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redeeming life’s experiences

Over the years I have taught a “Discovering Your SHAPE” class at several different churches.  It’s always one of the most enjoyable classes I teach.  In it we discuss how God has created our unique SHAPE:

  • Spiritual gift
  • Heart
  • Abilities
  • Personality
  • Experiences

Of these five form factors, our experiences are the most fluid.  In other words, the others are — to some extent — fixed.  They may modify through the years but remain relatively the same.  Our experiences, however, are always happening.  Life throws us a curveball.  Jobs change.  Neighbors move.  The economy crashes.  The economy returns.  Presidents get elected.  Kids grow up and get married.  Grandkids are born.

Life happens.

And with each new experience, God is adjusting our SHAPE.  In some cases, we may have a pattern of experiences that is preparing us to serve in a particular way.  At other times, it only takes one experience to re-form our attitude and give us a new understanding.

It is often our painful experiences that God most wants to redeem and put to good use.  Death, divorce, disappointment.  The list is endless.  God does not create our painful experiences but he does allow them to happen and he will use them to give us a new perspective on life.  On the other side of the trauma, we find ourselves more empathetic and quicker to help.   We are able to walk alongside others who may be experiencing what we have survived.  Slowly but surely, we find meaning and purpose in our own painful experiences.

But it doesn’t always turn out this way.  Not everyone who has suffered a disappointment develops empathy.  Some just grow bitter.  Instead of asking, “What have I learned?” they ask “Why me?”  If they get stuck there, they will impede their own healing process and they will miss out on the blessing of helping others.

To redeem life’s experiences requires shifting the focus from our own circumstances to the larger picture.  It can be done.  In fact, it must be done — for your own good and the good of others.

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