White Christian Hypocrisy

White christian

I will give fair warning now, there will be language found in this post that some would call vulgar and distasteful. If that is something you find offensive then you might not want to read this one. 

As a white/heterosexual/female/Christian, I have often heard Christians accused of being hypocritical. It’s certainly nothing new, but each time I would do my best to ardently defend Christians everywhere by saying, “Christians aren’t hypocrites. We are just imperfect people. We make mistakes.”

As true as that may be, we aren’t perfect by any means, I am finding it harder and harder to dismiss the hypocrisy found among some.

As a Christian, if you give a hearty “Amen!” after someone reads Micah 6:8 (He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”) but don’t support justice for our black brothers and sisters then you’re a hypocrite.

As a Christian, if you are ok with protesting colonists who threw 342 containers of British tea (valuing about 1 million dollars today) into the Boston Harbor, but get upset when protesters loot a Target then you’re a hypocrite. (By the way, the CEO of Target released a very loving and UNDERSTANDING message to the community.)

As a Christian, if you are ok pledging allegiance to a flag (or nation), but feel personally offended when someone kneels during the pledge (the very right given to them because of that flag) then you are a hypocrite.

As a Christian, if you fight for your right to bear arms, but don’t weep when you see and hear of UNARMED black men and women being shot then you’re a hypocrite.

As a Christian, if you preach that God is love, but God’s love has some kind of conditions to it (like race, sexual orientation, political party, gender, denomination, etc.) then you’re a hypocrite.

As a Christian, if you celebrate that the Body of Christ is diverse (and you even send missionaries to other countries because every nation needs to be represented in the kingdom!!), but everyone around you looks like you and thinks like you then you’re a hypocrite.

As much as this applies to race, it isn’t the only area of hypocrisy.

As a Christian, if you are ok with your President using the term “pussy” on multiple occasions, but get upset when people wear pink vagina hats at the Women’s March then you’re a hypocrite. (Or if you think Christian women shouldn’t even be a part of such an event!)

By the way, if you support a President who uses vulgar language and claims to be a Christian, but get pissed off when a Christian blogger does it then you’re a hypocrite.

As a Christian, if you are ok with your President talking about kissing women without consent (or “grabbing them by the pussy” as he so lovingly described it) and say it was “before his conversion”, but are disgusted by children being abused in Catholic church (which is undeniably disgusting on every level) then you’re a hypocrite.

As a Christian, if you are ok with obeying one politicians direction because he considers himself a Christian (because he prays?!?!), but refuse to listen to another one because he isn’t then you’re a hypocrite.

As a Christian, if you pray for the persecuted church in other countries and then use the same term to describe the American church during social distancing/quarantine then you are a hypocrite.

As a Christian, if you say women and men are created equal and in the image of God, but magnify the voice of men while stifling the voice of women because they are “too emotional” then you’re a hypocrite.

As a Christian, if you say that abuse is wrong, but allow husbands to verbally abuse their wives and children and allow them to remain in Christian leadership because it isn’t PHYSICAL ABUSE and you aren’t sure it’s “that big of a deal” then you are a hypocrite.

In order to define hypocrisy, I’d like to throw it back to 1995 when DC Talk (a popular and celebrated Christian rock band) released the song “What If I Stumble?”. The song begins with a recording of Christian theologian Brennan Manning saying:

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

Or if you prefer the definition found in the dictionary it’s when someone claims to have a moral standard or belief but their actions do not line up. Seems to me like consistency is important here. And I believe one of the top reasons why so many young adults leave the church after high school, but that’s for a different post.

So, how do we address this? How do I even begin to discuss the next steps. If we allow ourselves to look in the mirror and we find hypocrisy there how to we respond? That’s the question I keep asking myself because I understand there ARE areas of hypocrisy in my life.

As I have mentioned in past blogs the only thing I know to do is look to Jesus. How did He respond/act? What did Jesus say about it?

