My mother liked to repurpose things such as cereal boxes, pudding cups, toilet paper rolls— you name it. It gave her joy to take something that was going to be thrown in the trash and turn it into something useful or beautiful.
While this sounds like an endearing memory of my sweet mom, sometimes it was embarrassing. Why? My mom would go through my trash, you guys—mine and my neighbors! The woman had no shame!
Mom didn’t like things going to waste. Neither does God.
In fact, when something went wrong in life, mom would often say, “God never wastes a hurt.” And then she would quote Romans 8:28,
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
But ya know what? All things are not good.
Cancer is not good. Child abuse is not good. Drug and alcohol addiction is not good.
And yet, here it is in scripture, “In ALL things God works for the good…”
Tell that to someone who endured the horrors of child abuse. Or to someone whose husband committed suicide in front of her and their children.
How do we reconcile things like this?
Recently I read that the chemical sodium found in table salt is deadly. But when you combine chloride (also deadly) with sodium, together they flavor our foods beautifully.
This is a perfect example of how God takes something intended for evil (deadly poison) and turns it around for our good. He does this because HE IS GOOD.
Our world is broken because of sin. But God can and does work for the good even in what seems beyond repair.
Think about Jesus dying on the cross. Evil. Jesus rising from the dead. Glorious.
And still, my mother’s words echo in my mind, “God never wastes a hurt.” But I have found there’s a caveat to this idea.
God doesn’t waste a hurt, but sometimes we do.
Some of our hurts are not of our own doing, but from the sin of another, or the side-effects of living in a broken world.
However, if we are honest, there are a number of self-inflicted hurts.
Often times when things go south, we just look for the quickest way out of the hardship.
Could it be that God is teaching us (and/or those around us) in the midst of our storm? Could it be that we brought on the hardship through our own sin and God is allowing it to draw our attention to His loving grace and mercy? Ya know, that dreaded word: discipline.
I’m reminded of a time when one of my cats snuck into my craft box and got herself twisted up in my yarn. The more she frantically struggled to free herself, the tighter the yarn became. It was a nightmare getting a flailing, yowling cat lose from all that yarn.
And guess what? That cat got in my craft box and did the same thing only a few days later!
“They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Is this ringing a bell? We can be just like the cat. The yarn was enticing and fun … for a little while until like a spider’s web, we are stuck. Many of us have scars (emotional and physical) to remind us of our foolishness. However, our gracious heavenly Father teaches us by His loving discipline, but only if we are willing not to waste the hurt.
Perhaps rather than searching for the quickest escape, we should linger in the pain in order to gain heavenly insight.
Friends, the Lord wants to go through our “trash.” He wants to repurpose, and make it into something useful and beautiful. Whether it’s evil that we never invited, or our own foolishness, the Lord is The Master at making all things new!
The question is not IF the Lord can, but rather, will we let Him?
I’m forever grateful that my Father never wastes a hurt and always recycles!
I hope you’ll join me next Monday for part 2 “The Devil is a Dumpster Diver” which will include some practical application for allowing the Lord to use our “trash.”
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