By Cathy Bryant, author of The Way of Grace
While listening to the March 12, 2012 Christian Fiction podcast with author Terri Blackstock, I related so much to her comment about God using our crises, not only to grow us, but so we can in turn pass on what we’ve learned to others through our books. I’ve found that to be true in reading Christian fiction, God’s Word, and in the stories I’ve written.
The first time I read Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love, I sobbed. I remember thinking how Michael Hosea’s love for Angel was exactly like God’s love for sinful mankind. Throughout the ages humans have continually committed spiritual adultery, but God in His grace and faithfulness still provided a way for our reconciliation with Him through Christ.
During the podcast, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel to the life of Joseph, who spent thirteen years of his life in Pharoah’s prison system. As is usually the case when we find ourselves in the midst of the storm, I’m sure Joseph questioned why. The scriptures tell us several times that God was with Joseph, and it was during those dark years of his young life that Joseph learned to depend on the LORD.
In retrospect, it’s always helped me to recognize God has a purpose for my pain and suffering, and we see that in Joseph’s life as well. He (God) called down famine on the land and destroyed all their supplies of food; and He sent a man before them—Joseph, sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the LORD proved him true. The king sent and released him, the ruler of peoples set him free. He made him master of his household, ruler over all he possessed, to instruct his princes as he pleased and teach his elders wisdom. (Psalm 105:16-22, NIV)
God used those years in shackles as a holy training ground to prepare Joseph for the monumental task that lay before him. When once again face-to-face with the brothers who sold him into slavery, Joseph was able to say: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. (Exodus 50:20, NASB)
As a word of personal testimony along these same lines of God using our hurts to bring about His purpose, I’ve struggled my entire life with perfectionist tendencies. My father was an alcoholic, and I coped by becoming the typical over-achieving “good girl.” Though I was saved, deep inside I had a difficult time seeing myself as a sinner. As you can well imagine, a fall from perfection is one of the most catastrophic things that could happen to a perfectionist, but in God’s economy, that fall from perfection brought me to a place of recognizing my sinfulness and need for a Savior.
In conclusion, it’s easy to question God during difficult times, but He is so much bigger and wiser than we can comprehend, and He has a reason for every hurt He allows into our lives. Even the most difficult situations are immersed in His grace and useful for our sanctification. Only in hindsight can we see how God wasted not one drop of our suffering to bring about His perfect plan and our ultimate good. Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Recovering perfectionist Cathy Bryant is the author of the Miller’s Creek Novels—Texas Roads, A Path Less Traveled, and The Way of Grace. Her desire is to write heart-stirring stories about God’s life-changing grace. Though Texas-born, she currently resides in the beautiful Ozark mountains of northwest Arkansas with her husband of thirty years near the world’s cutest grandson. You can learn more about her and her books at http://www.CatBryant.com.
The Way of Grace by Cathy Bryant
(Book 3 in the Miller’s Creek novels)
In pursuit of justice, in need of grace . . .
A justice-seeking perfectionist pursues her dream of a perfect life in her hometown of Miller’s Creek, Texas. Sidetracked by the desire to become a prosecuting attorney, Gracie Soldano launches into uncharted waters, making herself over to please her boss and mentor. Then a disheveled free spirit turns her perfectly ordered world upside down, challenging the concept of personal goodness. A fall from perfection leaves Grace teetering between vengeance and grace, caught in a deadly crossfire that leaves her dreams in a heap of ashes. Can she joyfully accept the life God has given her–far from perfect–but one completely immersed in His grace?