I have something for you.

An arena of 20,000, completely silent. Each individual fighting for control of their thoughts to journey to the mountain-top, into the presence of God.

Eyes closed, hearts moving.

Sitting in my little seat in section 115, I began to visualize myself, struggling to carry up the mountain everything that was currently weighing me down. I reached the top, feeling defeated.

It was January 3, two days before spring semester began. Here I was, attending Passion Conference, dreading returning to school.

God, don’t you see? What am I going to do? Who are my people going to be? What do I have to go back to? Do you see me? Me and my loneliness? What should I be doing differently?

As I unloaded on Him, I heard Him speak to me.

“I have something for you.”

For some, that promise may seem meaningless. But for me, it brought such peace.

I have something for you. It’s not about what you do, but what I do, what I have to give to you.

Recognize this loneliness as a gift. A gift to dive into me; to find the quiet and solitude. Start meditating on me, devoting your thoughts to me, loving me more, before all of your actions.

I returned to that promise again and again over the past few months, asking God, “When will I see this something? What is the something? Friends? Peace? A ministry I connect with?”

It wasn’t until today that I got it. On the hour and 15 minute car drive back to Atlanta, listening to a Ben Stuart podcast, it clicked.

The topic was joy in pain – James 1.

My brothers and sisters, you will face all kinds of trouble. When you do, think of it as pure joy. Your faith will be tested. You know that when this happens it will produce in you the strength to continue. And you must allow this strength to finish its work. Then you will be all you should be. You will have everything you need. If any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. He will give it to you. God gives freely to everyone and doesn’t find fault.
— James 1:2-6, NIV

Stuart said that often we want to find the meaning of our pain – why am I going through this particular suffering in my life?

But here’s the thing – God’s desire for your pain is not that you find meaning, but that you ultimately find God – in a new way or for the first time.

“God says, ‘I’m not going to give you a reason to cling to, but I’m going to give you me.’”

That something? I clung to it, fretted over whether or not it was actually nothing. In a way, I demanded to see it from God – He promised it to me, didn’t he? I understood that the pain was a gift to help me pursue God more, but I still wanted the tangible something.

But today, all of a sudden, my eyes were opened – the something was God.

While I’m still working through all the pain, emotions, struggles of the past 9 months, through it all I’ve gotten to know God better and in a unique and different way. 

            I got God in my pain. And that, that brings me joy.

The weaker I was, the harder I leaned on you. And the harder I leaned on you, the stronger I discovered you to be. Thank you for the bruising blessing – it was a severe mercy.
— Joni Eareckson