Jesus was not silent on hypocrisy.

In Matthew 23:27-28, Jesus talks to the religious scholars and Pharisees calling them out on their bullshit. As The Passion Translation puts it in verse 28, “Outwardly you masquerade as righteous people, but inside your hearts are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

THIS is the question we’ve got to ask ourselves– is there hypocrisy in my heart? Allow Him to reveal it to you. We can trust Him to do that because there wasn’t an ounce of hypocrisy in Jesus.

Jesus was so perfect in fact that His perfection caused people to not like Him. Actually, some people hated Him and were trying to trick Him and trap Him with His words.

They were so hell bent on it in fact that they brought a woman who was caught in the act of adultery (I wonder how they knew that?!) in front of Jesus who was teaching in the temple courts (John 8). They made this woman, who I assume was naked, stand in the middle of everyone not only to shame her, but to see if Jesus would condemn her.

As good religious scholars would they brought up the law of Moses. Certainly Jesus wouldn’t disobey the law handed down to them! When He finally responds to them He looks them in the face and gives them permission to stone her if they themselves have never sinned.

I wish I could have been there– to see the look in His eyes the tone in His voice. The leaders who were once angry and demanding answers now silent. One by one walking away because they couldn’t deny their own hypocrisy when Jesus presented them with it.

Again, an example of how Jesus can bring conviction to our hearts if we are willing to listen. If we are willing to let Him confront us on stuff that we’d rather not see.

I’ll admit it, I’m pretty angry about the hypocrisy I see in others in the Church. It disgusts me and enrages me to no end, but I need to have that same response when I see it in myself, too.

Oh, Jesus. Root out every sliver of hypocrisy found in our hearts and allow us to pursue justice, to love mercy and walk with humility. Break our hearts for the things that break yours. Heal our nation and bring unity as only You can. Bring freedom to those bound by racism, by tradition, by sexism and ANYTHING that doesn’t come from You! May your kingdom of peace reign in the hearts of your people. Amen.

Jesus’ Resurrection Day Instructions

Jesus' Resurrection Day Instructions

We’ve come to Sunday. The day that ushers in the grand celebration and realization that Jesus did what He said He would do– He conquered death and the grave and gives us all the VICTORY!

If that’s all I were to write for you today it would be sufficient. Period. But as I read the resurrection account in Matthew I felt there was a message for us for the days AFTER Easter and especially in the days of quarantine and global pandemic.

These instructions come from Jesus Himself when talking to the first people to see Him in His resurrected form. I know we like to focus on His last words before returning to Heaven. They are obviously important instructions as well, but these “first words” shouldn’t be skipped or skimmed over.

Here’s the interaction:

Matthew 27: 9-10 (The Passion Translation) “Along the way, Jesus suddenly appeared in front of them (Mary Magdalene and the other Mary) and said, ‘Rejoice!’ They were so overwhelmed by seeing Him that they bowed down and grasped His feet in adoring worship. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Throw off all your fears. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee. They will find me there.”

REJOICE

I’m a word nerd. Sometimes I look up definitions for commonly used words just so I don’t miss any deeper beauty. Rejoice is defined as to feel or show great joy or delight.

In the Greek, rejoice was used as a common greeting but it’s also a blessing. Imagine if the very first words out of your mouth when interacting with someone was a blessing to say, “My desire is that our conversation brings you JOY!”

Or in Holly terms, that our hope is that we leave people better than we found them. I could go on in great length in the amount of conversations that have left me hurt, discouraged and angry. Instead, I’d like to turn the question to myself. How many people I haven’t left better?

If you read the Gospels you’ll notice the vast majority of people who encountered Jesus left feeling lighter– many of them having their lives radically transformed. Just like Mary Magdalene, in fact.

There were some people who left Jesus saddened. Why? He told them something they didn’t want to hear.

