Pain Made Perfect
“For all the blessings we recognize and all the ones we don’t, Lord, we are grateful.”
My grandma’s gentle voice melodically recited this prayer in her small, welcoming kitchen. Somehow the words weaved around the breakfast table, through my siblings squished bodies and resounded in my spirit. At various points in my life, I have thought about this prayer and what it means. As a child, it was a roof over my head, running water and electricity; all those things you hear from the “Special Speaker Third World Missionaries” at church.
As an adult, new meanings to this prayer have emerged. Recently I prayed with tears of genuine gratitude streaming down my face, “Oh Lord, thank you for four years of infertility.” As I worshiped God for his divine wisdom, I reflected on unanswered prayers in my life.
Four years of infertility brought four children into my home that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Chronic depression shaped a man of God that I never want to do life without.
A fatal earthquake brought my brother home from Haiti against all odds.
A job loss resulted in realizing life callings never even suspected.
Oh, yes, Jesus, “For all the blessings we recognize and all the ones we don’t, WE. ARE. GRATEFUL.”
And as I reflected on these moments, I felt my posture dissolve into complete surrender. I don’t surrender my will to God because He’s the boss, or because I am too “lowly” to have desires and wants. I have aches and desires and passions that burn in my blood and burden my heart. I weep to my Savior about the injustices my children and my clients face, I cry to God from the depths of my soul about personal desires and confusions. I wake in the small hours of the morning with passionate prayers and pain I cannot put into words. I get antsy. Oh man, do I get antsy waiting for God’s “perfect timing.” And as I study the Psalms and the prayers of Moses and other beautifully raw scriptures, I think it’s pretty clear all of that is the human experience God notes as “very good” clear back in Genesis.
BUT, when I look at these patterns of pain made perfect, I’m more able to end my prayers in a posture of surrender. My cousin died from brain tumors at MUCH too young an age. I have no answers. “For all the blessings we recognize and all the ones we don’t, Lord, we are grateful.” I can surrender. My dear friend’s family has rifts and pain enduring in length and intensity almost surmounting their faithful, fervent prayers. We have no answers. “For all the blessings we recognize and all the ones we don’t, Lord, we are grateful.” I can surrender. My foster children could be pulled from my home tomorrow with no warning. I have no security. “For all the blessings we recognize and all the ones we don’t, Lord, we are grateful.” I can surrender.
Today I encourage you to reflect on your life and the unanswered prayers throughout the years. See if you can find instances of pain turned perfect, and find rest intermingled with the pains you currently endure. In the end, it will all be made perfect. Lord, we are grateful.