“We serve a God who does way past your way past.”  Priscilla Shirer

She sobs a puddle in my arms, and I find my own tears mixing in with hers.

“Mama, sometimes I just want to be able to do the one thing I can’t do.”

Haven’t we all felt this way?

It’s been 8 months since Faith’s surgery correcting her broken neck, and we rejoice the surgery was a complete success. She is able to participate in miles more than we were told would be possible. But as far as those miles take her, she can never resume her first love: gymnastics.

Most days, she plays contentedly with pretty cartwheels and whatnot. But from time to time the itch to push the limits of what is physically wise surfaces, so I furrow my brows and break out the dreaded no. Her two closest friends are knee-deep in gymnastics, therefore reminders and conversation surrounding the sport lean close. And while Faith generally doesn’t mind this and has made leaping strides in accepting she can’t further participate in gymnastics herself, she misses it.

She pulls away from my arms, watery doe eyes looking straight at me. She shakes her head and sighs,

“Nothin’ is as fun as gymnastics.”

I tell her it’s okay to feel that way. Because there ain’t nothin’ fun about dreams dying or loves leaving.

She genuinely gives thanks for so much. She knows when God closes one door He opens another. She believes in faith that something better is coming tomorrow, even if she can’t see it today.

But…

Today it hurts, and the pain of today makes the promises of tomorrow feel far away.

I read words from Ephesians, where Paul writes of our God who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think. God’s dreams for us are way past anything we can fathom. But even if we know that we know this is true, today it hurts.

In the Faithful Abundant True Bible study, Priscilla Shirer explains it this way:

“His way past is so beyond our wildest imagination that it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a matter of making us happy right here and now. His kingdom purposes are so beyond. They are so grand and are being worked out in such a way that they might be beyond our mental capacity to comprehend.”

He uses everything – especially our unhappy todays – to prepare us for His promise of better tomorrows. 

My eyes move further back in Ephesians, and I see Paul mentions “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” A bit more research and I am amazed by the translation comparisons for these unsearchable riches, or rather His extraordinary plans:

Endless treasures.

Unfathomable riches.

Immeasurable wealth.

Inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ.

When our hearts ache over lost loves or dying dreams, we latch onto healing and hope through faith that God has a game plan in store for us that will blow our ever-loving minds. Because God’s ‘way past’ dreams for us make our own look like the dollar store variety.

It isn’t easy to believe His ‘no’ today is for a better ‘yes’ tomorrow. But God is good all the time. Everything is a grace from Him, even our unhappy todays.

How do you latch onto hope during difficult todays? How have you seen their purpose in creating better tomorrows?

Kristen Strong, Chasing Blue Skies

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  1. 1

    I am trying to see beyond the pain and trauma of this world and just rest in His promises. I am trying to loosen my grip on trying to understand the why’s why’s why’s of what God is doing in our lives since the death of our sweet 12 year old son, yet still recognizing the fruit that has come from one little boy’s short life.

  2. 2

    This is a hard subject and one I find changes as we mature in our understanding of God and the bigger picture in life and eternity. In 1985, I was told I had 6 months to live after inhaling dangerous chemicals in an electrical fire. The chemicals were causing my body to decline faster than the doctors could stop it. Talk about a bad day, while the doctors sent me home to die; God had other plans I could not understand the fullness of them until 2 years later. He taught me to live one day at time to enjoy my one and only child at the time. Four years later, He gave us another child as if to say, live on until I call you home. That child is now 24 years old and my constant companion, as health issues still plague my life, but the joy of the Lord sustains it. When I look around, I get down, but when I look up, things look ever so much brighter. Remembering His plan for this life is to be our proving ground for our faith and not His is a wonderful way to keep perspective on problems. He calls us to renew our minds daily, to die to self daily, problems, trials and tough times are His way of reminding us of the call to trust and have faith in Him, no matter what things look like. Have a blessed day.

    • 3

      Oh Eileen, what soul encouragement you bring us here today. I want to be just like you when I grow up {smile}. So, so thankful for you and your beautiful heart. xo

  3. 4

    Wouldn’t it be good to be able to say it gets easier as you get older. I don’t find that to be the case — I do find we look at it differently and even perhaps better as we know more of our God. Cancer took a lot away from me. There are days when it hurts . . . to move, to breathe, to hope, to . . . I know though that God has a plan even for me at my age. Retirement is not what my husband and I hoped it would be since I had to retire due to cancer. However, we have enjoyed the retirement we have, though there are days when I, like your daughter, just tell my Father it hurts. Today was such a day and I appreciate your words of encouragement, even for me far beyond the age of a child. God bless.

