His Presence Through Pain

Dear Melody,

I don’t mind it at all that you “dumped on me.” I know what it is like to have a “bad day” while facing such “waves of pain” as you shared in your letter. You probably feel as though you’re drowning in an ocean of despair with no rescue in sight. Believe me, I have been there many times in the past. I wish I would’ve had someone to talk to when my waves hit.
    I can understand your being baffled by all your troubles, wondering “What is the point of it all?” At first glance, the option to just throw up your hands and walk away seems very appealing when you consider all the misery you’re likely to suffer by staying with your husband. But, let me ask you something: what has kept you from giving up after fifteen years of grief in this marriage? What has been your motivation to hold on? I think you will agree with me that it’s more than a wife’s natural commitment to marriage; there must be something deeper.
    It goes without saying that the Lord leads different wives to respond to their husband’s sin in different ways. He often releases wives from their marriage vows who are suffering the pain of infidelity.
    In your case, it seems that He has asked you to remain in the marriage. You are one of those rare people who has been able to grasp the good that God can accomplish inside you through an ordeal such as this. Perhaps you’ve not given up because deep in your heart you know that God is doing something very wonderful inside of you. So despite how much it hurts, you don’t want to move from under the Potter’s hands. I remember in one of our conversations you said to me, “As much as this hurts, I know God is purging me of stuff that He could not have gotten at in any other way.”  How precious those words must have been to the Lover of your soul!
    The most intimate and wonderful experiences that I have ever had with the Lord happened when I was in the throes of total anguish and absolute helplessness. What a bitter-sweet existence it was during those times. Although I longed for the suffering to end, I realized when it was over that the strong sense of the Lord’s nearness was diminishing. It is the joy of such closeness that drives us to seek God through pain; there is nothing quite like it. The amazing fruit that comes from our lives through the suffering is well worth the pain. Most women just want it to go away! I understand that too.
    We have all heard nice sermons about God’s love and faithfulness, but if it isn’t worked into our hearts it just becomes more head knowledge. It is the very kind of suffering you are currently experiencing that allows the Holy Spirit to do a powerful work within a believer. God is imparting to you a knowledge of Himself which simply cannot be learned through sermons or books. He is doing a deep and precise work in your soul, carefully molding you into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. One day you will appreciate what God has done in your inward life—even more than you would ever appreciate having a “good marriage.” The apostle Paul, who endured so much for Christ’s sake, testified: “For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” (II Corinthians 1:5) We sense the presence of God in such a powerful way when He allows us to experience pain because our sights are fixed upon the One who is able to comfort us in all our distresses.
    Another major blessing in all you’re going through is the way the Lord will be able to use you one day to help others who are experiencing the same thing. There is something about suffering that creates a beautiful attraction to other people in need. It will amaze you how other hurting wives will seem to come from nowhere to seek your advice. Paul went on to write that our heavenly Father “comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (II Corinthians 1:4)
    This reminds me of the true story of Corrie and Betsy Ten Boom, two sisters who endured unspeakable suffering in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. As Betsy was dying, she turned to Corrie and said, “We must tell them, Corrie—anyone who will listen. They will believe us because we have been there.”
    So, Melody, be encouraged and know that God is developing a powerful testimony in you. It is His sustaining power that is keeping you through the deepest waters. And you will discover that His love goes beyond any fleeting happiness resulting from favorable outward circumstances.
    I pray that God will grant you the strength to hold onto that which now seems most painful but in the end will turn out to be that which best serves your soul.I don’t mind it at all that you “dumped on me.” I know what it is like to have a “bad day” while facing such “waves of pain” as you shared in your letter. You probably feel as though you’re drowning in an ocean of despair with no rescue in sight. Believe me, I have been there many times in the past. I wish I would’ve had someone to talk to when my waves hit.
    I can understand your being baffled by all your troubles, wondering “What is the point of it all?” At first glance, the option to just throw up your hands and walk away seems very appealing when you consider all the misery you’re likely to suffer by staying with your husband. But, let me ask you something: what has kept you from giving up after fifteen years of grief in this marriage? What has been your motivation to hold on? I think you will agree with me that it’s more than a wife’s natural commitment to marriage; there must be something deeper.
    It goes without saying that the Lord leads different wives to respond to their husband’s sin in different ways. He often releases wives from their marriage vows who are suffering the pain of infidelity.
    In your case, it seems that He has asked you to remain in the marriage. You are one of those rare people who has been able to grasp the good that God can accomplish inside you through an ordeal such as this. Perhaps you’ve not given up because deep in your heart you know that God is doing something very wonderful inside of you. So despite how much it hurts, you don’t want to move from under the Potter’s hands. I remember in one of our conversations you said to me, “As much as this hurts, I know God is purging me of stuff that He could not have gotten at in any other way.”  How precious those words must have been to the Lover of your soul!
    The most intimate and wonderful experiences that I have ever had with the Lord happened when I was in the throes of total anguish and absolute helplessness. What a bitter-sweet existence it was during those times. Although I longed for the suffering to end, I realized when it was over that the strong sense of the Lord’s nearness was diminishing. It is the joy of such closeness that drives us to seek God through pain; there is nothing quite like it. The amazing fruit that comes from our lives through the suffering is well worth the pain. Most women just want it to go away! I understand that too.
    We have all heard nice sermons about God’s love and faithfulness, but if it isn’t worked into our hearts it just becomes more head knowledge. It is the very kind of suffering you are currently experiencing that allows the Holy Spirit to do a powerful work within a believer. God is imparting to you a knowledge of Himself which simply cannot be learned through sermons or books. He is doing a deep and precise work in your soul, carefully molding you into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. One day you will appreciate what God has done in your inward life—even more than you would ever appreciate having a “good marriage.” The apostle Paul, who endured so much for Christ’s sake, testified: “For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” (II Corinthians 1:5) We sense the presence of God in such a powerful way when He allows us to experience pain because our sights are fixed upon the One who is able to comfort us in all our distresses.
    Another major blessing in all you’re going through is the way the Lord will be able to use you one day to help others who are experiencing the same thing. There is something about suffering that creates a beautiful attraction to other people in need. It will amaze you how other hurting wives will seem to come from nowhere to seek your advice. Paul went on to write that our heavenly Father “comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (II Corinthians 1:4)
    This reminds me of the true story of Corrie and Betsy Ten Boom, two sisters who endured unspeakable suffering in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. As Betsy was dying, she turned to Corrie and said, “We must tell them, Corrie—anyone who will listen. They will believe us because we have been there.”
    So, Melody, be encouraged and know that God is developing a powerful testimony in you. It is His sustaining power that is keeping you through the deepest waters. And you will discover that His love goes beyond any fleeting happiness resulting from favorable outward circumstances.
    I pray that God will grant you the strength to hold onto that which now seems most painful but in the end will turn out to be that which best serves your soul.

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