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It had only been four weeks since a woman ran a red light and hit me going 50 mph, but here I was again awaking in the dark, early morning hours from yet another nightmare about having a car accident.  

To make matters worse, a quick glance at my phone rendered a text from a caring friend whose words demanded I act like the woman of faith she had come to know.  I had not seen her since the accident, as my life quickly became limited to sleep, doctors visits, eating, and fighting three insurance agencies to be sure I was not be taken advantage of, all in the middle of a bad concussion that caused unfathomable migraines, blurry vision, dizziness, and emotional breakdowns.  Oh, and did I mention the whiplash that had me in physical therapy 3 days a week on my neck, shoulder, and rib cage.  Life had become a fog of fighting, except my sword was more like a wet noodle.  

I realized that this accident was the last straw to my emotional limits.  Less than four months ago, only by the grace of God, I escaped an abusive relationship.  Within the five months prior to that, I had lost an uncle, my father, and my last living grandparent.  The ever-present reminder that a monumental birthday was arriving quickly and the lack of certain dreams coming true in my life only added to the stress.  No wonder I’m having nightmares and needed time away.  

Usually, I would feel guilty for stepping away from working in the church, not hanging out with my friends or returning their texts, but this morning was different.  I reacted as Jesus did in Luke when he walked away from everything and everyone except God for 40 days. It’s not that he didn’t love his disciples or have compassion for the people.  He just needed to get away to rest and refresh for the mission ahead.   

With that revelation, I chose not to respond to this friend.  Instead, I picked up the bible and began to read in Job chapter 1, verses 20 through 22.  In verses just before these, Job was informed that all his possessions had been destroyed and his children found dead.

His first response, “Job fell to the ground and worshipped, saying, ‘Praise the name of Yahweh.’ Throughout all this Job did not sin or blame God for anything.”

I hadn't even begun to lose in this last year what Job lost in a matter of minutes, yet my struggles, pain, and suffering seem so real. I know if they are real to me, then they are real to my God.  

As I think upon the text from my friend explaining that she just had a car accident and her bumper was messed up and it was so “painful" to go through the insurance claims process, it felt like she was saying, “I know exactly what you are going through and I’m okay.  So get over it and move on!”  My first response is to say... a dented bumper doesn’t compare to a totaled car, concussion, and whiplash. Instead of saying how I felt, I didn't say anything at all.  

I went to God. 

Not on the floor weeping, tearing my clothes, covering myself in ashes like Job.  

Not in anger or frustration.  That came much later. 

But in wonder. 

Wondering why I’ve faced the trials and tribulations of these past two and a half years….the abuse, the deaths, the car accident.  All things that were done to me, not as a part of my choice.  What have I done wrong?  Where did I ver off the path God paved for me?  Why so much darkness?  

Preserving through your pain, sorrow, and suffering is going to produce life.  Though times seem dark now, your ashes are becoming beautiful.

My gaze turned from heaven to the beautiful white orchid sitting on the table beside my chair with pinkish-red centers on 10 stunning flowers and three buds. As I continued to gaze at the plant I heard the Lord say, “Khristina, this orchid is not too different than you. When you look at the plant, you focus on the two buds that are green and the one bulb that is yellow and looks to be sick.  You have forgotten to notice the other ten beautiful, fully budded flowers….white as snow with pretty pinkish-red centers. The reason you purchased this flower is that you so enjoy the beauty of the ten flowers, not in anticipation of seeing the two buds bloom.   This is exactly as others see you… a beautiful woman of God who has walked through life giving of herself to others.  Seeking me and growing in your trials to produce beauty from ashes.”  

Then, I noticed the stem that held all the flowers together was black, but the stems leading to each flower were white. The Lord continued, “This orchid is also how I see you. Beautiful, vibrant, sins white as snow with a hint of a precious loving heart.  When you began your life there was nothing but a dark stem, then by submitting your life to me, I took the dark stem and led you to places of growth that produced beauty from ashes.”  

At that moment, what I would consider a miracle, I began to see one of the buds slowly open and a petal began to separate from the bud. It was a surreal moment watching this bud turn into a beautiful flower.

Then I heard God say, “Preserving through your pain, sorrow, and suffering is going to produce life. Though times seem dark now, your ashes are becoming beautiful.”  

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