[See part 1 to this post: Custom Discipleship.]
Have you ever wondered why you ended up in the family you were given? Have you ever questioned God’s wisdom—or His kindness—in allowing you to go through some of the events of your past? Have you ever felt stuck, like your difficult childhood has doomed you to a difficult adulthood? Perhaps you grew up with an absent father or an angry mother. Maybe you suffered abuse or major health issues or the death of someone close to you. Or maybe life was hard and there was never enough income, and you had to do without many of the things your friends enjoyed.
I believe God custom-designs a process of discipleship for each one of His children. His intent is to form our hearts more and more into the likeness of Christ, and He does that by creating a set of circumstances and relationships that uniquely and precisely fits each individual, to help us grow toward maturity and fruitfulness. Your family history (and mine) is not a mistake. It is not a failure of God’s grace. It does not mean that God was powerless to prevent the negative things that have happened to you, nor does it mean that He was angry or vindictive toward you by allowing those things to happen. No, as contradictory as it may seem, God designed your unique family history for a specific purpose—to grow you toward maturity and fruitfulness in Christ.
I have talked with some people who are convinced that their terrible family history has locked them into a miserable life in the present…and, not surprisingly, their lives are rather miserable. They are not growing toward maturity in Christ; instead, they are constantly bemoaning the past.
I have talked with others, whose family history has been just as terrible, and while they admit that the sins committed against them (or the difficult circumstances they faced) in the past have scarred them deeply, they are learning to see how God used those painful experiences to draw their hearts to Him. And others are moving a step further and starting to look for ways that God might use them to minister to others who have faced similar trauma in their growing up years.
A friend of mine from college endured horrific sexual and physical abuse at the hands of her father when she was very young. Understandably, there has been much pain and difficulty in dealing with that past, but God has poured His abundant mercy upon her, and she is now thriving as a wife and mother, serving God on the mission field in Asia. But what is most beautiful about her story is that God has taken her traumatic family history and transformed it into an amazing ministry. She and her husband now run a home for young girls who have been rescued out of the sex trafficking industry, and because of her traumatic family history, she can minister very effectively to those whom God brings to their home. (If you’d like to read her story, look up Deep Waters, by Jasmine May.)
God has a purpose for the history that He has brought you through. He did not abandon you in your darkest hour, but He carried you and loved you, and there is a unique and beautiful story that He is weaving through your life. May He grant you the grace to see His good design, even in the difficult—or traumatic—family history that you have experienced.