I’ve had both experiences. I know you may be shocked to hear that sometimes I do dumb stuff and Jesus needs to lovingly correct me. It happens. But oh man, those joyous moments where I’m lost in His delight and affection have revived me and comforted me time and time again.

THROW OFF ALL YOUR FEARS

Unfortunately, fear isn’t quarantined to this Cornavirus crisis. For some, it may rise up when they see a certain name pop up on the caller ID, see a negative balance in their checking account or get the news of a diagnosis.

Fear has come at me in all those ways and more. I’m sure you’ve got your own to share, too. It sounds like Jesus is showing our options when faced with fear. We can hold on to it and allow it to consume us OR (as He suggests) throw those suckers off.

What does that mean? How can I practically apply that to my life? As soon as the fear and anxiety comes your way to not entertain them. Often I find myself conversing with my fear giving it more time and space than it’s due.

I’ve worked with kids for a long time and when a child is struggling with fear (like homesickness at camp) you redirect them. You ask them questions about their pets. You tell them about fun things you’ll be doing with them that day. You tell them a joke.

When fearful thoughts come our way (I KNOW this is easier said than done)– redirect them. Respond to them with faith and God’s word. In doing so, you’re redirecting yourself to the heart and voice of God and giving attention to what He says.

GO & TELL

When you’ve encountered Jesus in a supernatural and powerful way He wants us to tell others about it because He knows others need to hear it. They need to know that God does what He promises and that you’ve seen it with your own eyes! It’s not just something in an old book, but it’s something you’ve experienced.

What are some things God has promised you that you’ve seen come to pass? Tell someone! They need to know that God is still working and moving and speaking TODAY.

If we skip to Mark 16:11 we find out that Mary does exactly what she’s told. Let’s check it out:

Mark 16:11 (TPT) “Excitedly, Mary told them, ‘He’s alive and I’ve seen Him!’ But even after hearing this, they didn’t believe her.”

Even when God Himself gives you a message to share there will be people who doubt it. 

Wow.

How many times have I shared something in a sermon or a blog post and wondered if I said the right thing because of how people responded? The Truth is Jesus only requires me to do (and say) what He says. I don’t get to determine how people will interpret it or respond to it.

In fact, as one friend encouraged me today, you will be opposed in the areas you have been effective.

What’s that mean for me? Imma keep writing.

What’s that mean for you? Keep doing what God has called YOU to do.

In conclusion, Happy Easter. 🙂 Though your Easter may look wildly different this year, I pray it’s one where you encounter Jesus in a powerful way!

 

Death by Religion

thecommonqueen.com

I don’t usually do this and I don’t want to make a habit of it, but I want to make a disclaimer before I get into the heart of this post. I write what I feel like God has placed on my heart– what He’s speaking to me about. It’s not always comfortable stuff and it may be uncomfortable to hear, but I refuse to filter my words in fear of offending someone. Believe me, this stuff is just as much for me as it is for other people.

God asks me to write. I didn’t choose this life or calling, but I have determined in my heart to be as faithful and obedient as possible. I won’t always get it right, but there is nothing that I share that I haven’t carefully considered.

I’ve seen religion kill a lot of things. Creativity. Relationships. Purpose. Heart/Passion. I’ve seen it bind people with made up rules and expectations for the sake of appearances. Religion has locked people in boxes of tradition and thrown away the keys. Religion can go to hell.

Religiosity is what sent Jesus to the cross. Rather the fact that Jesus refused to obey the religious expectations (legalism) put in place by tradition. He did things like:

Heal on the Sabbath (HOW DARE HE?! Doesn’t He know there’s 6 other days in the week for that. Our Sabbath rules are much more important than hurting PEOPLE.)

Hang out with drunkards and outcasts of society (Come on, Jesus. You know better to hang out with people like that. They’ll get their sinner cooties on you.)

He gained a following (The religious did not like this because they were jealous. Jesus was becoming more popular than them.)

