God uses everything in our lives for his purposes if we are committed to following him. God wastes nothing, our successes, our failures, our mistakes, messes, and even our stupidity. God is a master-weaver who takes every thread of our lives and weaves it into something beautiful.
We sometimes do things right. We sometimes listen to God and follow his path, but other times we don’t listen and head down the wrong road. We look back with regret and are ashamed of our choices and our behavior. However, God uses it all!
For example, when Sarah saw Ismael making fun of her 3-year-old son Isaac, she insisted that Hagar and Ismael be sent away. Sarah did not act right! She was rude and indifferent, but she loved God. God did not abandon Sarah for her mess up. God saw that the situation distressed Abraham, and he said: “It’s alright Abraham, I will take care of Hagar and Ismael.”
This whole mess is the result of Abraham and Sarah’s lack of faith, and it brought him much distress. God, however, graciously worked in his confusion to make sense out of it. God weaves all the colors of our heartaches into something beautiful. God overrules our mistakes, sins, disobedience, and messes to create his own plan, and it is always beautiful.
Affliction is necessary for our lives to experience depth. David said that before he was afflicted, he went astray (Ps 119:67). Without hardship and trials, our lives would be superficial and without the depth of substance. God works with us in those trials to help us grow and mature.
Frederick Buechner writes:
We believe in God—such as it is, we have faith—faith—because certain things happened to us once and go on happening. We work and goof off, we love and dream, we have wonderful times and awful times, are cruelly hurt and hurt others cruelly, get mad and bored and scared stiff and ache with desire, do all such human things as these, and if our faith is not mainly just window dressing or a rabbit’s foot or fire insurance, it is because it grows out of precisely this kind of rich human compost. The God of biblical faith is the God who meets us at those moments in which for better or worse we are being most human, most ourselves, and if we lose touch with those moments, if we don’t stop from time to time to notice what is happening to us and around us and inside us, we run the tragic risk of losing touch with God too.[i]
Buechner talks about being a good steward of our pain, and if we are, God will use us in ways that affect others’ lives in profound ways. Many people run from pain. Some try to forget it by repressing their bad memories. Others blame their suffering on someone else. Some take the victim mentality. Still, others become embittered by their pain. God wants us to see our powerlessness and at the same time, see his power. When that happens, God can use us in marvelous ways, even in times of suffering.
[i]Buechner, Frederick. Telling Secrets (pp. 35-36). HarperOne. Kindle Edition.