Today is actually a special day to me as I have had the incredible privilege of leading Agape for 3 years now. Through the ups and the downs, I am deeply passionate about what we do and overwhelmed with gratitude for this wonderful community that loves fiercely and hopes abundantly. I realize that it this post may not be proper etiquette for an Executive Director to write; however, as I am reflecting on the past 3 years, and 2015 so far, I believe that etiquette can take a quiet back seat for a brief moment. So let me just tell you now that this post is vulnerable and transparent but I know that it will meet many of you where you are. And I pray that you find peace, comfort and encouragement.
This year has not been easy. From the loss of our equine companion Seth (whom we all continue to miss), to volunteers and staff members who have lost very precious loved ones, to the pain of infertility, to friends and family experiencing unimaginable heartache and pain – these are deeply sad, confusing experiences. Many days I have felt like the Psalmist in this verse, “I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me” (Psalm 22:14).
These are circumstances that often leave me searching for the “why” and pleading for understanding from God. Thoughts and questions enter my mind such as, “God, why would you let this happen? Why is this ok?” I don’t understand. I don’t understand. I don’t understand.
Then buried deep within my soul is this fierce reminder that I trust in a God that is good. And rather than trying to understand why God would allow such pain, I choose to dwell on what I do understand – that God is One who sits with us in our agony and weeps; as One who bleeds with me and who provides a steady presence through pain. This still leaves me wondering why God won’t remove burdens from our lives, but I have also experienced that these are the times that tend to be the greatest catalysts for growth. So here is what I am learning about suffering, trust, and understanding.
Suffering is sacred.
Suffering is a holy experience and can connect me to God. Matthew 5:3-5, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”
Suffering provides opportunity.
The greatest truth I have learned this year is that while I may not understand the purpose of pain, I do understand that pain can yield valuable fruit depending on how I choose to respond to. I have a choice in how I respond to tragedy. There is meaning in how I respond to the things that happen to my friends, my family, and our beloved Agape horses, volunteers and staff. So when I do not understand why something happens – I choose to trust. To trust that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.” (Romans 8:28) Not that I am exempt from pain, but that I can choose to respond to all things from a place of love and goodness and there is this promise that I will be better because of it. I choose to remember that it is God’s breath in my lungs and I am called to be a faithful steward of this great gift. I choose gratitude. Gratitude for creation, and life, and this beautiful purpose to serve. And gratitude for the community at Agape. A community full of faithfulness, grace, comfort, and love.
So be encouraged in your suffering and choose trust beyond understanding, hope in the promise, and gratitude for God’s goodness. And if you need a space to help you remember these things – Agape is here.
Thank you for letting me serve you these past 3 years.