Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 18: Purpose in Pain

Okay, so there are probably two groups of people reading this post right now. Group #1 is saying, "What in the world possessed Carla to post that picture of the crazy woman? Is Carla losing her mind?" Group #2 is saying, "That's exactly how I feel today! How did Carla know I'm about to lose my mind (up in here, up in here)?"

Believe me, I've had my share of days when I've felt like the lady pictured above. I have both literally and figuratively almost lost my mind a few times in my life. Like I discussed yesterday, life can be challenging, trying and downright hard. I mentioned responsibilities, bills, jobs, kids, homes and all the things that daily loom over us, making it hard to pursue and even think about our God-given purpose.

But what about the times when you're dealing with extra-difficult pressures? What about when a major tragedy strikes you or a loved one?

I believe God doesn't waste pain. Through faith in Christ and His sustaining power, you can continue to live out your purpose while enduring hardship. Furthermore, He can even use your trials to infuse purpose into your life. In Christ, there is purpose in pain.

On July 6th, in Which Pill Will You Choose?, I gave a lengthy testimony of how Anthony and I began our journey in full-time ministry. Walk with me while I walk back down memory lane again, completing the story of that first year in ministry.

Needless to say, we were feeling pretty good about life. Granted I missed my hometown, my family and friends a bunch. But we loved Franklin, loved Strong Tower and the promise of our new life in ministry. And after just three days into our new life, we made an exciting discovery. I was expecting our second child. We were elated. We believed that the pregnancy was God's stamp of approval on our obedience and surrender to His will.

Imagine our despondency at thirteen weeks of pregnancy, when we watched the ultrasound of our deceased child. Imagine the pain of no longer seeing the periodic flashes of light that represented our baby's heartbeat. The heartbeat that we'd just recently seen for the first time.

Some of you don't have to imagine this pain. You've lived it.

I can't begin to describe the disillusionment that I felt during that period of my life. I can't begin to tell you how difficult it was to walk through that trial far away from all my family and closest friends. There were many sweet people that visited, brought meals and flowers during that time, and I thank God for them. But there's nothing like crying into the shoulder of a sister or a sister-friend that you've known for decades.

So far, 2001 continues to stand as the most challenging year of my life. Just three months after the miscarriage, I miscarried again. In 2002 we began to pursue another calling: adoption. And later that year we were chosen by a birth mother to adopt her daughter. However, the day we were scheduled to pick up our new "daughter" from the hospital, the birth mother changed her mind. Having given birth to a child already, I couldn't blame this young woman. I wasn't angry with her at all, but I was good and angry with God.

Years later, I can see the purpose in my pain. God birthed several things out of my losses:
  • We were led to adopt Christian from Russia, when we had never considered an international adoption before (By the way, Christian was born in January 2001, the same month I had discovered my pregnancy)
  • I became passionate about adoption, leading me to begin an orphan ministry at Strong Tower
  • Our marriage was strengthened as we learned to work through our grief together, and Anthony learned how to walk with me through emotional pain
  • After walking through disillusionment in my relationship with God, I learned to cling to Him through anything and everything

I Samuel begins with the story of another woman struggling through infertility. Hannah became so depressed over her childlessness that she wept continuously and refused to eat. In "bitterness of soul," she goes to the Lord's temple, weeping and praying for a child. She vows to God that if He blesses her with a son, she would give the boy back to him for his entire life.

In time, God "remembers" Hannah and blesses her with a son, whom she names Samuel. She dedicates Samuel to the service of the Lord in His temple, saying:

"I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So I now give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD." I Samuel 1:27-28

There was great purpose in Hannah's pain. God birthed many things out of her loss:
  • Hannah desired a son so much that she promised to commit his life to God's service
  • Samuel became a godly young man
  • He became the last judge, the first prophet and a godly leader
If Hannah had not endured years of infertility, she probably wouldn't have been led to so freely give Samuel over to live in the temple and serve God. Samuel probably wouldn't have become the great prophet and man of God that he did. He probably wouldn't have been the one chosen to anoint David, God's chosen king for the children of Israel. I'm no Bible scholar, but it seems to me, God created a lot of purpose from Hannah's pain.

And He can do the same with your pain today, yesterday and tomorrow.

I'm giving my pain over to God for Him to use for His great purpose in my life. Will you do the same?

Purposed For Him,



  1. Beautiful. I remember you talking about that year of your life at a Thursday morning Bible study one day. Your story is truly beautiful, glad you are sharing it.

  2. Well, I had a sort of ugly episode in my life (~3 yrs ago) that led me to a Spiritual revival of sorts that I wouldn't have como across without it. It was an envy and racial thing that put me in a very paranoid position... as if I was finally noticing that I am really a foreigner/immigrant. Long story short, I was invited to a Spanish-speaking church here in Conway durnig that low point, where everyone is PASSIONATE for Christ, and BOOM! My eyes were opened. Yes, I am different (than most everyone here in Conway, and than my husband... and even my 3 kids), but the same God created us... and I have that in common with other Christians! Everyone else who is "uneasy" about "different" needs my prayers, but I realize that I need a place where other Christians embrace "different", based on God's love and Jesus' example. So, the icing of the cake is that I came across you guys with your work through Mosaic Church. WOW! I thank God for you guys and can't wait for my family to get back in town so we can transfer to Mosaic Church together! XOXOXO

  3. Thanks Michelle. Appreciate you and your kind words.

  4. Zarina, you're right -- we're all one in Christ, no matter where we come from or what we look like. Can't wait for you and your family to join us at Mosaic!