“He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze” (2 Samuel 22:35).
In this exuberant psalm of praise and thanksgiving, David declared the mighty and powerful acts of God, who saved him from all of his enemies (verse 1).
While verse 35 is just one of the many recountings of the Lord’s faithfulness, two little words stuck out to me: “so that.” Clearly David was praising God, rightly so, for the divine ability given to him. Yet as I pondered those two little words, and what they might mean for me, I realized how important it is to change my perspective from “so what” to “so that.”
So what: the words alone make every parent cringe, whether spoken out loud by a child or spoken silently through an attitude! The words represent a disregard to what was previously said, a shrugging off, another way of saying, “It doesn’t matter… I don’t care… it is inconsequential to me.” In other words, “What you’ve said or done was a waste because it has no bearing on me.”
As 2020 comes to a close, I wonder if we are left with a “so what” kind of attitude: one that has responded to the pain, loss, disappointment, and loneliness as “what a waste.”
Many years ago I learned the valuable lesson that whether or not something was considered a waste truly depended upon the individual. My husband’s grandmother was the most resourceful woman I have ever known! She had a way to repurpose everything that passed through her hands! That which seemed to me to be empty, used, ripped, or broken was to her as good as new, ready for a new purpose. Watching her use everything/waste nothing lifestyle began to change my own as I would think, “How would Grandma Faye use this?”
I was reminded of Grandma Faye’s ability over the summer as my family planted a garden, and we began to compost for the first time. What delight it brought knowing that even the “waste” of our fruit peels or vegetable cores now had a purpose. Nothing, now, was wasted!
Isn’t that just like our God, the Master Gardener? He does not waste One. Single. Thing.
The pain we experienced this year? There is purpose in that pain.
The hurt, let downs, and disappointments? There is meaning, even in that.
The loss, the loneliness? He will surely use it.
Only He knows the “so that” of our experiences. He knows what He can produce in us through our pain. He knows what He can teach us in our hurt. He knows how He can comfort us in our losses. He knows how He can reveal Himself in our loneliness. We can be certain that when given to Him, He can take that which seems to be empty, used, ripped, or broken and use it for His divine purposes. Whatever this year has given – or perhaps taken – from you, it will not be wasted. There is purpose. “So that.”
He alone can turn the “so what’s” of the past year into a “so that.”
Will you give Him your pain, your heartache, your disappointment – the wasted things? Will you place into His hands your let downs and hurts – the empty things? He already knows them. He can “repurpose” them, just as Grandma Faye could, making them actually what He desired them to be all along.
Let us close out this unexpected and perhaps unwelcomed, yet not unprofitable, year with a simple prayer of giving everything, everything, to Him, asking Him to use it so that His story may continue to be written in our lives so that He may be glorified. May He “breathe” upon it all:
“He spreads snow like a white fleece, He scatters frost like ashes, He broadcasts hail like birdseed – who can survive His winter? Then He gives the command and it all melts; He breathes on winter – suddenly it’s spring!” – Eugene Peterson
Let us ask Him, the One who can suddenly melt the snow and ice, the One who controls the changing of the seasons, to “breathe on” our winter, our waste, our emptiness, our brokenness, our “so what’s” so that He can turn it into a divine “so that” – something of purpose and significance.
“God does not further our spiritual life in spite of our circumstances, but in and by our circumstances.” – Oswald Chambers