God Doesn’t Waste Our Pain

“My spiritual and emotional recovery hinged on two questions: Was Jesus enough, and was I willing to trust Him with my dreams, my life, and my health?”

“I can’t remember being moved by someone’s story more than Dee Elliott’s video testimony last Easter,” said Hannah Beckwith. “He talked about trusting God and finding joy as he battled ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease (Dee passed away earlier this year). I was in the middle of a season of suffering, so what he said was meaningful. I prayed, through tears, that God would also use my story to help others know of His love.

“I’ve been at Watermark since day one. God used this church, and particularly Student Ministries, to draw me into a relationship with Him and protect me from walking in the ways of the world. That has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. Going to college at University of Texas was a really sweet time in my walk with Christ. I had grown up in a bit of a Christian bubble and did not have many non-Christian friends. In Austin, I was confronted with hundreds of people who did not know Jesus. God graciously allowed me to take part in Cru, a campus ministry, while I was there.

“In the spring of my junior year, I was confronted with suffering for the first time. Within eight months, two acquaintances passed away and another friend was raped. Filled with doubt about God’s goodness, I hit many spiritual walls. God used community with other believers and the opportunity to work at International Justice Mission (IJM) to change my perspective. IJM works to free people around the world who are trapped in modern-day slavery. As I saw first-hand the evil and brokenness in this world, I was forced to ask if God really cared about the enslaved and suffering. I turned to the Bible and learned about the purpose of suffering, God’s character, and Christ’s ministry to the poor, the outcast, and the abused. The truth I learned prepared me for the struggle that was to come.

“I had struggled with health problems before, but my body began shutting down, and I got really sick. I traveled back and forth from Austin to Dallas, seeing doctors and trying to get a diagnosis. I thought I’d be back to normal in a few weeks. But weeks turned into months, and I didn’t get better. This was the first time I had to wrestle with suffering directly in my life.

“I had a dream to move abroad with IJM after graduation. I’d even been selected to serve in Mumbai, India, but my doctors said I couldn’t live abroad. It was hard to have those plans derailed by illness. In my mind, I had made a deal with God: I’d be obedient, and He would give me the life I’d planned. I dreamed of doing something for His glory, so why would the Lord take me in a different direction? Had God hidden His face from me when I was suffering?

“God used my questions and pain to show me the condition of my heart. At the core of my struggle was self-righteousness and pride. I talked about this with my father, my stronghold and spiritual leader, and God used him to begin my journey toward healing. My spiritual and emotional recovery hinged on two questions: Was Jesus enough, and was I willing to trust Him with my dreams, my life, and my health?

“That Easter, God used Dee Elliott’s testimony to remind me that only Jesus could get me through the journey ahead. I had planned my course and I was discouraged when it didn’t go my way. Now, I was ready for God to use my pain as a platform, and I wanted to be on the journey with the Lord, wherever He took me. When I stepped away from the opportunity to move to India, I never could’ve imagined the sweet steps the Lord had planned instead.

“The Lord opened the door for me to move back to Dallas to do the Watermark Residency. It has been an incredible season of diving further into God’s Word to learn even more about His character and sovereignty. I have had time to focus on healing, spend time with my family, and allow His Word to become my lifeline. Psalm 119 has been a particular encouragement to me.

“In September, I finally received a partial diagnosis for my illness; it is an autoimmune disease that, unfortunately, I’ll deal with for the rest of my life. That was a painful reality, but I know that God doesn’t waste our pain; He uses it in amazing ways. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with other women facing chronic illness and tell them about the greatness of God, even in the face of suffering. It never feels contrite to say that God is enough, because as I have walked through this valley, God has become even more real to me.”

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