    • 5

      “Wouldn’t it be good to be able to say it gets easier as you get older. I don’t find that to be the case — I do find we look at it differently and even perhaps better as we know more of our God.” Yes Becky…this I believe, too.

      Praying for you right now, Becky, that healing comes, and that He sends you a bit of His heart everyday to encourage and sustain you. Your words encourage us, sister. Thank you for the gift of them, for the gift of *you*. We love you.

  4. 6

    This is a precious post…. Thanks so much. His plans for us really are better than we can imagine…. In times of intense loss…this is super hard to trust…. but no less TRUE. Still waiting to see the “better than I can imagine” plan surrounding our loss of our foster daughter who we raised from birth till almost 2…and then were unable to adopt. Devastating. But God is FAITHFUL. He IS. So we press into the reassurance of His GOOD heart toward us and His GOOD plans for us….and worship….and wait.

    Blessings to anyone who reads this…. May you encounter His peace and be led into deep trust today in the waiting…..

    • 7

      Dana, I’m so sorry for your loss. Oh my.

      Your faith inspires, dear girl. And your beautiful prayer? I take your hand and join in the chorus of those praying His peace that leads to deep trust in the waiting.

      Thank *you* for being in this community, Dana. You are wildly loved.

  5. 8

    Kristin,
    This is beautifully written and heart-thought provoking. I was encouraged by your words, that my heartbreak could legitimately include love lost and dreams dying; and while I have known loss, I know for certain that God is always there to pick me up, dust me off, and send me back into living with His gentle love.

    I, too, am a sky-watcher. I love all types of clouds and the variety they bring. But those blue skies – especially the deep azure of autumn – bring peace and contentment to my spirit. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  6. 10
    Stephanie says:

    Thanks for this post today :) It really encouraged me. Gods sweetest blessings to you and every one on here.

  7. 12

    Thank you for your encouraging words. Sometimes I think that these hard times are God’s ways of refocusing our eyes to see Him more than we see ourselves. We are experiencing that this summer with my husband’s cancer diagnosis. In the midst of turmoil, hospitals and such, we have been richly blessed to have so much time together – which we never did before with our rushed lives. Also we have seen such growth and confirmation of our children’s walks with the Lord. He is growing each one of us so much! Praise God! Even though the days ahead are unknown and may not be the ones we would like, we are so incredibly blessed. My prayer is that others may be encouraged by watching our family lean on our Heavenly Father 100%, and as we walk the faith that we have been building over the years. I will pray for each of you, Kristen, Eileen, Becky, Dana and Colleen, as you walk your own walks.

    • 13

      Thank you, ‘Mom’, for your sweet offer of prayer. May I pray for you, too – and for your husband’s wellness? I am a cancer survivor, 3 years out now. And you are right. There are hidden blessings in this journey. My appreciation for the little things in life, what is really important, and what really matters, has changed. Slowing down is one part of that. And the joy of living each day in God’s Presence, as He would have us enjoy the blessings he sends us. Be encouraged that He walks with you every step of the way.

      • 14

        Mom, I echo Colleen’s poignant prayer words to you, and thank *you* for praying for all us girls. The way we Jesus girls circle around, love each other and pray for each other…I never get over it. What a blessing you both are to this community! Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are the best kind of gifts!

  8. 15

    What a timely tale – first I’ll be praying for sweet Faith as she continues to keep her eyes on God & the fact that He has NOT forgotten her. What a story, and a brave wise daughter you have! Again this IS timely because I too feel like dreams have been crushed with no sign of them reforming. What The Lord told me JUST THIS MORNING before cracking open your story was to keep my eyes on the tasks He’s given me t-o-d-a-y. LITERALLY make a list of the blessings He wants me to be and do today – and look NO further forward or back. He reminded me of Lot’s wife…Ouch. But if I just go where He leads – today, and not look back, TRUST my EVERYTHING in His hands, He will supply my tomorrow. It’s never as easy as it sounds ;P

    • 16

      Christy, I love the good word the Lord handed you today ~ I needed to hear it. Counting my blessings from today with you, and counting YOU as one of those blessings…

  9. 17

    There are things in my past that I still don’t understand why they happened, where they fit in the bigger picture of my life. But what brings me comfort is that there IS a bigger picture, a much bigger one that only God can see. And He can take all of the bad things and make them fit into the picture. And someday, we’ll get to look at the picture and we’ll say “Oooooh…I get it now!” Sometimes in life we get glimpses of the picture. But I think that in Heaven, we’ll get to see the whole thing. And it will make us fall even more in love with God.

