Finding Hope in Trials

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After one of those real conversations tonight with a friend, I felt compelled to write. We’re both undergoing tremendously stressful life situations and we were sharing our updates. We both wondered why it sometimes has to be so hard.

My mind then wandered to my hike earlier today. It was the first evening off in 13 days and after a 55 hour stress filled work week during which I found myself spontaneous crying throughout; it ended on a fitting note with a mini breakdown after my car wouldn’t start as I attempted to leave to visit a new church I was excited for on Sunday morning. Needless to say, Monday morning found me as a walking zombie and not the cute-scary kind either, but the real ugly-scary kind.

However, my hike this evening was absolutely gorgeous. The solitary path was lined with tall trees that were adorned with gold and yellow leaves; the gentle breeze blowing them about as I walked. About midpoint though it started to trickle and then rain. This was such a captivating experience. The light rain caused the leaves to shed even more all around me. As I stood there, alone in the wooded beauty, with the soothing sounds of nature and rain, I put my arms out and spun a bit. As if I was in a movie and someone, somewhere was capturing it all. It felt so lovely. But as I continued to walk, the rain was no longer just lovely drops, but it started down hard. And then even harder. It was as if God literally had a bucket of water he was personally holding and pouring over my head. Apparently those Tennessee showers don’t mess around.

As my movie scene transitioned from dancing in the rain to running in a torrential downpour, with mascara smeared across my face, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. My week was a torrential downpour and the only moment of respite I had was, well, also a downpour.

As I tried to hide my cell phone from being soaked and as I hurried to my car, drenched from head to toe, I couldn’t help but wonder. Maybe I’ve allowed my week (month, year) to become so hard because instead of seeing the rain and embracing it, I have strove so hard to stop it, to hide from it, and to protect myself from it.

I’ve felt grief, the kind that sweeps over you; you only need to allow yourself to think for a second before your eyes well up with tears. I’ve been striving so hard to make everything work. And I’m exhausted. I’m somehow angry at all of my friends and the people surrounding me with their trivial chatter and happy lives. The phrase ‘at your wits end’ is what I embody.

This is not God’s plan for me or for anyone. He said that He will never leave us or forsake us. He said that in our weakness, He is our strength. He said to not worry about the cares of this world for He cares for us. He said He is close, near and very present to the brokenhearted and the downcast. How is it then that we can let the sorrow and the stress overtake us until we find literally a walking dead version of ourselves?

As I encouraged my friend today, I was speaking to myself. The challenge is to surrender and to spend time in God’s presence, allowing the Holy Spirit to provide the strength, the wisdom, and the peace. I realized I was working so hard striving to provide for myself and fix things, all while continuing to pray frantically. I was using my own effort. My effort and power has limits. God’s effort and power is limitless.

Even when it feels like there’s no time, we must make time to lay our burdens before God and to read His Word that gives insight, wisdom, direction, and comfort. To sit in silence as we listen for His voice. To sing praise songs, remembering His works. And to cry out to Him, laying our burdens at the foot of the cross, and this is where we also leave them.

In Christ is the victory and the power– the enemy wants us to dwell on the hard things, to constantly tell ourselves how hard it is and how stressed we are. But God says to look to Him and He will give us perfect peace. (Isaiah 26:3) When we stop and say, God I give this to you, and when we surrender the outcome, trusting that He is good and that He is faithful, we can be released of our constant Martha frenzies or even our grief filled cries of “Lord if you had been here…” and we can walk through the fire with Jesus by our side and not get burned. (ie: Sunday morning mental breakdowns)

I believe when we keep coming to Jesus in our trials, He can captivate us and we can dance, even in the downpours. And then there’s the rainbows. Keep in mind that they are next.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27

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