The final nail in the coffin (or cross as the case may be) for Jesus was the fact that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. Jesus simple admission of identity secured His death sentence. What’s interesting to me about this point is that these religious leaders knew the prophesies and Word of God (they only had Old Testament at this time) more than anyone else. Like, that’s what got them to the positions they were in– even having huge portions of it memorized. Yet, they missed it. They knew the Word and yet missed the Word when it was standing right in front of them.

That’s was religion does though…it can blind you.

Good Friday shows this so eloquently in Scripture. I will be referencing verses from Mark 26:47-Mark 47:44 (TPT) and reiterating a few points I stated earlier.

  • Mark 26:47 It was the ruling priests and Jewish leaders who ordered Jesus arrested.
  • Mark 26:57 It was the chief priest, religious scholars and Jewish council who held the meeting to interrogate Jesus.
  • Mark 26:59 These same religious leaders “were doing their best to find false charges that they could bring against Jesus because they were looking for a reason to put him to death.”
  • Mark 27:1 The religious leaders resolved to take action against Jesus.
  • Mark 27:12 The religious leaders slandered and accused Jesus.
  • Mark 27:18 Pilate recognized the Jewish leaders were handing Jesus over because of jealousy. (As the Passion Translation puts it their bitter jealousy)
  • Mark 27:20 The religious people were inciting the crowd– literally getting them riled up and on their side.

So, what’s the answer? What am I getting at?

If I were to sum it up, it would be this: Jesus showed us that we were not meant to be led by religion but by the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit). Jesus did what His Father told Him to do. If it was healing someone on the Sabbath, He did it. If it was hanging out with people that didn’t fit the status quo, He did it. If was saying something that made people uncomfortable (like eat my flesh and drink my blood kinda stuff), He did it.

What I love so much about Jesus and find so absolutely freeing is that He didn’t allow people (or fear of people) to dictate His actions. He simply wanted to bring His Heavenly Father pleasure.

Even if that meant going to the cross. And He did so willingly and loving for the wildly religious and the blatant sinner both categories of which I have found myself.

 

 

Pressing Through To Jesus

Pressing Through To Jesus

Warning: this may be TMI (too much information) for some people. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I’ve had “the issue of blood” (we all get what that means, right?) basically every day for the last 7 months. Just in case you are worrying, I’m aware of why it’s happening, but at this point it’s just something I have to deal with on a daily basis. It’s annoying, frustrating, sometimes scary and sometimes painful. This week, I was especially frustrated and let out a disgruntled sigh.

“Jesus, why is this happening to me?”

I hadn’t expected a response, but in the middle of my frustration God encouraged me. I was instantly reminded of the story of the woman with the issue of blood found in Mark 5:25-34, which I’ve read probably a hundred times. This morning though, it took on a deeper meaning– not just because I could relate to the woman on a very small scale.

The woman in Mark 5 lived with her sickness for 12 long years. She tried everything she could possibly try in order to get relief. I’m sure she even tried essential oils because a friend on Facebook told her to give it a try. I joke, but this woman was desperate. She visited doctors and tried a variety of procedures and literally spent all the money she had in order to get better. In the end, she only got worse.

Until Jesus.

A desperate woman who had tried everything else pressed through and found her way to Jesus. She knew He was her only hope. In reaching Him, in that very moment, she was healed. Instantly, I might add.

For me, singleness is my “issue”. At times, it can be frustrating, annoying, scary and painful as I try and walk through this journey with faith. I’ve tried everything and still find myself waiting for this season to be over. From dating apps to being set up by friends and waiting for that guy in small group to ask me out to coffee. There are moments I get to the end of myself and pray prayers similar to the one I shared at the beginning of this article.

“Jesus, why is this happening to me?”

His answer, “Press through these circumstances and get to me. I want you to come to me because that is where you will find wholeness.”

