Did you know that life isn't always sunshine and roses? I know. Crazy. Who knew? I know my life is certainly perfect and going exactly according to plan, but apparently that isn't always the case. If perchance you find yourself in the same boat, stay tuned.
I have a friend, N, going through a really tough time right now. The worst. The kind of situation you hear about and gasp and squint your eyes and say please God, not me, don't let that ever be me...and then it happens to a friend and it's just as awful as you'd imagined. And that's saying something, coming from a girl as immersed in the world of IF as I am. But anyway. The strange thing is that in the midst of a truly sucky situation, N has actually experienced a lot of growth. She's discouraged but not despairing. She's finding life in the midst of a painful situation. And it's really a beautiful thing.
I asked her to share some of her story and what she's been learning. I know that so many of us can relate to life not going according to plan-- I hope that you will be as encouraged by N's words as I am, and that when you're finding yourself buried beneath the fear again, you'll find the strength to cling to hope and God once more.
This quote has been a real and tangible truth for me of late. My heart has been broken, I have been abandoned, and seemingly out of options. But then...THEN GOD. A friend shared this quote with me as well:
"Perhaps worship is never more sweeter and worship is never more heart-felt and worship is never more honest and true than in times of trial. Because in that moment I'm not worshiping God because I think he has delivered what would make me happy. I'm worshiping God because He is God. And that is worship!" - Paul David Tripp
When I had nothing left and I chose to cry out to the Lord as my rock, my strength, my rescuer, my healer, I found all I needed and then some. Regardless of what storm is raging around me, God is all I need.
Why is it that the most profound truths are learned while the storm rages? Why must pain be part of my growth? I keep returning to Scripture with statements like "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." - 2 Cor. 9. My marriage is teetering on a precipice. All I would need to do to lose it is give up hope and give up faith in the Lord's goodness and faithfulness. I am stronger than I knew and I am not about to let the enemy win this war. I have been catapulted into trusting Him more than I ever had to in the past. When I finally surrendered to His will, asked for His glory to come in this, and His good for us, I found immeasurable peace and joy that can only come from Him cocooning me with His love. Faith and trust in the Lord brought freedom when I succumbed to His gentle coaxing. He asks me to hold on loosely. When I try and trust Him with clenched fists, unwilling to let Him have whatever it is I hold most dear, I do not see all the goodness He has for me. But when I release my fingers, one by one, or when I step out off the ledge I thought kept me so safe, I am comforted by the sweet arms of Jesus that catch me softly. What I didn't fully realize is that I was sitting in the safety net of the Lord's hand WHILE I had been unwilling to let Him have everything. I have been my own hindrance to experiencing the full joy of resting in the Lord.
Fear is a powerful beast. It rages within my soul at its core. The enemy knows how to push my buttons and activate my fear. But over and over the Lord tells me to not to fear. The enemy rules by fear and I am sick of it.
- "So do not fear, for I
am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen
you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." - Is.
Having peace in the midst of a storm makes no sense, but it has been my experience. It really is a peace that passes understanding."Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:4-5
When at the end of the days that stretch in to weeks and weeks into months, I have Jesus, then I count myself blessed beyond measure. My external circumstances do not define me unless I let them. I choose to put my hope in Jesus and the work I know He is doing in me and my life. He is not absent - far from it - I see that He is closer to me, but always has been had I taken time to notice. I see His work in the minute details. I have seen His blessings pop up throughout this trial. Seeing these rays of light give me renewed hope and strength for the bigger work I know He is doing."The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint". - Is. 40:28-31
God is faithful. He is mighty to save. He is merciful and full of grace. Period. He is pruning me and I feel so alive. Refining is painful, but it is worth the pain. I can choose to be angry and shake my fist at the Lord, or I can collapse into His everlasting arms that shelter from the storm while giving me strength to keep on fighting; all the while opening my hands more and more to let Him hold what I was holding so close as well as receive His blessings. Rainbows only appear after a storm, a symbol of God's promise. He does not allow storms in our lives to happen without having a promise behind them. He is molding me into His likeness. He is teaching me to trust him and walk by faith even when I cannot see the next step in front of me. He has a grip on both of us and this whole situation and He is not letting us go. So I actively wait on Him. I pursue Him, serve others, and let Him do what He pleases in and through me, so that I may reflect His light to all around me."And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." - Romans 12:12