Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Year of Doubt & Pain

We’ve come to a milestone of sorts and it has brought on a time of reflection.  Our conclusion: we wouldn’t repeat the previous year even if you offered us $10 million.  Seriously.   No exaggeration.  Wouldn’t do it.  

This year had some victories and of course the Father added a little blessing to our crew who we love to pieces and are so grateful for.  But overall as we look back over this year it has been one of doubt and pain.  Sure there are some stories that we can look back at and laugh.  Like the time I told the plumber, “My husband is fun” Instead of “My husband is coming”.  Sigh.  However, most of our experiences only bring us to look at the deep wounds they’ve caused and are just beginning to heal.  But the fact that they are beginning to heal is because of the Father’s faithfulness, love, and grace.  We knew it would come, we knew we were being refined by fire and that we’d come out on the other side trusting Him more and having a new understanding of His love and faithfulness.  We waited for it and longed for His return and we are starting to emerge from the flames.  Not that we have yet reached our goal but press on towards what is ahead.  

I remember texting with a girlfriend on a particularly rough day and her encouraging me that the other side of this will be peace.  I found truth in her statement and told her that but didn’t want to suffer through the present.  It hurt too much.  

He brought us through sick kids, living on three different continents, medical uncertainty, a birth, travel to a fourth continent, a house full of mold & backed up sewer, hurt and rejection from co-workers, cold water, unreliable electricity, frustrations in our marriage, being quick to anger with our kids, tears, lots of tears and a huge cultural learning curve.  We not only survived but are beginning to thrive in this new life.

We survived on the Word, it was our food, I was starving for it.  Before I even opened my eyes in the morning I would think Psalm 3:5 “I lay down and slept; I woke again for the Lord sustained me.”  And while the Word of God is living and active and sharper than a two edged sword and is always truth this verse became my lifeline.  Nothing outside of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ could sustain me.

Prayer became a constant. As I dressed I asked for strength to do so, as I got my kids ready I asked for their protection as we sent them out as sheep among wolves, as we searched for a taxi I asked for provision, when our water heater shot out flames and I was heating water on the stove for kids bathes I asked for perseverance, when I was angry with my husband and kids I asked for forgiveness and prayed for a loving heart, and it goes on….  Before when I read 1Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  I thought, “Is it possible to pray continually?  Like ALL the time?”  Dear friends, let me tell you, it is possible and this year for me it has been necessary.

So here we are.  There are even days now that we can get through and it seems almost normal.  But those days are followed by a week of doubt….is this really what we are supposed to be doing?  Are we making a difference?  Does it even matter eternally that we are killing ourselves to do this?  The pain of loneliness and uncertainty resurface. 

On those days I write verse after verse on post-it notes and stick them everywhere around the house.  So even when I dare not pick up the Word that will wipe away all the doubt & uncertainty it’s there in my face speaking truth to a broken heart.  

From a few of my post-its: 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.  Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”  Prov 3:3-8

Often my doubt was from trying to be wise in my own eyes.  Thank you Father for drawing me back to you and giving me refreshment!

“Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress.  Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!” Psalm 4:1

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that but we rejoice in our sufferings…which produces hope and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5

And of course the truths that keep us going:

“I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers I do not consider that I have made it my own.  But one thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Phil 3:12-14

“For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.  So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4: 15-18.

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ ”  Matt 28:18-20

I didn’t write this post to bring pity on us but for you to rejoice with us in the Father’s faithfulness.  Dear friend if you are in the midst of the flames turn to the grace and hope of our Lord Jesus Christ and do not lose heart because you are being renewed day by day.  

If you’re a music fan here are my defining songs of the year that were often on repeat while I cooked dinner: 
Though You Slay Me by Shane & Shane

Pilgrims Progress by Matt Papa

We are living the promise that He is with us always, we are seeing His grace being extended to more and more people to His glory and we are pressing on.  The hurt from this year will no doubt leave some ugly scars and we are certain new wounds will come .  We live a broken world and in a particularly dark place.  But though the pain we can look ahead to His promises being fulfilled and so can you.  We will not lose heart.

A popular blog posted an article related to this, there are no shortcuts to living this life:

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