Fleeing the dangers of gangs and drugs pervasive in the city she grew up in, single-mom Debra moved with five of her seven children to our area about two and a half years ago. Unable to find a job, Debra attended a Jobs for Life course offered at a local church where she not only gained job interview skills, but was touched by the spiritual caring and encouragement she received. It was the folks at Jobs for Life who connected Debra and I to begin a Counseling relationship that has been truly special.
That she came from a rough background was apparent but from the beginning her focus was on getting her life straight with God. As we worked together phrases such as,”I’m confused” or “I must have done something really wrong,” were expressions Debra frequently used as she tried to make sense of her upside-down world. Week after week we met, pouring over the Scriptures together to sort out the constant challenges of Debra’s life–when one son was incarcerated, her landlord took advantage of the situation by raising her rent. Pressure from other family and tense relationships with several of her co-workers workers seemed constant. Still, Debra found courage and strength in Scriptures such as:Psalms 46 and 139 Hebrews 12 I Peter James and Isaiah 30:15-22 . . . became her lifeline . . . to a Sovereign and Good God.
As time passed, Debra continued to express gratitude for God’s provision and protection over her and her family with a decent paying job and numerous Christians who reached out to her. At the conclusion of every Session I asked the same question, “Are you loved?” Every time she would look at me and smile shyly . . . “Yes, I am loved.” It was with that assurance that Debra continued to do the best she could with what she had.
Last week when we met she had yet another story to tell. Having moved herself and her two youngest children into the basement of a co-worker several months ago, she was hopeful that she had finally found a house to rent. She also told me about the encouragement she received from her pastor’s sermon on suffering the previous Sunday. As she spoke, I was awed by her thoughtful countenance as she quietly resolved, “I will never go back on my faith again.”
To continue to broaden the scope of the beauty worked out through suffering (and discipline) in the hands of our faithful God, we read Hebrews 12:7-13. Verses 10a-11 stood out mightily to Debra:” . . . but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline (or suffering) seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
The beauty I witnessed, was the transformed outworking of that “harvest of righteousness and peace” being manifested by Debra’s faith in a Sovereign and Good God. Ah yes, the wondrous clarity faith provides in suffering is totally out of this world!
Whatever challenge you may face, take heart as the God who loves us so completely watches over you . . . no matter what!
All to His Glory!