Do you agree with this statement?
"The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."
Perseverance through trials seems to me to be an art. One I can be quite good at when necessary. I put on my game face, pull myself up by my bootstraps (did I even say that right?) and get to work to the task at hand. I have found I am particularly good at this. Put the nose to the grindstone (did I say that one right too?) and get the job done. But at what cost to my own soul? If it simply is about my good works and making the best of a situation simply to survive and move beyond it, have I missed the point of it all? Was there even something to be learned? Have I missed the glorious refinement, the tailored pruning? Have I missed it all?
We are called to persevere.
We are promised hardship.
We are promised heart break.
We are promised persecution.
The Lord has also promised that our character will be refined. We will actually become more like Him in this process if we allow him, which is actually the point of most trials!
We will love deeper.
We will extend grace more freely.
We will be emboldened by the truth to live as Christ lives in us!
We will truly "see" ourselves and others as His children, saved by the grace of redemption.
There are many blessed promises and many ways he will develop us through perseverance and through the trials.
So, why do we get stuck in a rut? I was recently experiencing a bout with burnout. You know what I am talking about. The weariness, the fatigue, the there's-not-enough-hours-in-the-day to complete my growing work load or enough-hours-in-the-night to rejuvenate during sleep. The days begin to run together, each one looking the same as the last. Nothing changes, the work continues, the sleep decreases. I work harder. I get more tired. I work even harder hoping I will magically reach some level of completion allowing for rest... it doesn't happen. The mind wanders, the soul questions "is this it?" I begin to question if someone or something has put me in the position to "have to" persevere instead of "get to" persevere to become more like Christ. I blame. I get angry. I am snappy with my family (and I don't mean snappy in a musical theatre sort of way...). I am a bear to be around. There is no joy. I am working a J.O.B. in every area- motherhood, ministry, wifery. (did i just make that word up?) My life becomes joyless.
Why do we, when "forced" to persevere grow weary, bitter, angered as if we've been treated wrongly and that is somehow "unjust?" As if we were promised a life of easy choices, light work, minimal responsibilities... my mind goes there. It's a battle. And then I remember, then I hear that small but mighty voice deep inside whispering over the raging of my soul... "take heart, you WILL have trouble in this world, but I have overcome the world." And I find a strengthening of heart. That small voice increases until the words are pounding in my heart, ringing through my ears, coursing through the blood stream. This is what we are made of. This is what we are made for. To love Him. To love others. To become more like him. Nothing.else.matters. Nothing.
It is not someone or something that has caused this trial set before me, that sucks the life from my bones. God almighty who has infinite knowledge and insight and the Lord Jesus who knows my heart inside and out who has put the trial before me. I know it. I've known it all along, but somewhere along the way the heart is turned towards blaming each other, our jobs, our spouses, our kids, our sicknesses and we begin to live in a world of "what if's" and "if only I had..."
Friends, speaking from personal experience, this comes at a grave price. Romans says we must REJOICE in our sufferings because when we rejoice and count our trial as a gift from the Lord, we have an expectation of hope, an expectation that our character will be refined. We can expect to become more like him. We are aware, throughout enduring, the need to seek and remain joyful in Him, because we know this thing, this really hard thing we are fighting through will be the thing Jesus uses to make us more like him. We will see him clearer. We will hear him in our souls. And this glorious rejoicing, produces H.O.P.E. Deep breath in... Hope. Yes, there it is.
Do you see it? HOPE! The exact opposite of what so many of us live in daily, despair. Hopelessness.
But the key to opening your heart up to hope is right there... REJOICE. Give Thanks.
The key is to change our heart's tune to thinking we've been given another awful situation from God almighty or worse, because I failed at something into realizing the beautiful gift God has given us. He sees something in you and wants to perfect you to be more like Him.
I have tasted and I have seen the glory of the Lord working in and through, pruning me SO THAT I may bear good fruit, more fruit. He doesn't prune us, to punish us. He doesn't prune us to keep us down. He doesn't prune us so that we may be shamed or feel unworthy. He prunes us (sometimes not so gently) so that we may be more fruitful.
A gift. From Him. To you. To me. If you choose to see it as such and receive it as such.
Today I am giving over to His will. His gifts. His joy and giving thanks to the Almighty God. "Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite." (Psalm 147:5) His understanding is infinite and my soul rests in knowing that our Great, Almighty God understands more than I could grasp or fathom. He knows my own soul, his spirit is within! He will wash over me like the ocean's tide.
What about you? How do you see trials? What must you give over to Him today?