If you know me well you know that my life isn't perfect or pretty. Since I was young I've got my taste of suffering and heartaches. Suffering is a word I know pretty well and I've questioned God's plan for my life. I've often grown weary in remaining strong and finding good in the situations I've faced.
As some of you know, when I was 6 my dad passed away. At the time I don't think I understood fully how much it would affect my life in years to come. I'll never be the same as I was before He passed away. My life has changed so much, and although I may not always understand God's plan, I know that all the suffering, pain, struggling, grieving and loss was, and is, worth it. I've grown to experience God in my life in such an amazing way that I never could have if I had 2 parents and a stable family foundation.
After my dad passed away I lost most of my confidence, my outgoing personality and assurance that someone would always be there to protect me. I felt vulnerable and insecure. Because of my quiet and shy personality I grew isolated and withdrawn. I didn't have friends, and the friends I did have, they weren't loyal or steadfast, especially when things got hard. Everywhere I turned was unreliable and insecure. It was here that I turned to God. He became my friend when nobody else stood by my side. He listened when everyone else thought I was invisible. He remained with me even through the darkest of nights. He loved me when I didn't feel worthy of being loved.
Growing up with only a single mom bringing in the income really taught me how much God can provide. There were times that I didn't know where we'd get the money from, but God always provided and it was comforting knowing that God was there with my family even when it seemed like I was all alone. I've seen Him provide in so many ways and seeing Him work and provide truly has strengthened my faith, greater than if I didn't need to rely on Him for strength or provision.
You might be asking how we can find good in suffering and loss? It's strange, but in the hardest of nights, the darkest of days, I have seen and experienced God in such a deep sense that I never could experience if I felt confident, self-sufficient and secure. It's when I need God and seek Him that I grow closer to Him than ever before. I truly think God allows us to go through suffering and loss of loved ones to help strengthen and grow our faith. It's not about hurting or punishing us, but molding us into who He created us to be. Just as pottery needs to be molded by being put through the fire, we too are tested and refined by fire to show us how strong our faith truly is.
Without losing my dad when I was little and many of the other struggles I've faced in the years that followed would have never made me to be the person I am today. I may see flaws with who I've become and wish I could have had a normal life, but God sees the person He's created me to be all along. I still struggle with confidence, insecurity and shyness, but I am reminded that God loves me even when I don't always love myself. Having experienced heartache and struggles, I hope that when someone else is experiencing pain, I can relate, hopefully encourage them, and lead them to God.
Don't look at the pain and suffering that you are facing as a punishment or discouragement, but as a reminder that God loves you. He is molding and strengthening you in your relationship with Him, you just need to trust Him through it and follow after Him. One day you'll see the finished product, a beautiful piece of pottery molded by God, who was willing to be used and filled by Him.