every bitter thing is sweet.

I mentioned in a post a few days ago that I recently read a book called “Every Bitter Thing is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things” by Sara Hagerty. It is an excellent read and really challenged me; it reminded me of “1,000 Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. Good stuff.

Following are a few of Sara’s thoughts that really resonated with me…some of them will only really make sense if you’ve read the book and understand the context through which she was speaking…so go read it! 🙂

*Grief’s tide can’t be predicted.

*Like most pain, until you have known it for yourself, you are blind to it.

*The book I’d once used to plan youth ministry talks, the book I’d once used to quote pithy sayings and to confirm opinions I’d already formed, that book at found its way into my deep. The God behind it was proving Himself to be fundamentally different than what I’d supposed for at least a decade, maybe more. But I was finding Him. In all the placed I had feared most and spent a lifetime avoiding, He was meeting me. My worst, my very worst, moments were getting rewritten without circumstances changing. I was getting acquainted with the kind of deep satisfaction that bad news can’t shake. He was showing me Himself as strong enough. He was letting me hide in Him, letting me find a safe place.

*Like any good story, time revealed it’s layers.

*The Father had forged a connection, even before our eyes stared into theirs.

*Each of us was a new part of a new whole, though God had known us as “us” since the beginning of time. We had a history together, though we’d lived apart. We’d each known brokenness and loss, yet with no concept of how those paths would merge into each other’s beauty one day.

*When my lips brushed Eden’s forehead for the first time, a holy vindication echoed throughout the heavens. My life surfaced a win, His win. It had always been there, but now I could touch it. Evidence that God not only loved me but liked me and enjoyed me something I’d spent decades subtly refuting now worked its way into my visible story. I got to sweep aside the ashes of years and try on beauty.

*And now, here I was, in the unfolding fulfillment of many (though not all) circumstances, living wildly alive. God’s signature over my barrenness, over my broken story, once unknown, was now a spiritual branding on my flesh. It said: God is good…to me.

*Marriage would be the first of many times to come when I needed to love in a way that reflected a characteristic of God that was yet unfamiliar to me.

*My mess wouldn’t forever be a curse. One day it would be my crown. One day it would tell the story that yes, He is good…to me.

*I often pictured the future from the perspective of fear, as if imagining the worst-case scenario might allow me to prepare myself. But God comes highly to prepare, and with a grace He’ll release only in that moment, not in advance.

*The fact that her experience made it impossible for her to connect with me made her healing words wounding.

*As with any calling, we dip our toes into the water of yes and hope to God that this is the biggest yes we’ll have to utter, the biggest move our hearts will have to make with such trust, only to find ourselves submerged, years later.

*Fear loses oxygen when every moment suspends itself under the purpose of bringing Him glory, of knowing His name and His nature. Sometimes, instead of leading us up and out of those very fears, big and small, He let us live them. He gives us over to them. Because it’s in this giving over to our fears that we find the perfect love that frees us from them. Forever.

*Again, it was looking at Him, long and rightly, that was performing miracles. Adoration makes walking with God more than just reacting to a series of externals. Adoration calls the circumstances, no matter how high or low, into proper submission in our hearts. Adoration roots us in a reality that no amount of pain and no amount of blessing can shake.

*Adoration steadies us. It repatterns our thinking. It centers our lives around a God-man instead of forever trying to make sense of the God-man through the lenses of our circumstances. Adoration aligns us under Him. This is the place where life is found.

*I knew that my womb wasn’t the only thing barren. My inability to respond with trust, to lean, to rest peacefully in what God could do, but hadn’t done, exposed me.

*My instant response to that moment over my bathroom sin, to many moments like it, was far from eyes-on-Him. Instead of saying, ‘Show yourself as Healer,’ I asked ‘Why haven’t you healed me?’ Instead of saying ‘Show me the Daddy side of you,’ I asked ‘Why aren’t you Daddy to me?’ Instead of saying, ‘Show me Yourself as Comforter of those in pain,’ I asked ‘Why all the pain?’ My questions revealed my resistance to the vulnerability God loves. If I’d let it, weakness would continue to produce a need in me that would draw me nearer to Him.

*The question of pain, it’s buried deep in my bones. It is my story, though I’ve barely traveled the circumference that others have,not even to the half. But God wants me to know that the nearness of Him in response to the deepest questions of my story, the kind of nearness that, when realized, heals.

*Many of us, with bodies broken, find comfort by accepting what we’ve loosely defined as God’s sovereignty. After all, hope is awkward in a life of living by sight. It’s messy. It’s vulnerable.

*But God was healing me, even while I waited on His healing.

*My awareness of my infertility was as variable as the rain. Some days it was a drizzle in the backdrop of my story, and other days it was a downpour altering my whole day.

*This was love. One long conversation, not interrupted by adversity but enhanced by it.

*But I was wounded, and the wounded set up provisions for their comfort.

*The truth is nothing about adoption is safe. We sign papers and write checks and make timelines as if any part of this process is secure, and then we’re shocked when the battle waged in the heavens over these children’s lives encompasses the natural.

*Hope had done what it always does: it preceded us.

*The odds were no longer what gave my heart stability. Endurance was producing character. Character was becoming hope. I walked into the embassy, expectant.

*I was a different woman than the one I had been before my life unraveled, because God had become to me a different God than the one I’d contrived Him to be when it was all working as it should.

*Just as soon as I remembered the sharp moments of pain, I remembered the nearness of the Father, who came right into the middle of the them. Both memories – the sting of pain and the balm of His coming to me in my pain – were vibrant, real again, but it was now as if His presence during that pain overshadowed the memory of the pain itself.

*The lowest points of pain and some of the sweetest touches of Him came back to me as I heard the words of that song that had broken my fall and cradled me. I knew my life would need hundreds, thousands of such moments across my life for my heart to grow. I couldn’t eat yesterday’s bread today. I had to continue to hunger both in the pain and in the ordinary.

*But in all seasons of searing grief, times of great redemption, times of the mundane, every single moment was pregnant with His whisper: Come, let us run together. Come find me. Here.

*To know Him is to hope for the impossible.

*Even those closest to you will challenge it, as the world around you collapses, but hope is your greatest weapon because it is His invitation into the unseen. Hope requires a true view of God. And that true view of God is not natural. It’s from Him. One day, the Unseen will be more real to you than what your eyes can perceive.

****

Blessed am I.

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