It is there, in the presence of Jesus, that we find healing. Healing from a break-up or healing from the heartache of not having been on a date in years. Maybe your healing isn’t connected to your relationship status– maybe it has to do with an attitude you have towards someone or that every day you wake up feeling anxious and overwhelmed.

All I know is whatever we need, can be found in the presence of Jesus. In that area where you need healing, press through to Jesus. He wants us to come to Him. He loves it when we do because it’s admitting our need for Him. And I don’t know if you need the reminder, but you do NEED Him.

My encouragement to you: Press through. Don’t let people, diagnoses, hurdles or difficulty get in your way. Get into Jesus’ presence and it’s there I know He’ll do a miracle for you!

 

 

Jesus Is Our Daily Bread

If you’ve grown up in the church you’ve been reciting the Lord’s Prayer ever since you memorized it in early morning Sunday School where you enjoyed Bible stories on flannel-graph boards. The Lord’s Prayer was given to us by Jesus as an example of how we should pray. We tend to take the red letters statements pretty seriously in the Bible. In a way it’s become a seemingly common prayer that can be heard in movies, found on wall hangings and even used as inspiration for works of art.

The simplicity of the Lord’s Prayer doesn’t take away from the depth or power behind it. Like I said, Jesus prayed it so it’s not some wimpy prayer meant to be recited haphazardly without a thought. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what I’ve done more times than not and have spent most of my life skimming over it like it was NBD.

A few Sundays ago, I had the opportunity to lead communion at my church, which means I spent days preparing. And by preparing, I mean seizing every opportunity to pray (in the car, in the shower, in bed, etc.) because nobody wants to be the person to mess up communion. In my prayers, I’d ask God to give me some kind of encouraging word for His people. Something that would be fresh and not the usual Sunday morning pep rally speech.

And for days, Jesus said nothing.

It was a bit nerve wracking, to say the least, and I worried that maybe I’d get up there Sunday and just do the normal communion spiel. I’d heard it about a thousand times up to this point so I could wing it if I needed to but really hoped that wouldn’t be the case.

When I walked into church that Sunday, I was resigned that maybe God wasn’t going to speak to me about communion. As worship began, it became very clear that God was speaking. It wasn’t in my timing, which He has a tendency of doing. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. So there, in this personal moment with me and Jesus He said, “I am your daily bread.”

There’s so much to that statement.

Jesus. That beautiful name. The name above every name. The name that will bring every person to their knees in worship. There’s power in His name. There’s no other name like it and no other name that holds such authority.

Is. This one small word reminds us that Jesus is….now….currently…presently….at this very moment our daily bread. That is comforting in the midst of your struggle or need. Jesus isn’t some past help. He is here when I need Him.

Our. As much as Jesus is here for me He’s here for you, too. He’s mine, He’s yours, He’s ours. Christianity was never meant to be lived singularly. We were made for community and it’s only fitting that communion would be done in the midst of that community. It is available for us all as a Body of believers. Jesus’ bread or rather His body, which the bread represents, was broken and used to make us whole.

Daily. Not our bread for just Sundays. Or holidays. Or when we feel like it. He’s meant to be partaken of each and every day. The fact is we need Him daily, but we so foolishly think we can pass on that daily bread. “I got this,” we try and convince ourselves. In my independence, and mostly my stupidity, I thought that it showed strength to try and do things on my own. The fact remains that I need Him. Not just daily, but moment by moment. In the highs of life and certainly in the lows.He wants us coming to Him to supply our needs for that day. In doing so, we will see and know His faithfulness because He’ll always provide.

Bread. This bread is the bread of life. No Wonder Bread here, but bread that sustains us and gives us all we need as we face our day. We can try and satisfy our needs with other things (or people, or hobbies or jobs or money), but nothing and no one can satisfy like Him. Everything else is just counterfeit.

