Oh, how I wanted to fix things myself. If I stopped doing X, started doing Y, changed Z, surely I could straighten out my life, rectify things. I could make everything better. Only I couldn’t. There was NO. POSSIBLE. WAY. for me to fix my situation or circumstances except to surrender it all. As my brother Wayne says when he needs you to understand the seriousness of what he’s saying, “You hear me????” When I say surrender, I don’t mean give it away as if I’m not responsible for anything. I mean surrender the parts of my life where I have no choice but to let HIM fix it.
I can’t tell you how many devotionals/guides I came across that led me into scripture that talked about praising God through your trials. If you know the story of Job, you know the line, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” (he later reverses this when he realized God didn’t leave him at all) and it felt like that. I thought, “Where are you Lord? Why are you so quiet?” I didn’t blame Him but there were times where it was hard to pray. Here’s the thing: I couldn’t NOT pray. When I woke one day and knelt to pray, all I could muster was a thank you. I went back a little later when I felt my spirit lighten and it felt right.
People who are mature in faith and in their walk sometimes make you think that you should be able to praise God through trials easily. It’s not that easy sometimes! Please stop telling us it is. More than half my book purchases these days are from ministries that are honest about the struggles of faith. Growing in faith does produce growing pains and you absolutely have to work at it. I know what He’s done for me and having a grateful heart makes it easier but it wasn’t until I began to really trust Him that I felt Him bringing me into a different space. He put a new motivation in my spirit and finally I was able to say, “Thank You for these trials.”
“I found me right where I left me.” – Matthew McConaughey
It is said trials are just a test of faith. And YES, and they can be doozies but it’s part of seeing ourselves as we really are. Flaws, weaknesses and errythang. I was surprised to learn that the saying, “God won’t put more on you than you can bear,” is not rooted in scripture. Some Christians use it to console others dealing with tragedy and stress but they may be taking 1 Corinthians out of context. That passage is about God helping us withstand temptation. There’s a warning there: be careful about what you take in because people will recite some scripture completely out of context and apply it to whatever they want. [side eye] Check your bible. I digress.
You Have to Keep Going
You can potentially reach a point of deep despair or anger (or both) and although I believe wholeheartedly in miracles, there is no magic door that will appear to get you out of a bad situation. I can’t speak for others but I found it particularly difficult to keep going on some of those days. Unfortunately, I know those days will come again but I won’t waste time worrying about them now. We’re not built to live complacent or drama free – as much as we might like. When He needs us to grow, He will put people and situations in our life to get us where He needs us to be. We always want to understand what He’s doing but we could never see the whole picture the way He does. It’s entirely possible the troubles we endure are just a blip in the timeline of our life on earth. I’ve also come to understand that when it seems like we are all alone or going through something [we think] no one else could understand, God is keeping us to Himself while He’s working on us. I like that. He loves me so much that He says, “I’m keeping you all to myself. When you hurt, remember I am here with you. Just stay close to Me while I work out this part of your life. It may seem like it’s taking a long time but I assure you it will be worth the wait. I’m your Father and I GOT you.”
I could go on but my point is that I didn’t know if I was capable of praising and thanking the Lord for my trials but I see now that if I hadn’t been through everything I’ve been through, I would not be where I am today. I would not have personal stories of tragedy, triumph and survival to share to encourage or empathize with others. I couldn’t connect to people the way I do and He couldn’t use me to get the word out to people who need Him.
Trials also develop patience and while I still have a tendency to fret over some things, it is short-lived because I understand that everything He has for me will come to me in His time.