The past year has been the most difficult year for me & my family. The first big UNEXPECTED storm was Bryan's kidney cancer and surgery, and him being out of work six weeks. Then another hospitalization just recently for another dear loved one. Mix all that in with the obvious demands of life in general, and being enrolled in the ultra-intense ultrasound program, and what we have is a recipe for exhaustion and discouragement.
But there is a lesson from 2012: It's okay to be Beaten.
2012 Theme: "Trials and Storms"
....in fact, too many to write, caused me to collapse at the Savior's feet on New Year's day.
However, during that time of sharing my heart with the Lord, and telling Him how I felt beaten beyond belief from the past year's storms, the Holy Spirit brought a Bible verse to mind: "He (Jesus) was beaten beyond recognition as a human." Isaiah 52:14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him[a]—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness— I began to wonder if perhaps the purpose for my 2012's trials and storms were to "beat me beyond recognition" so that others would no longer see "Tammi" but rather Him ????
That's when I looked up the definition of "beaten."
2: much trodden and worn smooth
3: being in a state of exhaustion
Of course, the #3 definition is how I was feeling. But after looking up the definition tonight, I wonder if #1 definition is what God has been doing ??
He is allowing these storms to "hammer" me into a desired shape: His purpose for my life.
It's Not About Me
During times of distress, it's very easy for me to become self-absorbed, "bogged down," worried & even question God. . . my eyes are turned inwardly, and I fail to remember that God loves and is concerned for every single human being on the planet, and wants everyone of us to know Him, to be freed from our struggles with our sinful nature, and to experience His power, victory and love!
If I turn my eyes upwards, I will gain a different perspective of the situation.
How can the lost and hurting souls around us know that God is love, full of compassion, patient, kind, merciful, strong, tenderhearted, faithful, true, (and the list could go on...) unless His children are reshaped into His image and used by Him to reach others?
But It Hurts!
Because of our inherited, fallen nature, we are all born with a predisposed "shape" ~ one bent naturally to do wrong ~ maybe not all of the time, but enough that we're unable to accurately serve His purpose for our lives.
Think of iron being heated white hot, then hammered relentlessly into shape, then tempered in cold water and reheated and hammered again. If the iron doesn't stand the test, it is thrown into a scrap heap.
This "business" of being tried by fire, hammered by storms, and plunged into icy cold waters of despair serves a purpose of The One Who created us ON Purpose, WITH a Purpose: God's.
Is it imperative for us to be reshaped? Yes, because our sinful nature has predisposed us to being disfigured and unusable in God's holy hands.
No matter how painful and overwhelming life's storms can be, I'm so thankful that I will not have to suffer the agony that Jesus willingly endured as payment for my sin. Because He was beaten beyond recognition, died a brutal and humiliating death on the cross ~ all for the purpose of reconciling my relationship with Him, why would I not allow Him to reshape me?
Even though life's circumstances can sometimes be very painful, it's comforting to remember God is in control. Romans 8:28 says as long as I am willing to serve His purpose, He has promised to turn everything (including the painful storms and bad times) into something good.
In doing so, He uses our lives to reach out to others as shining examples of what He longs to do for them!