Nothing wasted with God

Published 9:37 pm Thursday, January 24, 2019

By Tonya S. Swindell

I’m glad to know God doesn’t waste anything. Even painful experiences carry value. And as I learn from different situations, I develop compassion to comfort others.

My father’s death was unexpected and emotional. Since his passing in 2012, I cherished memories and developed deeper appreciation for ongoing relationships. Although it may be difficult to see how good could come from such a sad occasion, I’m fortunate to know painful experiences possess value in God’s eyes.

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In the book of Ruth, Naomi became bitter after her two sons died. Although her daughter-in-law, Ruth, refused to leave, Naomi acknowledged the sting of losing children and the physical, social and financial protection they provided. But Ruth’s dedication paid off after marrying Boaz, Naomi’s relative.

As kinsman redeemer, Boaz acted on Naomi’s and Ruth’s behalf. Eventually the couple had a son named Obed, who was the father of Jesse and grandfather of King David, all of whom are in the lineage of Jesus Christ. Although Ruth and Naomi experienced grief, their emotions and actions weren’t wasted. The women comforted one another. And their experiences worked together for good.

Recently I met Dr. Brenda Etheridge, a local author and pastor who also experienced the loss of a son. She is co-pastor of Lion of Judah Ministries International with her husband, Pastor Nemmo Etheridge, and author of “Jesus, Bucky and Me.” I discovered her book at the Goodwill store in North Suffolk. As I pulled back its cover, my eyes widened upon seeing the following words written by Dr. Etheridge to the book’s previous owner: “To: Tonya. I thank God for your hunger for God! He is going to fill you to overflowing. He wants to use you mightily!”

Perhaps due to shock, I left the book in the store but returned to purchase it. While there I met and prayed with Terri Hensler, a gifted interior designer. Later I asked my sister-in-law, Robin, to contact Dr. Etheridge on Facebook. She called me on the 18th anniversary of the day her son, Breean, or “Bucky,” was murdered. The next day I attended her church at which time pastors “commanded the blessing” on everyone present.

Compassion goes a long way. The King James version of 2 Corinthians 1:4 mentions how God “…comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble…” The same verse is translated like this from The Message Bible: “…He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”

God delivered comfort to us and through us. Just as disciples gathered leftovers after feeding thousands with two fish and five loaves of bread; God used our “broken pieces” to deliver nourishment and healing. By surrendering painful situations to God, every experience can be valued.

Tonya Swindell writes a blog for and is a teacher for Kingdom Building Equipping School ( She can be reached at