    That’s what keeps my hope alive.

    • 18

      Ah yes…what we see in part now we shall in heaven know fully. Your words paint a picture that brings this to life. Thank you, Melissa! Holding onto Hope alongside you, sister.

  10. 19

    This post reminds me of when I read about Mother Teresa. Apparently, she felt a darkness with her all the time. Some say it was because she felt so close to Christ, she could not stand being separated from Him and longed for what was to come.

    I agree with Eileen that our thoughts on pain and difficulty “change as we mature in our understanding of God and the bigger picture in life and eternity.”

    Thank you for this post.

  11. 21

    Awwww, my heart aches for your baby. Sometimes today – and what we CAN’T do, despite our gratitude for what we CAN – just plain hurts. I love what you’ve shared, though – especially that his purposes “are so beyond.” Yes. THAT is worth holding onto! Thank you for this beautiful reminder, my friend! You are truth on my screen and in my heart today.

    • 22

      Mary darling, thank you for loving on my baby girl and for ministering to my heart the way you do. You. Are. The. Best.

      I love you madly!

  12. 23

    Wow, thanks for writing this Kristen! I don’t have the words right now to express how I feel but I know how hard this is for your daughter because I’ve been through something similar and ya know, right now is the first time I’ve ever realized that another child is/had experienced/is experiencing this too.
    When I was 12 i became extremely sick and have struggling ever since for the past 14 years, at times I have been bed bound. I loved to play sports, especially soccer as well as play musical instruments but that was all taken away and I had to watch every one else grow up and live a normal life when I could barely walk a few feet without fainting.
    In my mind I know that when God closes a door He opens a window, its very hard to live and after all these years I’m still learning how. Thank you and best wishes to your daughter <3

  13. 24

    “His no today is for a better yes tomorrow”, I suffer from a chronic illness and it has stopped me from doing anything physical and even any kind of social life , church life. I can understand your daughter wishing she could do what she used to. I do to but I cannot. I think it is important to be able to acknowledge that it hurts and it is hard but also to trust in father God that there will be better tomorrows as you say. My hope is in the healing that God offers and my faith that God loves me and is a good God. I have to be honest though and say I fail some days to see the hope especially when I cannot join in fun activities with others or just walking around is hard to accomplish. I can empathise with the hurt your daughter feels and the wishing to do what once was possible. I have had to change my perspective and in time I pray your daughter finds another passion that helps heal the disappointment and frustration, hurt from not being able to be active at gymnastics anymore. Thank you for sharing.

  14. 25

    Thank you for this post. Today would have been my husbands birthday. He went to be with the Lord last Sept. 30. Today is his birthday and our wedding anniversary will be on the 27th before coming to the first anniversary of his passing on the 30th. I KNOW he is with Jesus and that makes my grief tolerable. I know too that Good is good all of the time. My favorite verse is Romans 8:28. But sometimes our hearts need reminding.

    Thank you so much the reminder that “something better is coming,” even if we can’t see it today.

  15. 26

    Kristen,

    Thank you so much for your words today. My past is full of difficult days, hard days, tear and pain filled days and at the age of 41 when I look back at all of those memories and the ugly and mess of my life I can only rejoice. Rejoice in the mercies and joy that God has so abundantly bestowed upon me – It is “way past my way past.” I have lived outside of God’s plan before, lived outside what He has in store for me because I was certain that through my own strength I could uncover the joy and the thanksgiving my soul was craving. The coaxing and gentle nudging of His Holy Spirit I rest easy again under His wing and wait, just wait for Him to abundantly fill my life.

  16. 27
    Brooke Burger says:

    My son, Joshua, has clung to Jer. 29:11 as he has persevered through life somtimes. He is now 24 and about to finish up his AA degree at the community college. He was born with hydrocephalus and then had meningitis when he was 16 months old. After that he had a seizure disorder that often disrupted his life. Joshua loves sports but wasn’t allowed to pray his favorite, football, because of his shunt. He almost died a couple of months before his 15th birthday, but God saved him yet again. God’s hand has been so evident throughout his life, Over and over again people have told him and us that God has something special for him to do. Jer. 29:11. We wait expectantly.

