The Beautiful Ache

A few weeks ago I was browsing a blog...I wish I could remember whose...and saw a reference to Leigh McLeroy's The Beautiful Ache. For some reason, it caught my eye, and I immediately looked it up on Amazon. Then I did what I *never* do, and ordered it...on the spot. Now...this is coming from someone who waits for *years* sometimes to get a book used at just the right price. ;-) I have no idea why I decided to order this book knowing *almost* nothing about it...other than the fact that God knew that I was going to need it.

It came last week, and I began reading it as soon as I unwrapped it. I was amazed at how perfectly it spoke to me exactly where I was at that very moment...and where I am now.

Tomorrow holds an event on which we have waited...with quite mixed emotions...for almost 18 months. An event that has been scheduled, delayed, rescheduled, and postponed until I think we frankly had about ceased to believe it would ever really happen. Mixed emotions doesn't even really begin to convey the chaos of feelings it brings...from deep, deep sorrow at the senseless pain the actions of one has caused so many, to intense relief that finally, perhaps, we can move on with our lives and begin to find a *new normal*. We have waited so long, prayed so hard, and concurrently hoped and dreaded so incomprehensibly that now that the actual event is upon us, it almost seems as though it will be a complete anticlimax.

I've struggled greatly with the giant range of emotions the past few weeks...many related to tomorrow, and a few created by unrelated hurts that have just hopped on for the ride. The whole situation has suddenly come to the forefront for a couple of my children again, and tonight has brought meltdowns I am ill-equipped to handle at the moment.

I sat down to try to get a few minutes of peace and quiet...in between the dog barking, the four year old coming in covered in house paint ("Look, Mommy, Me help Daddy!!"), and the ever-present sinkful of dishes calling out to be washed...and realized again that I did not order this book on accident. God knew that these words were a reminder I would desperately need on this night:

" Like me, the Israelites were barely 'out of town' before their massive and miraculous exodus screeched to a halt. Backed into a corner at the edge of the Red Sea, they faced the sure menace of Pharoah's oncoming army. The only choice left to them seemed to be not whether to die, but how: by an Egyptian soldier's sword, or by slow drowning in salty waves? The same God who--by plagues and miracles--had weakened Pharoah's resolve to keep Israel in slavery now changed the Egyptian ruler's heart again: 'For Pharoah will say of the sons of Israel, "They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in." Thus I will harden Pharoah's heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharoah and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.'

"It made no sense. Why would God lead His people out and then threaten their very lives? Why would He arrange the all-too-soon showdown at the Red Sea? For His own glory, the Bible records. For His reknown. For His great fame and name. It seems that more was at stake than the Israelites' straight, comfortable, and expeditious journey to the promised richness of Canaan. Their going out was as much about the trip itself as it was the destination. They may have been focused simply on getting from point A to point B. God was focused on much, much more than that. Through time and tears and hardship, He would build their faith and cause them to boast in His provision. He would make believers out of opposing armies and prove His faithfulness again and again. His chosen ones were weak and dependent. He was mighty and strong. This was the truth they would be called to relearn at every bend in the road. "


"Could unarmed Israel have defeated Egypt in their own strength if they had turned and fought at the edge of the sea? Not likely. Had a single Israelite ever witnessed a body of water--any body of water--cleave itself in two? Negative again. But these end-result-oriented people were only just getting to know their process-happy God. In the months and years that ensued, they would find themselves helpless and held fast by circumstance many times, and He would surprise them at every turn......

"....They grew in faith, and He got glory. Lots of it. But they would never have chosen such a rigorous drill had the choice been left up to them. They were learning to be God's people in God's presence by God's power. They were tasting His kingdom, still miles and years from Canaan." (Leigh McLeroy, The Beautiful Ache)

For anyone who is experiencing a time of suffering, I would wholeheartedly recommend The Beautiful Ache as a must-read.

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