heard someone put it this way: suffering is the pathway to maturity. If that is so, which I believe it to be, than the right thing to do for someone facing dark chapters in their story is to love them through it and to help them to learn the things that they must be taught through their trial. A teachable and surrendered spirit to the lessons brought about through adversity will allow an individual to arrive at a completely different place in life than someone who fights their suffering at every turn.
This brings me to the second way to view the human story. It comes in the form of a simple question - but one that transforms the way we deal with the elements of the story we are afraid to face: the question is: where is God? You see, God is written in every line of our story. God is forever in the business of restoring what has been lost, and repairing what was broken. It's what He does. Even in the darkest chapters of our lives or the lives of others, God is written in every line. Even when we don't know or acknowledge that He is there, He is still working good behind the scenes. So often, we face difficulties that we think are too awful for God to redeem. How could something so bad be used for good? This is the mystery of grace: we may not always see it or feel that it is there, but it has never left. God has stamped His mark on our story and called it acceptable to His plan from the beginning of time. Far beyond any knowledge that we could ever have about our lives, He has had the story written since before the world began. He stands with us in the midst of the dark chapters. He loves us even at our worst and has never allowed such trials to befall us as were necessary to us coming to that point of glorious ruin at which surrender can take place. No adversity will come our way save what is for our benefit and the benefit of others. Looking for evidences of where God is and how He is working in the midst of our life-story transforms the way we endure both the good and dark parts of our journey. After all, this isn't really our story but God's being written through us. We are only a small part of a larger story that He is unfolding in the human race…and we are each in a resurrection process that He desires to bring to fruition if we are open to Him. All of the chapters of our story - even the dark ones - are redeemable. They aren't meant to be ignored, ripped out, destroyed. Because that defeats the purpose of God's plan. Your story - my story - is exactly how God intended it to be written. And it's special…because it was written by God through us…for us! Accepting that story in its entirety will allow us to live fully and to be thankful no matter the circumstances because…in the end, even in the dark chapters, everything is grace!