One of the things I love about communion at my church is the way the children respond to it. There’s a lady at my church who makes fresh unleavened bread each time and the kids love it. When they come forward with their parents they grab not just one piece, but two or three. They smile as they do it and I can’t help but smile back. If only we could keep that kind of child’s heart with things– such joy and hopeful expectation.

So, today and every day may you be reminded that Jesus is your daily supply of all you need. 

My Story of Redemption

There are memories that get etched onto our brain or our hearts and they stay there forever. Sometimes the memories are beautiful and sometimes the memories are ugly, but regardless they remain and are a part of your story.

Then there are times when an ugly memory is made beautiful. God takes a past hurt, or difficult circumstance, and uses it to make something much more beautiful than you could ever imagine. It’s in these such moments where I see the redemptive work of God in my life up close. I don’t think I would have believed it unless I saw it myself. I’m stubborn that way.

Let me start at the beginning: the ugly memory.

Growing up, until the age of 13, I lived in a home that didn’t feel safe. My step-dad was a raging alcoholic with a temper. My mother had her own addictions to deal with and anger problems stemming from a variety of sources including being married to an abusive alcoholic. Home was a battle ground as much as I’d do my best to tippy toe around the landmines, but it was only a matter of time until one was set off. I wasn’t sure when the explosion would happen…only that it would happen.

One of my earliest memories is of me running barefoot to my next door neighbors house late at night asking them to call the police. There were many, many nights like this.

At a very young age, my grandma started taking me to Sunday school and I learned how to pray. I was confident God heard my prayers, so each night I’d pray and ask Him to keep me safe. Many nights, I’d ask Him for a new family, which He ended up giving me. A family that would keep me safe and love me unconditionally. A family that would make me their own.

Even with my new family my nightly routine didn’t change much. I’d still talk to God while I was in bed and ask Him things like, “God, how can you make anything good out of my life?” For a long time, I struggled with that question (and still do). It seemed like maybe I just had to deal with the fact that my childhood was hard but that was the past and it would remain this ugly part of my story.

Everything I knew about God told me that wasn’t how He operated though. He is a God who redeems. He takes old things and makes them new. He takes broken people and makes them whole. He takes the lonely and gives them a family.

I wanted God to bring redemption to my story. 

This past week I served at a children’s camp where 111 kids got to experience the love of Jesus in a powerful way. If that wasn’t good enough, and it would have been, it was there where I saw God’s redemption first hand.

What I didn’t tell you is that at the age of 8, I started attending this very same camp as a camper. It was at this camp that I experienced Jesus and learned about Him and honestly just fell in love with Him. I remember responding to altar calls and having my counselor pray for me. I remember feeling the love of God around me like a warm blanket. I remember hearing His voice and knowing that He was going to take care of me….even if it meant living in a place that felt like hell.

Now 23 years later, I’m standing at the very same altar. There’s a line of children in front of me who are asking for prayer. As each one comes forward I ask them what they’d like prayer for and each one confesses a need and then we pray. It’s a powerful time that’s hard to put into words, because you see the depth of their faith and it’s overwhelming and inspiring.

As I’m praying, one little girls comes up to me for prayer and when I ask her what she needs prayer for she looks at me intently and says, “I’m afraid when I’m home. My parents fight.” My heart freezes for a moment and it’s as if I’m looking into little 8-year old Holly’s eyes. I see the fear and feel it deep down in my soul. I remember it vividly.

So, I do all that I know how to do and I pray. I pray desperately as the little girl wraps her fingers around my hands tightly. My heart aches as I pray and the tears trickle down my cheeks. There is sadness, but there is also hope.

If God could bring me peace in the midst of my chaos, God can certainly do the same for this little girl.

It was there in that moment where I heard God whisper, “I brought her to you because I knew you’d understand. You would have the words she needed to hear.” My story that had looked so ugly now looks more beautiful because God was able to use it to bring hope, and Light and peace to someone else.

That is my story of redemption. 

