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  • Writer's pictureJanean Tinsley

Lopsided Pictures

Romans 5:3-5 And that’s not all. We are full of joy even when we suffer. We know that our suffering gives us the strength to go on. The strength to go on produces character. Character produces hope. And hope will never let us down. God has poured his love into our hearts. He did it through the Holy Spirit, whom he has given to us.

“Either God sent it or He allowed it.”

I had just finished telling a friend about a monumental meltdown that I had the previous weekend. I was attempting to hang a picture on the wall of our “new to us” house that we were renting. It wasn’t working out so well. It was lopsided, which appeared to be a mocking reminder of how my life felt. Lopsided and chaotic. So, when I told my friend about it and how upset I was at the circumstances that led me to be hanging this print in a house that wasn’t mine, she responded with “either God sent it or He allowed it.” REALLY?!!

I found myself contemplating this phrase. In some ways, it made total sense. God is all-knowing and has the power to do what He pleases. But I just couldn’t buy into it. I mean, the God I have a relationship with is one of Love and Grace. Would that God actually send pain my way? Or was it the result of free will which caused bad decisions to be made? Slowly, peace replaced anguish. Acceptance replaced anger. Submission replaced unbelief. Could God be allowing these circumstances to change something within me? Was God granting permission to experience suffering for a specific reason?

Malachi 3:3 —

He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver. He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. They will belong to the Lord, presenting a righteous offering.

Can’t you just picture the silversmith purifying the silver? God is like the silversmith in our lives, refining us; He’s who burns away the dross, which is something that is unnecessary or trivial.

I cannot count the number of times I have asked why the suffering is occurring in my life. Why is the suffering occurring in some of my friends’ lives. These trials can feel like a punishment. Major roadblocks seem like they’re meant to make us miserable, just sucking the joy out of our lives. But as I read Malachi and many different translations, I can see that maybe I have been misunderstanding the meaning behind these trials. Maybe, just maybe, the pain actually serves a good purpose. And maybe God is using the pain to transform us with each anguish we persevere through. He is removing the “dross” from us. Each time we survive a major ordeal we grow stronger, wiser, more prepared for the next challenge. We are conquerors and overcomers with God’s help.

Ordeals, hardships, distresses are permitted by God for our perfection. But I do not believe that God causes pain. I do not believe that He brings this pain into our lives. Permitting pain to occur is much different then causing it. With free-will comes free suffering. He allows us to suffer through our choices so that we will be ultimately rely fully on Him. He wants us to see that when we seek our own guidance instead of His, the results are often painful and hard. But when we seek Him, we find comfort and peace. So the pain is allowed so that we might live in the peace.

Even knowing this knowledge about God and His love does not ease the immediate suffering. Tears still fall. Anxiety still rises. Fear still takes hold. But now I can feel the peace that I know is coming. You see, sometimes the best way for God to perfect us is through our tears, angst and suffering. However, if I am to fully believe God is permitting my pain, then I have to trust He has a purpose. I have had so many other people tell me that God “must have great things planned for me.” I hope so. I want to be a shinning example of His mercy and grace. I honestly have no idea what God has in store for me. I feel called to speak publicly about God’s grace. I think that if I keep all of this to myself then I am not glorifying God for all that He has done in my life. I know He isn’t the cause of my pain. I know that He isn’t the reason I feel angst and frustration. So I have to show that to others who might NOT know that.

The ultimate truth is this – nothing compares to having complete faith that the Lord is in control. When everything in my life seems be unstable, God is the rock that is unmovable. He won’t allow us to walk through any trial without having a greater purpose behind it. And He will hold your hand as you walk through it, letting you know He is right there with you.

Sometimes, a lopsided picture can be a reflection of our lives – chaotic, out of place. But sometimes a lopsided picture just needs to be straightened up.

Heavenly Father, sometimes life just seems overwhelming and the chaos becomes my focus instead of the peace. Thank you for your love and grace that is always constant. Help me to focus on your plan instead of my problem. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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