Why Waste a Devastated Space

I want to begin with my sincerest apology for not posting yesterday, as is my customary commitment. In the swirl of new schedules with homeschooling and transitions into new seasons, the recent Monday holiday didn’t register as a writing day in my disheveled brain. I had rest on the agenda, and never did get beyond that! I hope that you, too, found rest from your labor and enjoyed the sunshine!

Today I want to pick up with a thread from last week’s post, Holes Are for Planting, Not Covering [https://shedancesovergraves.com/2020/08/31/holes-are-for-planting-not-covering/]. I’ve been chewing on this topic a lot, and I want to revisit it, because while I believe God wants to repurpose our pain and the gaping holes it can often leave in our souls, I also believe there is more than agreement for us to lend to the process.

True faith leads to action, and the actions we take in alignment with God’s will produce supernatural results – not only in our own lives, but for the sake of others, as well.

I am reminded of Isaac, in the Scriptures. Remember, the son that Abraham, in obedience to God, laid upon an altar and nearly killed? Talk about a wound to have to heal from! I can just imagine Isaac in a recovery group or counseling session today: “Yeah, my dad tried to kill me. He said God told him to do it.” That could certainly do a number on one’s self-esteem, even if his life was spared! Nevermind the responses of the listening audience. How God could ever be glorified in a situation like that is a mystery to me….and yet He was.

God preserved Isaac, and somehow, Isaac’s trust in God was also preserved. The same God that led him to the altar of more than he wanted to sacrifice also led him to sow in a barren land – a place of devastation. Isaac not only agreed, but he obeyed. He did what God asked him to – he stayed put and endured the sting of not having enough. And because He obeyed in the uncomfortable and uncertain, God caused him to prosper in a place that was seemingly God-forsaken.

Genesis 26:12 tells us that Isaac sowed in that land – that empty, devastated land, and in the same year that he sowed, he reaped a return of 100 times more than he had planted [https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%2026%3A12-14&version=NIV]. Isaac looked a devastated space straight in the face, and with God’s wisdom, he not only embraced it, but he determined to do something with it. He sowed right into it. And out of it grew a great blessing for many. I imagine that his own faith also must have grown right alongside that bumper crop!

So, too, Joseph – after suffering through some truly treacherous and traumatic experiences, chose to sow into the devastated places in his own life. As a captive slave in a foreign land, seemingly stripped of his identity, purpose, family and dreams, he submitted himself to what he could not change. And he determined somehow to survive there. As he endured through the many unjust betrayals and harsh conditions he faced, God began to open doors of opportunity for him.

He could have refused to go through those doors. He could have stayed stuck in his grief over what was lost, and grown bitter in soul over all that would now never be. But he didn’t. Instead, he bowed his head, and he served. Wherever he was, he rose up in the ranks to become a trusted servant, until he was eventually promoted to being the right hand man to the ruler of the land which he once dreaded to be a dweller in.

It was there that God blessed him with a family, and when his first son was born, he named him Manasseh, which translated to a declaration that God had caused him to forget all of his troubles. He had been brought, finally, into a time of joy and relief. His second son’s name was an even greater declaration, and one which corroborates the thrust of this blog post:

“The name of his second son he called Ephraim, for he said, ‘God has made me fruitful in the land of my grief (some versions say ‘in the land of my affliction’ or ‘in the land of my suffering’).'” Genesis 41:52

Did you catch that?! Joseph sowed into the hole in his life – the place of his deepest devastation. He chose to stay where God had placed him, and he chose to thrive there, by intentionally doing something purposeful with it.

And because he did so, God blessed him and multiplied his influence and his provisions, until he became a source of blessing to the entire nation, and even the world. His leadership in the time of famine led the place of his imprisonment to become a place which provided the nations with bread when their own lands were in want. Not so coincidentally, the place of his imprisonment (and intentional sowing) also became the site of reconciliation with his family.

Returning to the story of Isaac, we are reminded of our very human tendency to want to escape hardship and run from the devastated places in our lives. Isaac, in the time of famine, appeared to be headed for Egypt, where things were good. Where there was plenty. He had made it to Gerar, one of the towns at the border of Canaan, just before crossing over into Egypt.

There, God met him and reminded him that the promised land was not somewhere else where the grass looked greener and the cupboards could be fuller. It was right where he stood – on ground that could bare nothing, but which – when embraced – God would cause to yield something beautiful and beyond comprehension.

I can imagine that being a difficult concept to fathom, much less embrace. We tend to want to start with something a little easier to work with. A prefabricated frame, at least. But right from the beginning, God chose to bring order and beauty out of chaos. He still chooses to take spaces – voids – without any conceivable form in them – and bring forth something incredible.

You might be wondering what this process could look like in your life. I’ll share a few examples, just to get your wheels turning, and to give you some direction to pray toward.

I know a woman who is a survivor of sexual abuse. She was repeatedly molested as a young girl, for years that seemed endless to her. This was no place she ever wanted to stay stuck in, or to return to once the nightmare had ended. Yet, in her most devastated place, God called her to stare at it and to dig into it and to believe there was something worth sharing from it. As she faced her pain and anguish, and the deep mess it had made in her life, her story became a place of hope and healing. The gaping hole in her soul was filled with purpose, and she started a ministry that now helps women all over the country to heal from their own sexual abuse trauma (https://www.journeytohealministries.org/).

I know another woman whose marriage survived the treachery of a pornography addiction. But before she was done surviving it, she sensed the Lord calling her to sow time and service into an organization that helped to rescue women from human sex trafficking. Although she didn’t connect the dots at first, it later became clear that God had asked her to sow into the land of her own devastation. He had called her to serve the very population which had ravaged her heart through the luring of her husband’s affections into visual infidelity. And as she sowed, spending several years there, God not only healed her heart, but healed her marriage, as well.

I know still others who have been incarcerated and experienced the dark void of a place empty of compassion and hope, and have purposed to study and position themselves to serve within that broken community. Their presence is a very real inspiration to the many who see no way out of their cycles.

And still more have suffered deep grief and loss, in unimaginable proportions, and have chosen to start with that tangled mess of pain and do something purposeful with it. They have worked through their process, and submitted to their own fire, allowing themselves to be refined by it. Then they have stepped into a space full of other grieving hearts, and they have poured their wisdom, strength and hope into them, so that their devastated places could grow in purpose, too.

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, I hope you are beginning to see that the holes in your life – the devastated places – are not things we should run from. To do so would be to waste them, when God has intended for them to become opportunities for great blessing. Out of our deepest devastations can – and should – come our greatest triumphs. So the God of the cross has purposed. Every gravesite should become a dancefloor, when once we realize that devastation is never the end of a story placed in the hands of such a good God.

If your devastated places cause you to question the goodness of God, you’re not alone. Every example I gave you above had to wrestle through that dilemma. But there is one simple solution they all discovered: taking our devastations straight back to the cross.

Take them before the very God you’re not quite sure you can trust, and just see what He might do with them. When we draw near rather than pull away, the holes in our souls become wombs bursting with the potential for new life.

I assure you that Joseph and Isaac and any other person in Biblical history also had their moments of doubt and uncertainty. But their choice to respond by remaining where they were planted and believing the God Who had appeared to forsake them, resulted in their lives bearing fruit they could not have pulled out of themselves.

Today, beloved one, look into your deepest devastations and determine to see them become more than regrets or scars. There is beauty in those ashes! You just might need to roll your sleeves up and get in there! Pray that God will show you how to overturn the tombstones and dig into the hidden treasures reserved for your heart and the hearts of many more!

{Photo images courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com}


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