I went on a women's retreat to the beach in Panama City this past weekend. The theme was "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," based on Lamentations 3:22-23. It was an awesome time of relaxing (something I don't get to do much of at home), fellowship with a few of my "besties," learning, and meeting some sweet new sisters.
While I learned so much about God's faithfulness and new mercies every day, one "aha" moment I took away from the retreat keeps replaying in my mind. Someone in one of our small group sessions after a time of teaching said, "God doesn't waste the pain."
I thought a lot about that statement for the rest of the weekend after hearing it. One morning, I took a walk on the beach before breakfast and really thought about the implications that God doesn't waste the pain. That's when I found this perfect little pink shell.
The shell was whole and pretty and seemingly unscathed, unlike the rest of the shell fragments that had been pounded onto the shore by the crashing waves the night before. I thought it odd how unmarred this shell was in the midst of all of the remnants of the others.
Life is not like that. Not usually anyway. When crazy circumstances and unpredictable chaos abound in our lives like crashing waves on an ocean shore, there will more likely be pieces as the dawn ushers in, not wholeness - not unscarred and unmarred.
How does that reconcile with what I believe about a sovereign and loving God? And there it is again - that statement. God doesn't waste the pain.
I found this cute turtle figurine in the gift shop of the retreat center where we stayed. I love turtles. And I enjoy collecting them, different and unique ones I find randomly. On the bottom of the turtle, it says that it is made entirely of shell fragments. Someone actually used adhesive along with broken shells and molded from the concoction a sculpture of a turtle. Beautiful.
I think that's what it means that God doesn't waste the pain. He takes our brokenness, our hurts, our past, our suffering - all a result of those crazy circumstances and unpredictable chaos - and He sweeps them into the palm of His hand, and then gently, carefully, beautifully crafts something new from them.
He doesn't waste the pain. I think that's how Romans 8:28 can be rephrased into our own words. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. Everything. Even the fragmented bits, the chipped pieces, the slivers and shards...those things too unlovely for anyone else to give a second glance at. Only the Maker Himself can envision the limitless possibilities of those remnants in the lives of His creation.
Waste not, want not. It means that if you use a commodity or resource carefully and without extravagance, you will never be in need. In other words, wise use of one's resources will keep one from poverty.
Don't waste the pain. That's what one of my new goals is going to be. Those broken bits that result from what is happening in my life at any given moment are as much a gift from God as the beautiful, seemingly unscathed whole parts are. It's all about perspective...and allowing God to use them to create something new brings Him glory while it works to transform me more into the image of His Son. No poverty there.
I am a Christian. I am a wife. I am a mom. I am an author. In that order.