Tears Not Wasted

portraitI think we’ve all had times where all we can pray is, “Lord, why?” Why me? Why now? Why this? Unfortunately, I don’t believe God always gives us answers this side of heaven, but every once in a while, we catch a glimpse of God’s glorious, loving plan. And when that happens, all we can say is, “Amen!” Today my sweet friend Jodie Bailey, author of Freefall, shares such a moment and the heartfelt praise that ensued. As you read her account, pause to praise God afresh, knowing He truly does work all things to good, that He never wastes a tear or heartache, and that His plans are always, always loving and good.

Because I’d Been There by Jodie Bailey

I don’t know about you, but it seems like, at least around here, Satan is mad about something.  He’s kicking and screaming right now, and it seems like there are a lot of people taking hits.  I’ve seen division, hurt feelings, illness, crazy left-field things happening to families, churches, schools…  Maybe his time is getting short and he knows it.  I don’t know.  I just know it seems to be amping up.  Anybody else seeing it?

And I just realized that’s a tie-in to what happens to Joseph in Genesis 40.  Honestly, I didn’t see it until just now.  But Joseph knew a thing or two about situations getting worse, about hope appearing and disappearing.  Favored son to slave.  Favored slave to prisoner.  Favored prisoner to, perhaps worst of all, forgotten.  It’s one thing to have little hope.  It’s another to have hope brush your fingertips then evaporate.   In Proverbs 13, it says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”  I wonder how sick Joseph’s heart was after this?

Genesis 40:23 (GW)–Nevertheless, the chief cupbearer didn’t remember Joseph. He forgot all about him.

Some time after Joseph is falsely accused and imprisoned, Pharaoh’s cupbearer and chief baker land in prison and start dreaming dreams that Joseph–by God–correctly interprets.   In gratitude and, wholeheartedly, the cupbearer promises to remember Joseph before the king… then immediately forgets.

How long do you imagine Joseph sat in prison waiting to get his say?  How much hope do you think he had when the cupbearer headed into freedom?  How long did he sit on the edge of his bed, jumping up at every sound, just knowing this was the moment, unable to sleep for the anticpation?  How long before he sank into dejectedness and came the day he didn’t even bother to get out of bed?  From Joseph’s view, it was hopeless.

I’ve been there.  See, when I was mired down in fear for nearly ten years, I knew God could heal me.  I knew he was 100% capable.  Yet time after time after time, prayer after prayer after prayer, the healing didn’t come.  I begged.  I cried.  I raged.  I gave up.  I hoped.  I lost hope.  I hoped again.  Yet healing didn’t come.  Until my birthday, eleven years ago tomorrow, when He freed me completely, healed me totally, in a moment.  Over.  Done.  Free.

A few months ago, I sat with a student in the throes of a panic attack… and I knew what to say.  I knew how to respond.  And sitting there with 584970_untitledher, it came over me.  It was worth it.  Nearly ten years of crying out prepared me to sit with a hurting child.  And I finally, finally, finally saw why God waited.  He had a reason.  He had a purpose.  And even if it was just to help one heart, it was worth it.

It was the same with Joseph.  God waited.  He had a purpose for allowing Joseph to suffer.  No, I can’t explain it totally, but I know all Joseph went through prepped him to save thousands of lives later.  I know God knew what He was doing, even when Joseph thought he’d been locked in a dark, black, hopeless box.

We can’t see the whole chess board.  God can.  As hard as it is–and believe me, it’s hard to say it even–but that’s when trust happens.  That’s when we have to believe that we believe that we believe that God knows what’s coming, and none of this is wasted.  In the end, it’s going to be glorious beyond anything we can possibly see coming.

Jodie Bailey is Tarheel born and bred. After fifteen years as a military spouse, she’s proud to be a retired military spouse settled back in North Carolina with her husband and daughter. She is the author of the military suspense novel Freefall and is a contributor to Edie Melson’s devotional for military families, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home. When not working on her next novel, she teaches middle schoolers to love writing as much as she does (if she’s lucky that day and they’re actually listening…). Jodie loves to bake, ride the Harley with her husband, and fish the Outer Banks with their daughter. You can find her on the web at www.jodiebailey.com.

