Our journey as a Christ follower is never finished. We will be learning and growing until we take our last breath and graduate from this life into eternity. The older I get, the more excited about that I become.
On our journey, we hit milestones of growth along the way, Today was one of those for me. It was subtle, but strong.
Backing up a bit, it’s been the year of all years. Some good, but lots of bad and ugly. One of the most difficult years I’ve been through. Oh, over the years I’ve struggled and had some hardships along the way. Each time I felt God’s tender touch and grace guiding me through. I also worked hard to walk through it on my own, now truly understanding His place in my struggles.
It’s easy to celebrate and thank the Lord for the good. It’s easy to pray and ask Him for things that would make my life easier. I pray and pray and know that He will come through. I amp up my walk, believing that the more I do, the more He will hear and answer!
This past year has taken me down a different path. As we have trudged through some really tough times, I was able to begin to understand the idea of thanking Him… even in the storms. But then things would look up and I would go back to taking it on myself and working it out.
This summer I hit an all time low. I had the most difficult two weeks of my life. On my face, I cried out from the depths of my soul. I begged Him for help and healing. Then I began to praise Him as the storm raged around me.
When the fog finally lifted, I felt renewed in my faith and looked at Christ with different eyes. And alas, as time went on, I slowly took over taking care of business. All the while, working harder to make sure that He would always notice me, listen to me, hear me and then answer. In the depths of my soul, I felt that if I worked hard enough at loving Him and doing good for Him, that He would surely shelter me from the really big stuff.
Fast forward to this morning. I’m sitting in our Sunday service listening to my pastor preach his last sermon in his Epic Grace series.
He spoke of being in the fog. What do we do when the fog rolls in and envelopes us in hard times? I began to think about the past year. There seemed to have been more days of fog than usual. But it eventually rolled out and things cleared.
He spoke about letting go of the worry and fear around things that we can’t control. Life is going to happen. Hard times will fall on us. We’ve got to be okay in this moment because we don’t know what is around the corner. Why do we worry about things we don’t have control over?
Then he said something that hit me hard and was the moment of that shift for me. In so many words, poorly paraphrased, we will have hard times. We will have difficult times until the day when it will be made perfect. People struggle day in and day out. Some people have chronic illness and suffer daily. LIfe will be hard, but we will be made perfect when we leave this earth.
I know that the difficulties this past year are not the end. God has not given us our allotment and now we are good to go until we die. There will be struggles and most likely struggles greater than what we’ve already been through, but I get to choose how I respond.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
(Philippians 4:4-9, 11-13NIV)
It finally made sense to me. Just because I’m a Christ-follower, does not mean exempt from hardship. And when I’m in the midst, He may not take it away from me. I may have fog that will envelop me for the remainder of my days on this earth. But the good news is that I have a Savior who loves me enough to give me strength when I need it and grace when I don’t have enough.
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