Girlfriends in God - Aug. 19, 2008

August 19, 2008
Does it Matter?
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
Isaiah 45:3 (NIV) I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.

Friend to Friend
For many months, I had been struggling in a desert, a place of emptiness and loneliness, because there was no joy in my life.  I began to cry out to God, pleading with Him to show me the problem.  He took me back to the week-end when I had taught at our church’s week-end services for the first time. My husband, Dan, had asked me to join him in teaching a lesson on marriage. Up until that point, I had only taught at conferences and retreats for women.  Even though I was a little unsettled when men showed up in the crowd, it seemed to go fairly well. 

After the services, I was exhausted and emotionally drained from a very busy week and certainly did not feel like cooking.  We headed to one of our favorite restaurants where we would join the rest of the church staff.  As we drove, I began to read through the comment cards from the people who had attended the weekend services.  Let me explain.  Every week, comment cards were distributed before each service and collected at the end of each service.  The purpose of the comment card was to get constructive feedback from first time visitors as well as church members.  The cards were usually handed to one of the other pastors, but when the very excited volunteer finished his first week of collecting the cards, he handed them to Dan and asked him to turn them in.  Big mistake!   

I came across one card that read, “Have we gotten so liberal that we now have women preachers in our pulpits?”  It felt as if someone had slapped my face and told me that I ought to be ashamed.  The comment really hurt my feelings.

When we pulled up to the restaurant, our youth pastor and his wife pulled up beside us.  They took one look at me and asked, “What is wrong?”  I promptly fell apart, handing them the comment card.  They spent the entire lunch trying to put me back together again and I really did think that I had dealt with the hurt and gotten over it.

One morning, however, I was getting ready to go to church and once again asked God to show me why my joy had vanished.  I asked Him show me the problem and show me the reason for my desert experience.  Then, I heard Him whisper, “Mary you need to forgive the person who wrote those words and the others as well.”  At first, I didn’t understand, but as I stood there in silence, a slow awareness flooded my heart and mind.  No, I hadn’t really forgiven the person who wrote those words, but I had also collected every hurt and criticism since that day, collecting and storing each one, allowing them to grow into a wall between myself and God.    

As new revelation washed over me, our young daughter came running into the room to show me the house that she and her best friend had just built out of Legos.  Just before she reached me, she tripped and fell, the house tumbling to the floor and shattering into hundreds of plastic pieces. 

I have always loved the way our daughter talks.  To this day, she can say things in the funniest way … and be so very accurate.  As she lay on the tile floor, surrounded by the pieces of the house she had worked so hard to build, she looked up at me and said, “Mama, does it matter?”  In that moment, I saw myself running to the Lord with my collection of hurts, spilling them at His feet and asking, “Father, does it matter?”  I had spent a lot of time compiling those hurts.  I had nourished and cherished them to the point that they were thriving – but they suddenly seemed very small as His words ripped down the wall of hurt I had so carefully built.  “Mary,” He said, “They don’t matter, but for months, your gaze has been on them and your occasional glance has been on Me.  Lay them down. They do not matter!” As I surrendered the hurt to my Father, He replaced it with joy and peace. 

No matter where you are or where you have been, my friend, it is no surprise to God, and He loves you still. There is purpose and power in your pain. Search for the nugget of gold, the hidden treasure in the darkness.  Look for the riches stored in secret places. God is with you and that’s really all that does matter.

Let’s Pray
Father, thank You for the forgiveness You so freely give. Please help me to walk in that forgiveness as I surrender each hurt to You.  Help me to keep my eyes on You instead of on things that don’t matter. I love You, Lord, and thank You for the wonderful plan You have for my life – pits and all!  In Jesus’ name, I pray.  Amen.

Now it’s Your Turn

  • Are there any old wounds or hurts that you have not dealt with?  
  • How have they impacted your life?  
  • Are you willing to lay them down at the feet of Jesus and leave them there?
  • Set aside some time today to be alone with God.  Ask Him to show you any places in your heart that have not healed.  If you need to forgive someone or ask their forgiveness, do it today.  If you simply need to let go, make the deliberate choice to do so.  
  • Celebrate the healing and joy that God offers in exchange for you pain.

More from the Girls
I really believe that one of the greatest hindrances to joy and peace in the lives of many women is the fact that they have not truly faced and dealt with pain and hurt.  If that is you, girlfriend, know that we are praying for you, asking God to bring you to the place of healing and freedom.  Mary wrote the book, Hope in the Midst of Depression as a testimony to the fact that God can and will deliver you from the darkness.  Check it out.

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Matthews, NC 28106

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Originally published Tuesday, 19 August 2008.