I woke up in pain again today. Almost like yesterday had never happened. And it's not cool. But you know what?
God is still awesome.
I am still blessed.
Early this morning, I decided that instead of focusing on the pain, I was going to focus on the fact that I was heading to worship with my sweet Theater Church family. I serve an amazing God, and I got to go sing my heart out praising Him. And tonight, I am SO glad I didn't let the devil win because this service spoke to me in ways I didn't expect (considering the theme), and I certainly don't think Pastor Sean or the worship team could've expected it.
Two songs really jumped out at me. The first: "Your Love Never Fails". This song is important because a) it's one of the many songs I heard for the first time the night of my baptism, but mostly b) because all I could think as I cried out to Him with my head pounding and eyes throbbing was that His love never fails. There are no corollaries. His love is always enough. His love has gotten me through the past few months, the past 20 years, it will get me through whatever is headed my way in the future. I may doubt Him in moments of weakness, but in my heart, I know full well that He has saved me from so much, I have no reason to believe He won't save me from this and EVERY reason to believe that He will. If I have Him, I have everything that I need to face the trials of this world.
The second was a Jeremy Camp song, "Revive Me." I'd never heard of it before today, but I immediately saw how much I could relate to it. I mean, the first three words are consider my affliction. As I sang that song, I felt myself begging God to revive me. But as those words poured from my mouth, I realized all over again that I wasn't necessarily asking Him to heal me and take away my pain. Would I love it if He did? Absolutely. But I know that His plans are greater than mine, and if this is part of His plan for me, I want Him to revive me to the point that I can say "God is still good in the midst of my pain" with a smile on my face and the joy and peace that pass all understanding my heart. I long to be the woman who faces trouble and says "Kai nyn. I trust You even now." And most of the time, I do, but I have doubts and fears and struggles, just like everyone else.
Then, there was Pastor Sean's sermon, and this was the part that really surprised me because, on the surface, one would not expect a message about regeneration and new birth to speak to me in my pain. He spoke of John 3:8, "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." I never understood the analogy in this verse until today. If I remember correctly from what Pastor Sean said, in old translations, wind is translated to breath. Thus, this verse is referring to how the breath of the Lord fills those who have been reborn in the Spirit. People don't know why or how it happened, they just recognize it did. It reminded me of the night I got baptized and how so many people were asking how I felt and there just weren't words for it. It reminded me of just how real God felt that night, how I felt His presence in a way I never had before. I need the feeling I had that night, one of His arms wrapped around me, to make it through the broken, sinful world that I live in with pain and heartache so common.
Tonight, I've been watching a livestream of a Nashville event called "Galentines" that I had signed up for to watch on Valentine's Day, but ended up working instead so I missed. The singer Mandisa and some of her friends put together a special event for single ladies to come together and reach out to Jesus in their singleness. I could get into the countless reasons why this event moved me so greatly tonight, but that's a post for itself, so instead, I'll just tell you what hit me the hardest. In John 11:28, Martha said to Mary, "The Teacher is here, and He is asking for you." Kelly Minter, the speaker on stage at the time who referenced that verse, looked straight at the camera and said, "He is here. And He is asking for You." I felt God speak with that, "I see you." He wants me. Right now. For a girl with a constant fear of being invisible, those three little words mean so much.
Lastly, I just got off the phone with Brennan, and he reminded me of all of this once again, another reminder that God sees me today and every day. Having someone say directly to me, "Your hope is in Him. Not this world." was just the smack in the face I needed. It doesn't matter if the doctors are telling me there are no other options, it doesn't matter if my mother asks me why I'm still a Christian when I have "so many reasons not to be", all that matters is that His Word never changes, and He is always faithful. Brennan reminded me that having fears and doubts and struggles doesn't mean I'm not a Christian, it just means I'm human, and the important thing is that I allow Him to lift me out of that dark place. I'm so thankful that God has taken a guy I met in the most random way, who baptized me, and almost eleven months later still uses that special bond to bring me closer to Him. That conversation was the perfect cap on a day filled with obvious reminders of exactly how God is laying with me in my pain. I am so thankful that I have friends who don't judge my weak moments and instead are there to push me back toward Christ. As my sweet sister-friend Caitie said, this is church!
As I sit here trying to figure out a way to wrap up this post, all I can think is that today is a miracle, too. It's a completely different kind of miracle compared to yesterday, but a miracle nonetheless. Today is a miracle because God's breath gave me strength to make it through another day. Because I had another opportunity to tell people how great He really is. Because I am alive. Because He has changed me to the point that I search for Him in the brokenness of this world. (A lot of people who know me now never knew the old me, but I'm here to tell you the fact that I even want to get closer to Him is a huge sign of His power to transform.) Today is a miracle because I have been reminded that my hope lies in Him and Him alone, and because of that, I can go to bed with a smile on my face.
Every day is a miracle when I serve a God this awesome. I don't know what He's going to do with this part of my story, but I'm up for anything, and I know that whatever it is, it's going to be grand.