God is faithful even when life hurts
Last April we moved into our new house with a wood-burning fireplace in the living room. By the time we were settled enough to use it, it was too warm to think of building a fire. However, over these last few weeks that has changed. This past weekend we had incredibly frigid weather and my husband built a fire for us three days in a row. We loved the heat and warmth and coziness of it.
Today I was walking through the living room and noticed that the fireplace is no longer clean. Until recently, the brick inside the fireplace looked pretty much the same as the brick around the fireplace. It wasn’t marred. It was clean. Now, though, it has black soot in spots and has ashes in the bottom. It’s lost its pristine state. I didn’t notice those blemishes so much when it was burning bright with fire and warmth. I was too busy enjoying it.
Now I see them. I could say the fireplace is no longer as beautiful as it once was. But the fireplace got those marks from fulfilling its purpose, and is there anything more beautiful than that? After all, we didn’t plan for a wood-burning fireplace for it to just be an unused showpiece. We looked forward to the extra warmth it would bring our family on cold winter days and evenings. It couldn’t provide any of those things without getting dirty and scarred.
We are so much the same way! In a few months, I’m hitting a milestone birthday and turning 40. I haven’t lived through 40 years of life without scars and blemishes. Some of them you can see like the scar on my knee from a cut I had as a child. I’ve got freckles on my skin from being out in the sun. My abdomen has scars from numerous surgeries. I’ve also gotten unseen scars through the years. I hesitate to open myself up to new people, because I have scars reminding me of the pain the happens when trust is betrayed. I’ve got the scars left from losing loved ones to death, even when I know they are in a better place. And I have scars of fear for how my health is going to be each and every day.
I’m not pristine by any stretch of the imagination. But I don’t want to be scarred and blemished just for the sake of being scarred and blemished. Just like I didn’t throw dirt into my fireplace to make it dirty for no reason, so I don’t want to do that in life. I want my scars and blemishes to be used for my God-given purpose in life. I want to use them to honor Him. Those scars from my surgeries are times I can praise God that He brought me through safely and helped me recover each and every time in spite of the challenges that came my way as a result. They are reminders of His faithfulness and because I have them, I can better minister to those facing surgery or health issues. I can pray for them in more personal ways.
And those emotional scars of being betrayed by someone I thought was a friend serve to remind me that I have a Friend who will never betray me. Those scars of losing loved ones remind me how very precious life is. I still struggle with grief because my most recent loss was only three months ago. These last few years have been a season of loss for my family and those scars ache. But I remember lives lived fully. I remember God’s faithfulness, strength and peace even when my heart has been broken into pieces. Those scars allow me to minister to those dealing with loss more empathetically.
I want to live my life scarred and blemished but still praising God. He didn’t create me to sit on a shelf and not get messy. He could have made life without pain, but then how would we ever really know we needed Him? We appreciate the light so much more once we have been in the darkness. I want to be used up. Am I excited and wanting more hurt and hard times? Not especially. However, I know they will come. Life works that way. It is filled with highs and lows. But my scars remind me that no matter the high or the low, God is good and He is ever faithful. He holds me close and has scars of His own to prove how much He loves me.
I want to be burned up like my fireplace. I want to serve my purpose. I don’t want to be so afraid of getting dirty and scarred that I stop trying. I don’t want to let emotional scars keep me from making new friends. I don’t want to let physical scars keep me from trying new activities. I want to remember the lessons I’ve learned, share them as much as I can and know that through it all — every bump, bruise and cut — God is always faithful. He sees the beauty in my brokenness and in my scars.