I have been wrestling with being away from my family and friends. I have been feeling out of sorts, as I watch and listen from a far to the struggles those I love are enduring. It seems as if my prayers are just rote as my heart and mind desires to jump in and assist in a physical and tangible way. However, as I sit this morning praying for them, and considering the seasons in my life and theirs, I wonder is God attempting to show us a fresh new start. Are our trials, our circumstances, even our joys that alter our current reality, not fresh new starts, gifts from God to motivate us to draw closer to Him and to trust Him more?
This is a challenge to me. I thought I would live and die in Pennsylvania. While never opposed to an adventure, I married my high school sweetheart (the Prince) and never lived more than 10 miles from either of our birth homes, and had a secure and comfortable life. People have come in and out of our lives over the years and we were always the constant steady that they could return to for a visit, for encouragement and for a sense of connection to what they had left behind. But in my prayers this morning, I began to see a trend. When God moves, (and not just geographically) and we face situations that are not what we desire, or that we are surprised by, is He saying stay where we are, this is your lot in life, or is He prompting us to open our eyes, focus on Him, and start over with a new plan, His plan.
New plans are not comfortable. For most of us they are not enjoyable, and it is a hassle, takes more energy than we want to expend, and causes us too much heartache, to get past where we currently are sitting. Stuck in a rut, on the side of the road. But more often than not, we are stuck in the rut on the side of the road, because we tried to do it our way. While I may have made overtures to bring God into my plans, catch Him up to speed on my vision as it were, have I really yielded to Him, just trusted Him to work on my behalf? My spouse has left me. My kids are leaving home. My spouse has passed away. My boss is a jerk. My spouse just lost their job. Myself or my spouse is sick. I am the caregiver for my aging parents. My finances are a wreck. I am a wreck. Hear my heart in this, I do not have the answers and this early Saturday morning musing is more for my own sanity than perhaps any of yours.
Here is the what came to mind today as I prayed for all my friends in positions of transition today, for all those that are faced with trials that seem overwhelming, with sadness, with rejection and with grief and even in joyous times that alter our current reality. God is not surprised by this. I know even as I type those words, it comes across as a bit trite. However, with 100% confidence, I can say that as a believer in Christ, nothing that comes my way is a surprise to Him, as it has first passed through His hand before ever reaching me! He has ordained it, He has allowed this situation to come to my attention. Why? Because He knows I need this challenge, this transition, this trial, this struggle, and yes even this joy, so that I can grow closer to Him, and He can continue to do His good and perfect work in me.
The following passages came to mind this morning, and if you are reading this and are in the midst of a struggle, it is my prayer that these verses with bring comfort, clarity of thought, peace and joy to you today in your journey.
"Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything." James 1:2-4
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial
because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of
life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12
It is because of Christ and His Word that I can proclaim loudly, I am glad that I don't have to make this stuff up, to find peace and joy in life.