Shells remind me that life can be as stormy and turbulent as the sea. In fact, most of us would relate more to a shell that bears the scars of the ocean-depths over the pristine specimens in a bin at Craft World. The little chips and dings are much like the mistakes, storms, and detours we encounter as we journey through life. The bad news is those events will inevitably happen, but the good news is we are not alone. Everyone experiences them. The people who grace the pages of Scripture are no different. While we like to think that people like David, Moses, Peter and Paul are stellar examples of the faith, the truth is they were anything but! Peter lied about being one of Jesus’ disciples (Mk. 14:66-72; Lk. 22:54-62; Jn. 18:25-27) and impulsively cut off the ear of a servant when Jesus was arrested (Jn. 18:1-10), but David, Moses and Paul were all murderers (2 Sam. 11:1-27; Ex. 2:11-14; Acts 6:8-12; 7:54-60; 8:1-3; 22:4; 1 Cor. 15:9)! There are a number of notable women who struggled too: Miriam caused division among the Israelites (Num. 12:1-15), Esther kept her identity a secret (Est. 2:8-11), and Euodia and Syntyche were at such odds with one another they threatened to disease an entire house church (Phil. 4:1-3). There are also a host of men and women who suffered due to circumstances beyond their control (Joseph- Gen. 39:1, 6-9, 16-21, Hannah- 1 Sam. 1:1-8, Daniel- Dan. 6, and Epaphroditas- Phil. 2:25-30, to name a few).
No matter what the cause, suffering can have a positive outcome in our journey of faith. If it is caused by our own poor choices it can often be a source of discipline which the Lord is using to get us back on track (Dt. 8:5; Heb. 12:5-11). If its source is something beyond our control, it is an opportunity to rely on others and see effective prayer at work (Js. 5:13-16). If our suffering has occurred because we have taken a stand for Christ, we should not be surprised (Mt. 5: 10-12; Jn. 15:20-21). Our suffering mirrors what Christ endured for us (2 Tim. 1:8-9; Heb. 12:3). It would be wonderful if life never sent our little shell tumbling through the waves, but in this present world, we can expect it to happen.
If there was ever a man who understood the brokenness of life it was David. He not only made his aforementioned disastrous choice to murder Uriah, he suffered at the hands of others too. King Saul who asked him to serve in the court also tried to kill him (1 Sam. 18:10-11). He lived on the run as a result of Saul’s obsession to kill him (1 Sam. 23:24-29). He mourned the loss of a close friend who’d stood by him all those years on the run (2 Sam. 1) and his kingship was threatened by his own son (2 Sam. 15:1-12). But each one of those experiences directed David to the Lord. The events may have damaged and marred the shell of his life, but each dent and ding brought David into a deeper relationship with the Only One who could make sense of it all (Ps. 30:1-5, 10-12). This is true of your shell too. The suffering and sorrow that you encounter are opportunities to find solace and healing in God’s capable hands (Mt. 11:28-30; Jn. 16:33; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; Js. 1:12; 1 Pet. 5:6-7). When the Lord looks at you and your chips and broken pieces, He sees what’s in your heart (Ps. 51:17). And to Him it is beautiful.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre
For further reading: My Beautiful Broken Shell by Carol Hamblet Adams