Here’s an amazing thing. God offers to covenant with you. Contracts depend on laws that can be broken, but a covenant is a perpetual pledge. God promises to protect and provide for you and give you eternal blessings when you believe Jesus is who He says He is. This covenant is so loving, so giving, that you may not notice its postscript: I will wreck your life.
How could a loving God do that?
Because He loves us as we are—but He also loves us enough to not let us stay where we are.
In 2003, when I was desperately ill with a “mystery disease” that wouldn’t be diagnosed for another ten years, I cried out to God, “I can’t do this anymore. I can barely drag myself out of bed, let alone go to work. Something has to change.”
But not how I’d hoped.
God’s invisible blueprint, visible wrecking ball
God didn’t tell me what was wrong with me or fix it. Instead, He gave me one message: “Pray for your country. Don’t stop until I tell you to.”
I was like, WHAT?
I lost my dream job I’d been working for ten years. I was told I could “no longer perform its essential functions.”
In intractable pain and often bedfast, I turned to the Psalms for comfort. Thinking I might not live much longer, I read through them as fast as I could. I charted each Psalm’s primary emphasis: praise, protection, provision, wisdom, mercy, healing, judgment, or other. And I noticed something extraordinary.
Only one Psalm doesn’t contain any praise. That’s one out of one hundred fifty.
Also notable: David prayed for spiritual healing more than physical healing. He prayed for spiritual deliverance as much as he prayed for physical deliverance from his enemies.
How to process God’s wrecking
Most important: David processed his problems through prayer.
David was anointed to be the next king of Israel, yet he spent thirteen years running for his life before that materialized. No matter how hard his life got, regardless of his fears, frustrations, and shortcomings, when David turned his attention to God, his heart changed. Even when his circumstances didn’t.
He would start a Psalm with a lament and end it with praise, as in Psalm 13:
“How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?” (vs 2)
“I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” (vs 6)
Joni Earekson Tada says, “Finding Jesus in the midst of your hell is ecstasy beyond compare.” When she talks, I listen. She’s been in a wheelchair fifty-four years, endures chronic pain, has had cancer twice; and COVID-19 recently ravaged her quadriplegic-weakened lungs.
So what does that mean for you and me?
A bigger, better work in progress
First, a note of what I don’t mean. There’s a difference between what God causes and what He allows. It’s easy to blame God for causing catastrophes. It’s harder to admit God allows difficulties into our lives. But whatever He allows, He uses for His purposes.
Wrecking necessarily precedes building. At times, God wrecks us to do a bigger work in and through us. His plans are for us but stretch unimaginably beyond us.God wrecks us to do a bigger work in and through us. His plans are for us but stretch unimaginably beyond us. Click To Tweet
Elizabeth Johnston says, “Sometimes God wrecks your life to save your life.”
If I’d known back in 2003 all that would happen to me in the next ten years, I would have curled up in a ball indefinitely. In 2009, I almost died. (Strange how you know when you’re actively dying.) I couldn’t believe it was the end for me, but I prayed, “God, please take me. I’m ready. At least my husband will be able to live a normal life again.”
God’s answer was so swift and emphatic that it took my breath away. “Lana, I died for you. I died for everyone else, too. It’s not your job to die for anyone.”
That gave me the courage to press on. Through misdiagnoses, failed treatments, divorce, and much more loss.
Thank God for His wrecking ball
It’s counterintuitive to thank God for wrecking your life. But it’s selfish to not trust Him when it happens. Without that trust, God can’t take us from good to much better.
It’s easy to get so caught up in our problems or others’ opinions that we miss what God is doing. I believe God’s nudge for me to pray for the United States was His first step in turning my dwindling energy away from myself to refocus on Him.
Looking for God in the wrong places
In March 2020, photographer Eric J. Smith snapped this incredible image of whale watchers in Baja. Everyone had aimed their cameras at the water in front of them because someone spotted a calf. But no one saw mama whale right behind their boat. Just as everyone turned around, mama sank back below the surface.
Isn’t that like us when we want to see God working in our lives? We don’t even look in the right direction. Or we see the smallest fraction of what we think He’s doing and are satisfied with that—instead of seeking God Himself.
God wants our life to be more about Him than it is about us. Sometimes He wrecks it to make His point. Sometimes He asks nothing more of us than to abide in Him. Sometimes that’s all we’re capable of doing. When we see Jesus for who He is and what He has done, our problems shrink to a proper perspective.
God’s season of wrecking
In His perfect timing, God’s wrecking will end. Every Bible verse of “it came to pass” and “in the fullness of time” points to Divine working as a season with a beginning and an end. It’s not a one-and-done-forever thing. But when God brings you to it, He brings you through it. Because He covenanted to do so.
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My mystery illness was late-stage neurologic Lyme disease, the severest form of Lyme. Today I have no measurable sign of the disease.
The feature image of a race car is a nod to my growing up within walking distance of the Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway.
G.D. Watson, from his book Soul Food: “When the suffering soul reaches a calm, sweet carelessness, when it can inwardly smile at its own suffering and not even ask to be delivered, then it works its blessed ministry. Then the cross you carry begins to weave itself into a crown. When we give our suffering over to God and sink ourselves into His will, He will make every pain work its divine purpose in our lives.”