If you’re reading this, and you feel led, please pray for this little girl. I believe one day, she’ll be the one standing at the front of an altar praying for children who are afraid and in that moment she’ll see God redeeming her story as well.

May you be reminded that God is in the redemption business– for her, for me and for you.

Why We Suffer

Why We Suffer

We live in a world that pursues pleasure. We are looking to “get rich quick”, “lose 10 pounds by Friday” and “live our best lives now”. We want to do what feels good and makes us happy and we want to do it NOW. Anything that hurts or is difficult is avoided at all costs. If there is time or commitment or cost involved we shy away thinking there has to be an easier way. This is nothing new. It’s been happening since the very beginning.

I think that’s been part of my struggle in the harder seasons. Don’t I deserve to be happy? Why can’t things be easy for once? I question and I cry and I wonder where I’ve gone wrong or why God is punishing me.

Woe is me!

I’m getting dramatic, but that’s how I feel in the midst of it all. It hurts. It’s uncomfortable. And I don’t like it. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever *like* it. In this difficulty though I believe I’ve found some clarity on why we suffer. It isn’t because God hates us and wants us to hurt. It isn’t because we are screwing up (although that can be the case). It’s because He loves us.

What?!?! I know what you’re thinking. That’s crazy talk. I must have lost my mind. No, I’m not doing drugs and I haven’t been drinking (I know you asked yourself that).

God knows that suffering has the opportunity to produce something good in our lives and because He loves us and wants the best for us He let’s us walk through it. What good could it possibly produce? I’m glad you asked!

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. (Romans 5:3-5)

It produces endurance and character and HOPE. And I need hope.

In the midst of the pain it’s hard to remember that something good can come from all of this. Recently, a friend shared with me this expert from the Streams in the Desert devotional and it was a powerful reminder to me that this process is necessary and the results are beautiful.

“Several years ago there was found in an African mine the most magnificent diamond in the world’s history. It was presented to the King of England to blaze in his crown of state. The King sent it to Amsterdam to be cut. It was put into the hands of an expert lapidary. And what do you suppose he did with it?

He took the gem of priceless value, and cut a notch in it. Then he struck it a hard blow with his instrument, and lo! the superb jewel lay in his hand cleft in twain. What recklessness! What wastefulness! What criminal carelessness!

Not so. For days and weeks that blow had been studied and planned. Drawings and models had been made of the gem. Its quality, its defects, its lines of cleavage had all been studied with minutest care. The man to whom it was committed was one of the most skillful lapidaries in the world.

Do you say that blow was a mistake? Nay. It was the climax of the lapidary’s skill. When he struck that blow, he did the one thing which would bring that gem to its most perfect shapeliness, radiance, and jewelled splendor. That blow which seemed to ruin the superb precious stone was, in fact, its perfect redemption. For, from those two halves were wrought the two magnificent gems which the skilled eye of the lapidary saw hidden in the rough, uncut stone as it came from the mine.

So, sometimes, God lets a stinging blow fall upon your life. The blood spurts. The nerves wince. The soul cries out in agony. The blow seems to you an apalling mistake. But it is not, for you are the most priceless jewel in the world to God. And He is the most skilled lapidary in the universe.

Some day you are to blaze in the diadem of the King. As you lie in His hand now He knows just how to deal with you. Not a blow will be permitted to fall upon your shrinking soul but that the love of God permits it, and works out from its depths, blessing and spiritual enrichment unseen, and unthought of by you.” (Streams in the Desert, J.H. McC.)

I believe and trust that God is taking all of these moments– the moments filled with tears and questioning and pain– and using it to do a deep work inside of me. The answer to why we suffer isn’t easy. It’s not easy to hear that suffering is for our benefit, but we can be confident that it will produce an unfathomable strength and beauty in us.

As always, if you are in need of encouragement or prayer please let me know by leaving a comment below. It would be my honor to do that for you! You aren’t alone.