It happened late one night as I scrolled through social media. Not the typical mindless-and-need-to-decompress type of scrolling, but the other, more sinister kind . . .
The scrolling that happens when my head is full of doubts, fears, and anxieties—and instead of going to bed or taking a nice hot bath, I go looking for evidence to support those internal snakes hissing lies at me.
The day’s disappointments and heartache in my difficult marriage sent me to digging, and it wasn’t long until I found the evidence I self-destructively sought. A few scrolls in, there it was: a friend’s wordy, sticky-sweet, Shakespearean-worthy tribute to “the perfect husband” and “the perfect life together.” Topped off with kissy-faced selfies.
With that, “Exhibit A” was entered into evidence, and my inner temper-tantrum throwing toddler was unleashed into the courtroom of my mind. Bitter tears poured down my face while I poured out the hurt in my heart to my Heavenly Father.
God, do you really love me? Why did she get X and I got Y? Do you even see me here? Are you trying to ruin me?
I wonder if you’ve ever asked those questions, too. I wonder if you, like me, have encountered circumstances or seasons that—try as you might—simply don’t make sense.
Like when your family doesn’t grow like you’d always dreamed. Or “happily ever after” never comes. Or an unexpected financial loss sends your plans and goals to the backburner. Or you just feel stuck in the middle of a long, dry, fruitless season.
Sometimes, if we’re brutally honest with ourselves, it can certainly feel like God is trying to ruin us—especially when our heart desperately longs for good things but those things are frustratingly withheld.
The thing is, I believe God is trying to ruin us.
But, not in the way Satan or our anxiety-ridden minds would have us think.
Our Father loves us too much to do anything other than “ruin” us for our good.
He is trying to ruin our idols.
Smash our false gods.
Wreck our reliance on self.
Destroy our focus on self.
Dissolve our need for control.
Extinguish our destructive pride.
Yes, in the upside-down world of following Jesus, the things that appear to ruin us are actually working to pave the way to the true joy and hope our hearts desire.
In Romans 5:3-5, Paul writes these soul-strengthening words:
“[W]e 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.” (ESV).
Through our fallen, human lens, it may look like God is using our pain to bring us to ruin—but we must reject this insidious lie from our enemy.
Through our tears, we must choose to hold onto the truth that God is good and cannot be anything other than good to us.
As I sat on my bed that night, a tender, kind moment descended right in the middle of the mess. It was as though Jesus took my face in His scarred Hands and whispered, child, if I gave you the perfect, glorious marriage you so desire, you would never truly seek Me. And for your very best, I need you to seek Me.
Though painful at the time, I allowed that truth to settle into my soul—for yes, if I had a perfect “Prince Charming,” I would never seek the Prince of Peace, the one true lover of my soul.
I don’t know what circumstances are pressing in hard on you right now—but I do know that, like any good and loving parent, our God is willing to withhold that which would ruin us in order to give us that which will make us whole … even though on this side of Heaven, our fallible hearts struggle to understand that equation.
Today, may you and I have the courage to trust a little deeper and hold on a little tighter to the God who faced His own ruin on a cross, because He loves us just that much.