“Sometimes what we seem to have, however, is an abundance of pain and loss. Can God mean for us to use that as well? Yes. Even our losses are his to use.”
What feels like many years ago now, I lost my best friend to leukemia. At the time I was still young in my faith, so his death rocked me so hard I almost fell out of the church. In that tumultuous time, I can tell you that I sure wasn’t thinking about how I could use the trauma I was feeling for good. I could barely think about the pain without breaking down in tears. It was hard. For two long years, I managed to drag myself to church every Sunday and participate in church activities, despite the hurt that had fractured my heart in two.
One day when I was wondering why my relationship with God felt stagnant and distant, I realized that I had put up a wall in between me and him. The wall was constructed to try and keep out the pain, to try and stop my heart from shattering ever again. In that moment I realized that I wasn’t protecting myself so much as keeping out the one thing that could give me real, true, pure joy: the Lord. From that day on I grabbed my sledgehammer, tore down the wall, and started to rebuild my faith from the ground up.
After a few more years, I felt God gently nudge me to share my experience with others. For a while I didn’t really understand why God would want me to talk about a time when I was so far from him, when I was extremely vulnerable and made a lot of mistakes. However, God soon led me to people that I could walk alongside and encourage as they went through difficult times. As I did my best to be there for them, I found that sharing my own testimony proved to be extremely valuable in giving hope and meaning to their own struggles. In the heat and pain of the moment it is near impossible to see beyond the fog of disappointment and agony, which is why Jesus calls us to lean on him to lead us through those times. And I firmly believe that God uses us as those crutches of support. Sure, reading the Bible and praying during hard times is certainly a great way to lean on Christ, but God also works through us to help others in the midst of tragedies.
In retrospect, if I were to attempt to answer the question of how we can be stewards of those times when we are in excruciating pain, I would guess that the first step is to try to maintain hope in the Lord. In doing so and coming out on the other side, we may be able to use our own stories to help others who are suffering as we once did. Eventually the pain will heal enough that you can find some sort of hope that could serve others.
Through our own personal wisdom and by sharing our journeys, we are being stewards of our lives. Instead of sitting in our misery or basking in our survival of difficult circumstances and never telling others what we learned, our boldness to share how the Lord provided for us in those times is an act of stewardship.