Sometimes it is hard to see beyond the difficulty of circumstances and the struggle of the immediate. Bills overwhelm, sickness lingers, responsibilities demand, and problems mount. We acknowledge with the psalmist,
"Thou hast made Thy people experience hardship; Thou hast given us wine to drink that makes us stagger." Psalm 60:3
And yet these trials test our faith and produce endurance. God wants to make us, not break us.
This week I've had to preach to myself. Jason separated his shoulder Monday evening, our sump-pump broke causing a flood in our utility room, I've been battling a cold for the fifth week, and I got sick Saturday. After struggling with my inadequacies in parenting throughout the week and coming up discouraged, I was rebuked at a family gathering on Sunday by a family member who has never spoken any words of affirmation into my parenting.
My trials, in the light of many others, are small. And yet, by Sunday evening I was digging in scripture for encouragement. I found a reminder of the fruit that can grow from these hard times in James.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1: 2-4 NASV
I am so glad we have a Heavenly Father that knows us, in our strengths and weaknesses, and loves us anyway. We can cry out to Him and He hears us. Our trials don't always end, we still struggle, but our Father wants to bring good out of our difficulties. We rejoice because He is our strength, a place of refuge, and an ever-present help in trouble. We rejoice because he's less concerned about our happiness, how comfortable we are, but more concerned about our character. He takes the coal that is us and makes us into a sparkling diamond that can be used for His glory. His refining is painful and difficult at times but his love is governing the fiery blasts. Nothing that happens to us has not first been sifted through His loving hands.
I go to the psalms when I'm depleted and weary. I find encouragement there and strength.
Hear my cry, O God; Give heed to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to Thee, when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For Thou hast been a refuge for me,...Let me take refuge in the shelter of Thy wings. Psalm 61: 1-4