I lived with a single mother diagnosed with severe mental illness. When I went into the foster care system, I believed I’d find my forever family that would heal the hole in my heart. But hope was squashed when I aged out of the foster care system alone. I was taken in, as an adult, by a loving family, but I still felt a deep gash in my left atrium. I married a sweet man and birthed my precious son. My greatest joys with my family couldn’t replace the loss of the family that was supposed to raise me healthily.

Whatever it was I hoped and prayed for — it never came.

The pastor said it’d just be a season, but it’s been years. The influencers on Instagram share their stories of trials and triumphs, but you can barely taste hope. People tell you to pray and it’ll be given, but you’ve yet to receive. 

You can’t tell if this is suffering or if you’re suffocating. You’re just waiting for your time of freedom to come, so you can proclaim God’s goodness. 

But the time still hasn’t come. And what if the time doesn’t come? Is God still good?

Oh, He is so good. 

You know that quote that says God doesn’t give us more than we can handle? It’s a lie that speaks into false strength. God definitely allows overwhelming heaps of adversity, more than we can handle, so we can exemplify faithfulness and fully rely upon His strength to deepen our relationship with Him. If God didn’t give us more than we could handle, how would He get His glory? 

During this time of suffering in my life, God taught me three foundational truths that first brought me to accept Christ into my life. 

Three joys suffering can bring us:

1. We are reflections of God, made in His image, and we are to live life like Jesus.

Because we live this life in an imperfect world, filled with sin, there will be suffering. So we suffer as Christ did and bring God, our Father, glory. In Romans 5:3-4, we read, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” It is in the act of persevering through suffering with the hope that God gifts us that our character is refined to reflect God’s.

2. God is my Abba. He is my Father.

I don’t have a rich and deep history with my parents; so I experience the privilege of being fully dependent on Him. His love is deep and wide, and when I’m coming to Him in relationship, because I can’t go to my birth family, I experience more of His love. I don’t have perfect earthly parents, but I have a perfect Heavenly Abba. His love is Fire. He is a Mad Man for his children.

3. God brings us closer to Him in times of adversity. 

In the book of Job, we see the enemy question Job’s faithfulness. God proves His power when He takes everything away from Job. It is in Job’s most lacking times that God receives the most glory, defeats the enemy and brings Job even closer in relationship with Him. 

God challenges our faith, like He does Job’s, to grow the Kingdom, glorify Himself and tell the enemy, “These are my people. Not yours. These children belong to me!” In scripture, we see the power of God through Job prove Satan wrong when Job says, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job praises the Lord for what he has lost as a “blameless and upright” man.  When the world told him he had no reason to shout God’s praise, he kept praising.   

He praised God for the never-had and never-will-have and the never-again.

God is not going to give me a family to fully redeem the story of the family I didn’t have growing up because my story is already redeemed. He brought me out of despair when He died on the cross for me. It’s already done. 

I thank God for the story He has given me because it’s not for my glory and my goodness. It’s for His. We thank God for the lack of ourselves, to be brought closer to our Abba, to find ourselves looking more like reflections of His son. We praise Him when the season isn’t just a season. We shout His goodness even when we don’t receive. We’ve been adopted as His child and inherit His gifts, and we rejoice that sometimes the gift is suffering. 

Tori Petersen
Tori Petersen

Tori Petersen is a wife, mom and former foster youth hoping to make her Abba known and loved through stories, speaking and writing. She is an advocate for the preservation of the family, foster care and adoption while communicating the Gospel. Follow her on Instagram @torihopepetersen.

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