Her debut novel, Freefall, has been called amazing, awesome, and explosive:

9780373445691With one accusation, army officer Cassidy Matthews’s name, reputation—and life—are on the line. A Special Forces soldier insists that Cassy’s Fort Bragg-based unit is smuggling drugs. And the accuser? It’s Cassy’s handsome, stubborn ex-husband, Major Shane Logan. Shane knows Cassy is innocent, which is why he’s sure she’s being set up to take the fall. Proving it, though, means working together…and trying to ignore the feelings they still share. The closer they get—to the truth and each other—the more the danger grows from a ruthless criminal who’ll stop at nothing to destroy them both.

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Have you ever encountered someone going through a trial you once endured, and if so, how did your previous experience help you minister to them? Do you believe genuine compassion deepens with understanding? How might pain and struggle help us further God’s kingdom?

Let’s talk about this!

Share your stories with us in the comments below, on Living by Grace, or join our online Bible study. We’d love to have you!

How Deep is Your Love?

It’s easy to praise God when all is going well, but what about when life turns upside down? When we lived in Louisiana, we went through a period of unemployment that left us scrambling to sell our home before landing in debt. One afternoon as I sat in my van pouring my heart out to God, He asked me, “Do you love me now?” Basically, He asked me if my love was dependent on what He could or would do for me. Would I be a fair-weather Christian looking for a spiritual Genie or was I looking for a true, lasting, intimate relationship?

Thousands of years ago, Noah faced a similar choice. When the world as he knew it fell apart, would he still honor God, or would he choose to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, surrendering all to the Giver of life.

I stumbled upon today’s post, written by my dear friend and debut novelist, Jodie Bailey, when God was showing me what it meant to live a life of gratitude and praise. I hope you are blessed and challenged, like I was, by it.

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Genesis 6:9 (GWT)–This is the account of Noah and his descendants.  Noah had God’s approval and was a man of integrity among the people of his time.  He walked with God.

It’s hard to believe, but the people of Noah’s time were even more depraved than people today.  In fact, among the people of the earth, Noah (and likely those in his family) were the only ones who were considered to have integrity.  That’s an appalling thing to think about, isn’t it?  That in the entire world, only one person walked with God?

Makes our walk seem a little bit easier, doesn’t it?  It’s easy to watch the news and lament.  I’ve done it many times, so many times that I’ve essentially quit watching the news.  (I read it elsewhere.  Being uninformed is worse than being angry.)  No matter how bad it is right now, at least we have others to pray with and to be there for us.  I’ve seen it in the most amazing way over the past month or so, the way believers rally around each other in prayer even when they don’t know what they’re praying for exactly.  Who did Noah have to turn to?

Know the other thing?  We can’t complain about the way things are.  You don’t hear Noah complaining.  And he had every reason.  The thing is, we can still take action.  We can still band together against the wrong in the world.  God has us here at this time for a reason.  And trust me, it’s not to gripe about the way things are.  It’s to change them.  Shouldn’t our voices be heard now more than ever?  Noah had no one to stand with him.  We have countless others.  Why do we remain silent?  What would happen if we all spoke truth instead of sitting back and watching it happen?

Okay, so my toes hurt.  I’m talking about me here.  I know I don’t speak out near enough.  It’s time to use our voices more, don’t you think?

-JB

Jodie Bailey’s first novel, Freefall, releases in November 2012. She has been published in Teen magazine and collaborated on PWOC International’s latest Bible study. She has a B.A. double major in English literature and writing, and an M.Ed. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. She teaches middle school and lives in North Carolina with her husband and daughter. Visit her online.

Let’s talk about this. How might trials and difficulties reveal the depths of your faith? And how do our actions and reactions, both positive and negative, affect our witness? Do you have any stories you can share of a time when God turned a painful time into a blessing or an opportunity to serve?