  17. 28

    What a story. My heart goes out to you, and at the same time, what a beautiful work you are allowing your heart to undertake alongside your daughter. I too have a daughter who loves gymnastics. She was side-lined in her season 2 meets into it last year. She suffered a fractured patella and spend four weeks in a cast, two in a brace, and six weeks of therapy. The girl never missed a practiced (conditioning) and never missed a meet to support her team. She’s back in action now, the Lord has asked her to repeat her level and take a leadership role this year. I’ll never forget the road we traveled together as we sought the Lord’s will through it all. He does have a plan. And it’s a plan to prosper us, not to harm us. As Mommas, it sure does pull on our heart-strings. Just like you, I’m so proud of my girl.

  18. 29
    Marinalva Sickler says:

    I really don’t know what the difficult of these days means to me. Right now, my deceased husband’s family is together on their annual family trip, and I’m not. Tears and sadness were my company. Tomorrow at my household, a new day will come up. I don’t know what the future holds for me, except the problems of today without a car lost in a car accident. I’ll go perhaps by bus to substitute jobs that used to take 20 to 40 minutes journey, now one to two hours. Days to share with a grandson to raise and the waiting for God’s mercy and comfort.

    Your message gave me hope that there is One who cares and watches of me even in my darkest hours.

    • 30
      Beth Williams says:

      Marinalva,

      Praying for peace for you as you grieve your husband’s death. May God surround you with His infinite love, grace & mercy!

      May you find comfort in the knowing that God sees your troubles and will find a way–a way that amazes you–to end some of those troubles & trials!

      He who brought you to this point will see you through this! There is nothing too hard for God to handle!

      God Bless you–Praying for better days!

  19. 31
    Beth Williams says:

    I know a little about waiting and wanting. I was a “late bloomer”. It was later in life that I wanted marriage. It took complete dependence on God to show me the right man –the one He had picked out for me.

    Same goes for my career. Studied Medical Assisting and was doing a little of it at my clinic, but not enough to satisfy me. Took Coding course and passed exam, but couldn’t find a job-then with EMRs at work was scanning and doing a little clinical stuff. I was miserable and thought I had wasted some time in school,
    Everyone around me was feeling my misery. Lots of prayers and some patience, very hard for me. Led to a change in job titles at work. No more jus clinical assistant-now I’m Patient Care Specialist. I get to do patient care and learn a few things and actually love my job and am thankful to Christ for all he’s done for me!

  20. 32
    Curly Kathy says:

    Ah, I hope your daughter might find some hope in this suggestion, synchronized swimming! It’s like underwater gentle gymnastics. I have a friend whose daughter does it due to being partially sighted, she loves it and now has a new hobby, they still enter competitions etc, I hope this will be a possibility for your precious one too, :-)

  21. 33

    I loved this encouragement from the hand of God today, Kristen. I suffer from a horrible past that was not of my choosing. Remembering it has become very incapacitating even though I know God is now and will continue to redeem what the locust has eaten. On July 10th we had to put our beloved ‘hairy kid’ Hayli to sleep and less than 24 hours later learned that my therapist of 5 years, who has faithfully walked this dark journey with me, was closing her practice here and moving out west. In less than 24 hours I lost my 2 biggest comforts. To me they were ‘God with skin on’.
    I know that God has something greater for me in store, because I have to just learn to lean on Him and nothing else. That lesson is still a painful one.
    I can SOOO empathize with your daughter. I am a pastor and can’t be in active ministry right now due to my disability. But I praise Him for the gift of suffering because it causes me to draw closer to Him and teaches me things that I would otherwise never learn due to my own agenda.
    God bless your daughters tender heart as well as your incredible ministry.

  22. 34

    What words of encouragement! Thank you!

  23. 35
    Megan O'Neill says:

    I love that little girl so much!! It stings that her heart hurts so. Someday far down the road (probably when she’s staring at her own little bundle of joy) she will understand how much this has hurt you, and that amazing daddy of hers too. Faith is my hero and she is the “it” for her little cousin:) Love, love, love her and all the strength that she may not recognize she holds!!

  24. 36

    My daughter posted your column on her Facebook page. Having gone to your column and read it, and the posts below it, I thought it was sad that no guys had posted. I certainly can identify with your expression, “Because there ain’t nothin’ fun about dreams dying or loves leaving.” Frankly, it seems applicable to most of my life. Right now there are some wonderful things in my life, maybe more and better than I’ve ever had before. But I know even now that, by their nature, the best things of my life in this life could end at any time. My only hope, in eternity or right now, today, are in Jesus’ hands. His dreams for me will never die, His love for me will never leave. That’s really all I have. That’s enough and more for me. Hurting hurts. Don’t I know! Never mind. Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. However much it hurts, forgetting the past, I want to participate in the fellowship of his sufferings.

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