Loving God’s Abundant Life held their first of many annual women’s retreats on location at City of Refuge (COR). COR is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to community development efforts that lead to sustainable living for the 30314 zip code where there are overwhelming economic challenges and a lack of social, medical and psychological support. Summit’s Edge has partnered with COR in early 2015, in an effort to improve the mental wellness of their staff. Summit’s Edge and COR have an equal interest in serving the members of the Atlanta community who are living on the margins. Summit’s Edge has a vested interest in the helpless and the hurting. On this very special occasion, COR partnered with a local church, North River to present a Women’s retreat for the City of Refuge staff and residents.
Summit’s Edge Counseling Owner & Managing Therapist, Daron Elam, was invited to be a guest speaker to the ladies of North River Church and City of Refuge Residents at The Women’s Retreat: Loving God’s Abundant Life.
Daron’s speech was titled, “Why Bad Things Happen: The Key to Abiding.” She beautifully conveyed the opportunity to display God through our trials and tribulations. The resident women, COR staff and NRC members were all moved by the powerful testimony of faith in the midst of loss.
You can review the transcript of the speech below (20 minutes):
“Good Morning! How about this event? Can we just take a second to put our hands together for this amazing day and all that we have heard today? Wow!
I just want to say a quick thank you to North River and City of Refuge for having me! I am so honored to be here with all of you beautiful people today. I am truly humbled by the invitation to have community with so many daughters of the King.
If you don’t know who I am, I am the very lucky wife of Brett Elam. I am the daughter of Jaynie and Alex Dominguez, the big sister to Chase Dominguez, and like many/most of you, I too, am a daughter of the King. So, all you need to know is that I’m family and you can trust me.
Trust is a funny thing. I’ve never really been much for it. I have always wanted to be trusting, but it just never happened for me. Because of what I do for a living, people trust me with their stories, with their testimonies. And I’m always so humbled by the notion of trust—I consider it a sacred thing. Doing what I do puts me in front of some pretty powerful testimonies. Each day, I sit before another story. Another miracle. Some of the stories I hear, break my heart. I hear devastation, despair, and despondence. But my favorite part of what I do is what I witness: Something so beautiful happens to people when their world has fallen apart. Humility, hope, nobility, trust, faith, love…they all emerge at once…just at the moment that their knees hit the floor. And the questions come…
“Why did this happen?”
“Why am I even here?”
“Why am I going through this?”
And the one I hear the most…
“Why did God let these (bad) things happen to me?”
These questions used to be the worst part of my job. I used to cringe internally when they were asked. See, as a therapist, you don’t give advice and contrary to the common belief, you do not have all the answers. Thank God, I don’t have to.
But here’s what scripture says about it:
“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
And James 1:2-3 which says:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
And John 9:1-41 says:
“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Our suffering is purposed by the display of God’s work. Bad things happen to us not because of what we have or have not done but in order to display God. How else would God get people to look? We are SO human! When things go well, we may be grateful. We may be “blessed” but do we CLEAVE to Him? Do we ache for Him? Do we truly turn our eyes up? NO!
Yet this gets us SO hung up! I hear people talking about God in a presumable first person, “If I was God, I would never…” “If I was God, I couldn’t allow…” “If I was God….how could God…why did God?”
Well, thank goodness you are NOT God. Or we would all be doomed for eternal damnation.
Because you could NEVER do what God had to. You are absolutely right. You could NEVER. You would never. God gave His ONLY son. His only Son. That you might. Not that you would. Not with guaranteed delivery. That you might believe.
So…you’re absolutely right. You could never. You could never allow the necessary pain and suffering and inexplicable torture that He has to allow for His own for the greatness of His Kingdom…..
Whether you’re in a moment or a lifetime of pain, don’t miss it. Don’t miss the opportunity to display Him. To encounter Him. To be part of the story of God. He doesn’t need you to do it. He allows you to be part of it. So embrace pain. Embrace trials. Embrace loss. God will bring you out of the storm. Sometimes, it ends up different but it’s a better story. Embrace the story God gave you.
If you are sitting here today and you have been pushing your story away….maybe you’re ashamed to embrace it because it isn’t pretty. In fact, it’s raw and ugly and perhaps a little messed up. I urge you: Take back your story. Take back your testimony. After all, how else will God get people to look at Him?”
For more information about the City of Refuge, please visit cityofrefugeatl.org.