I received this email from a precious lady the other day, and though I receive a lot of emails and don’t get to respond personally to most, I felt compelled to respond to this one. When you read it, I think you’ll see why.
After sending her my response, I knew I had to share this question and answer here on my blog, even though it means making myself far more vulnerable than I might feel comfortable with. But then again – my goal this year was to “get uncomfortable” – right?
If you’ve ever had something bad happen and asked “Where is God in all of this?” – I hope this blesses you. And maybe provides a little comfort, if not clarity.
I love your posts and blogs but most of it has no relevance for a 60 year old woman. I am rejected or ignored constantly because of my age and often feel invisible. Plus, when I do date someone and feel comfortable enough to disclose that I have Hepatitis C, they disappear. So, where is God in all this, Mandy?
I’m so grateful you reached out to me. And I hope to answer your question as best as I can.
I would like to respond to “Where is God in all this?” Because this I know from experience.
Where God is in all this is sitting right next to you even as you read this, holding your hand. Where God is in all this is so very evident in that he loves you so much, He inspired you to reach out to a total stranger on the Internet just so He could speak directly to you through that stranger. Where God is in all this is always present, never absent, with a heart that’s literally broken to see His precious child in so much pain.
No, God doesn’t cause disease or infirmary or pain, but He sure can use it, my friend.
I wanted so badly to get the answer to your question right that I turned to a pastor friend for spiritual guidance, and here is his response…
“My dad has always reminded me of the struggles that the Old Testament Joseph had in prison. Convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, spent years in prison languishing. Then God resolved his issues in a big way, making him second in command in Egypt and enabling him to save many lives in the process, including his family’s.
Or there’s the Apostle Paul who speaks of his mysterious “thorn in the flesh.” Three times he pleads with God to take it away! But God so calmly responds, “My power is made perfect in your weakness.” God is working wonderful things through this sweet lady, and one of them is he is drawing her closer to him.”
To be really, really vulnerable and transparent with you… I will tell you that I have struggled with anxiety my entire life. Not just a little anxiety here and there, or normal nervousness… but big, scary, awful, crippling anxiety. It doesn’t rear its ugly head very often these days, but oh boy, when it does! The territory of my life is not nearly as wide and big and bold as it should be because my cross to bear is anxiety. And no, it’s not the same as your disease… but it’s horrible and embarrassing and debilitating in its own right. And I’ve begged God to take it away. Literally pleaded for the cup to pass from me. And so far, it hasn’t. Now… do I think that means God isn’t hearing my prayers or he’s turning a blind eye or he’s a mean God? Absolutely not. I think that He hasn’t taken away my anxiety because there are still lessons for me to learn from it. I think he loves me so much, he wants me to see how important it is for me to allow him to be my strength in times of weakness. And I think in a lot of ways, my anxiety keeps me dependent on him, which ensures we have a closer and more precious relationship than we would if I were to be instantly healed. Would I hand over my anxiety in a New York minute if I could and never deal with another panic attack? Probably. But am I mad at God for not taking it away? No. Because I trust that he has his reasons. And his reasons are always, always better than mine. And I know someday anxiety is going to be a major platform for me and I’m going to be able to speak into the lives of women who are struggling with the same thing, and reach precious souls who I would have absolutely nothing to encourage them about if I lived a perfect, blemish-free, pain-free existence.
You see, your pain is your purpose. The gift you have been given to speak into the lives of women your age struggling with similar loneliness and isolation is, in fact, a gift. Just like my singleness at age 35 as I watch all of my friends get married and have babies and do all the things I’ve longed for my entire life is a gift. Trust me, it’s not easy being single at this age, either! But it is part of my story. And my story is precious and purposeful and perfectly planned by God… and yours is, too. So I would encourage you and even challenge you now, my friend. Don’t sit around mourning everything you’ve lost and everything you don’t have. Get out there and start taking hold of what you do have! A platform. A sphere of influence. The ability to speak to other people in pain and struggling just like you. Start a blog. Join a support group. Find a church. Everyoneis struggling with something… and when you start to connect with people going through similar battles or even completely different battles as you… it will remind you that you’re not alone. And you are not alone. God loves you and adores you and wants so badly for you to turn to him and cry out to him the way you did to me. Yell at him. Scream if you have to. He can take it. Because you are infinitely more precious to him than the person who is pridefully breezing through life, pretending not to have a care in the world. The Bible says the Lord is close to the broken-hearted and those who are crushed in spirit. He is close to you, friend. As close as this computer screen is to you. He’s there. He’s waiting. All you have to do is reach out and grab the hem of his cloak.
Mandy Hale, affectionately known as “The Single Woman” by her million+ readers and fans, is the author of I’ve Never Been to Vegas but My Luggage Has and creator of thesinglewoman.net. With a heart to inspire single women to live their best lives and to never, ever settle, Mandy cuts to the heart of the matter with her inspirational, straight-talking, witty, and often wildly humorous take on the life of a modern single woman.