I was talking with my husband this past weekend while driving to a family party; reminiscing over all the challenges God has allowed us to walk through during the six years of our marriage. I never dreamed of living off of the $10 an hour my husband was making at his internship when we were first out of college. I never dreamed of my husband having an autoimmune disease and anxiety attacks. I never dreamed of having two miscarriages.
No, we never dreamed of those things.
However, as I think through the memories of our marriage, it is not the happy and joyful moments that shaped us. No, the times in my life that have been the most pivotal were the times of deep struggle and sorrow. It has been the valleys that have exposed the truth of who we are, and how much we needed the strength and power of God in our lives. I've come to realize that God has used them to bring a crazy-awesome level of intimacy and strength to our marriage and, even more importantly, an intimacy and strength in our relationship with the Lord.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. - James 1:2-4
But before you get the wrong idea that I'm some crazy, sorrow and grief-loving person, let me clarify something. Just because I can look back on those valleys with thankfulness and appreciation for what God has done, does not mean that during those time in my life it was easy. No they have been some of the most difficult places. You see, God promises that "blessed is the man who perseveres under trial" (James 1:12). If trials were just a stroll in the park, they wouldn't be trials. Trials require perseverance, and perseverance is NEVER easy. Perseverance is continuing to press on when everything inside of you says to quit, to give up and to surrender.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. - 2 Corinthians 4:7-9
I think God has a sense of humor, because not 12 hours after having this conversation in the car with my husband, I found myself in the emergency room with sever abdominal pain and the possibility of appendicitis. All of a sudden I wasn't doing the easy task of reminiscing about our past struggles, but found myself at the doorstep of living through another one. How was I handling it? Like a pro who God has brought through struggle after struggle? Nope. I was bummed out, whimpering and worrying.
Then I remembered our conversation from earlier that day. And as I sat there in the emergency room with just a TV for company, I knew what I was going to blog about for today. You see in those moments of struggle we need to make our decisions and choose our attitude, not based on how we feel, but on the promises we know are true in the Bible. Too often we whine and moan, and look for "understanding" from our husbands or friends. Too rarely we take our thoughts to God and leave our bad attitudes at his alter. Too rarely we trust that he meant what he said when he said in Romans 8:28 that in ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love him.
What struggle or valley are you going through right now? How have you been handling it?
What promise does God give you in the Bible that you can hold on to when you feel like giving up.
P.S. - God is good and I came home from the ER last night after all the results came back inconclusive. I've still got my appendix.