You Never Know

     Are you waiting to hear from God about a prayer? Are you hurting and wondering if the pain will ever go away? Have you been wanting to make a change but getting tired of trying? Are you waiting for someone who walked away to return? Have you been praying for someone to change their ways or have a change of heart because that is all you could do? Are you wishing that one day you are able to forgive someone or be forgiven? Are you lonely and praying that God will direct someone your way? Have you been sick and waiting on God for a miracle? Are you waiting for God to restore a broken relationship? Are you still hoping to be redeemed and vindicated? Are you waiting for that day when you wake up and suddenly realize that what used to haunt you does not control you anymore? 

     Waiting on God can be hard, but not having something to wait for is worse; not having a God to wait on is tragic. Suffering, hurt, disappointment, loss, and frustration are part and parcel of our human existence together with their counterparts. They are as normal as breathing in and out. For us to truly live our lives to the fullest, we need to accept and engage suffering as much as we enjoy and cherish the joys of life. You cannot have one and not the other. In the same way that we understand darkness and light, black and white, hot and cold, suffering helps us understand the bliss of joy and enhances our experience of it. 

     Negative emotions can be just another experience together with the positive ones if we interact with them in faith. They do not need to be a destructive element of life. In fact, they can be constructive and redemptive if we let them. If we view suffering through the lens of faith, we find purpose and meaning in it. It becomes a blessing, rather than punishment. We feel the love of God, rather than abandonment and neglect. In St. Paul’s letter to the Romans 8:28, he said, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” St. Paul had referred to a nagging nuisance that God gave him to keep him humble. Like many of us may have experienced, we have these little splinters in life that cause us a lot of pain even though they are seemingly minor. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, he said, “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Faith teaches us to trust that God loves us, He knows what we need, and His desire is our happiness. He promised to meet all our needs and He has the power to make it happen. In Isaiah 55:10-11, God said, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” God’s will is our sanctification and transformation. Whatever it is that He allows in our lives, He intends to use them to achieve His will for us. 

     Because we see purpose in our suffering, we find meaning in it. This encourages us to remain patient and gives us the strength and courage to persevere. Because we know that allowing this is a manifestation of God’s love for us, we have hope that in due time, when our suffering has served its purpose, God will promptly pull the thorn from our side. And while we are still in the middle of the restorative and redemptive process of suffering, we know that He will be there to comfort us. In Psalm 23:4, David prayed, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” God himself said in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”    

     Faith in God gives us hope. It assures us that we can trust Him completely and surrender all our hurt and pain to Him. As a result, we find rest and peace. Having faith convinces us that letting God direct our steps would be wiser than following our own plans. It gives us confidence that no matter what it is we are facing, all will be well in due time. Jesus said in Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We find hope and peace when we stop looking for them within ourselves. They are granted to us when we acknowledge that we can do nothing without God and completely depend on Him. 

     “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day (2 Peter 3:8).God’s timing is always perfect. There may be no end in sight as we wait for relief from our suffering. But to God, this is just a fraction of eternity, and He is more concerned about our growth and molding us into the person He wants us to be. In Isaiah 55:8-9, God said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Because His ways are not our ways, we are sometimes left in awe at what God decides to do or the timing of his actions. We should remember to always trust God’s intentions for us and wait patiently for His will to manifest. In the meantime, we must continue to do our best in whatever we are called to do given the circumstances we face, and constantly pray for courage, strength, and a grateful heart, as we learn from our trials and mature in our faith.     

     You never know, one day, the pain that paralyzes you may no longer hurt even if you remember the cause. You never know, all the effort and dedication you put in to correct a shortcoming or get rid of a bad habit may suddenly yield results. You never know, the person who unexpectedly walked away may suddenly show up and return home. You never know, the person you gave up on may amaze you with how he turned his life around. You never know, you may finally be able to forgive the person you never thought you could ever forgive or receive forgiveness from the person who refused to forgive you despite your repeated apologies. You never know, you might find someone who truly values you for a change. You never know, God might heal you even when science leaves no chance for a cure. You never know, God might restore a relationship that ended or replace it with someone better. You never know, God might redeem you or vindicate you in full view of your accusers and defamers and restore your dignity. You never know, you might wake up one day and realize that the memories that haunt you, addictions that enslave you, hurts that chain you, and realities that entrap you, no longer have power over you. You never know, today may be the day God decides to relieve you of your suffering and restore what you have lost. This is not wishful thinking. Everyday could be the day. Rome could not be built in one day, but God can restore you any day. You just never know.