Authors Note: I know it has been many, many months since I wrote a blog but I think you will understand after you read this why I took such a long break. I do hope my honesty is encouraging to whoever reads this post.
The fist line of my journal today reads “God, please show me how your are using this trial to supply my needs?” Truth is my husband and I are walking through on of the biggest trials or valleys of our life. Often times we just feel confused and don’t quite understand why God is taking us through this period of time and we wonder how long oh Lord is this going to last?
But God works in mysterious ways. Today and last night it was through three different sources – my bible study, the daily devotional that my husband and I do together each night and an article that I read – they all pointed me to this thought, what needs has God supplied through this trial?
We don’t often want to look to our trials to supply our needs, instead we beg and cry out to God to take away the trial, we tell him we can’t handle it, we don’t want it and we get angry with God for not protecting us from it.
But the more I walk through the valley, the more I see the ways God is using it. Yes, I don’t want to be here! I would rather learn these lessons some other way, but would I? Would I learn these lessons if I wasn’t walking through this trial? No, I wouldn’t and as much as it hurts to say that, it’s the truth.
Our trial has required of us to reduced our debt and start living more within our means than we ever have before. It has given us a new perspective on what is truly important in this life and I can tell you right now its NOT things of this world. It has taught me to be a prayer warrior and not just for myself but for my family, friends and my church. The most important lesson we are learning is TRUST, to trust God, to trust each other and to trust other wise Christians to walk along side us. God is also teaching us that he will supply the strength and grace we need to take each step, because he is walking with us even when we can’t see him.
In Job 2:10 it says “… shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” and in Romans 8:28 its says “And we KNOW that in ALL THINGS, God works for the GOOD of those who LOVE HIM, who have been called according to HIS PURPOSE” (emphasis mine).
If God has chosen you, called you and you love Him, you must remember that God uses ALL THINGS (suffering, grief, trials, joy, thanksgiving), all things to work good in our lives. If you walk through life accepting only the good things from God but getting angry for the trials, you will miss a large portion of what God wants to teach you. So my challenge to you today, ask yourself “What is God teaching me through my suffering?”
At some point in the future, I am not sure when, I will share more details of our story, but for now my friends you just have to trust that I am not speaking from a place of ease and comfort but from the middle of one of the deepest darkest valleys of my life and I am still saying “God is Good! Trust him and look for the ways he is using your trials to teach you.” Some days its harder than others, but remember that God tells us in Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Be encouraged today, God is always present and he will care for you.
I often have to remind myself of the definition of certain words. We hear them so often and use them ourselves, but do we really know what they mean?
Psalms 130:5 tells us “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my HOPE.” As I read that I wondered, “Do I really have a grasp on how to wait for the Lord and put my HOPE in His word? What does it mean to really mean to hope?
The definition of hope is to expect with confidence. Wow! God is asking us to learn to wait for His timing but we are not just to wait and let doubt, fear or negativity wash over us. We are supposed to wait, read His word, learn from his word and expect with confidence that He has a plan. That he will provide and that he will come through for us.
I am not very good at this instead I try to control, change, plan or make decisions that will force something to happen. In doing so I am missing out on what God can teach me in the waiting and hoping. Do you have confidence that the Lord id doing something great in the waiting?
Philippians 1:16 “being CONFIDENT of this, that he who has begun a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
As I spent time with God early one morning, reading a devotional and listening to the pouring rain, in those quiet hours of the morning God started to reveal to me that He has done nothing to deserve our distrust. His word does not say, He might meet our needs or maybe he will bless us. His word clearly states, He will meet our needs and he will bless us. (Phil 4:19, Eph.1:3) With these amazing promises how do we forget to trust him? How do we forget about him so easily in our day-to-day lives and try to do everything on our own? Is it because our lives don’t look like we think they should? Are we God? Do we know what is best for ourselves? Sometime we think we do, but in truth we do not. God promises that he will bless us, He promises that he will meet our needs! God has our best at the center of His sovereign plan. Ask him to remind you today that He will meet your needs and that you have already been blessed, wherever you are, whatever life looks like, He has blessed you. Rest in that and be content that He knows what He is doing!
Phillippians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."
Ephesians 1:3 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ."
Recently, my husband and I watched the new movie “Collateral Beauty” and we enjoyed it very much. It is not a theological movie, it is not based on God’s word or God’s promises and it makes no claims to be, but its premise - beauty in pain and sorrow – stirred in me a search for collateral beauty. A collateral beauty based on a faith filled life that believes that God is sovereign and in His sovereignty He has a plan for every thing that happens in our life; big or small, painful or joyful.
I began to pray that if I was to share this idea of collateral beauty with you, that He would give me wisdom and reinforce that it was truly backed up in His promises and in His Word. There are many other ways to state this idea, beauty in the ashes of life, beauty in the pain of this world and joy in the trials He gives us, but it all leads to one place, collateral beauty. I also didn’t want just random Bible verses that supported my musings, but biblical examples of people, who found collateral beauty in the midst of their story or whose story shows us that collateral beauty can be found anywhere and at any time.
As I was driving to pick up my step-son Logan this morning and take him to his bus, I asked God to reveal to me some of these stories and so my mind began to wander through the pages of the Scripture and even now as I think about it, I am beginning to see that there is collateral beauty in almost every story in the Bible. The story of Abraham, Sarah and Isaac, in Genesis chapters 21 – 22 and as you read those words you see the beauty that comes from the trials and waiting that Abraham and Sarah had to endure. Even though they did not always make right decisions, God had promised them a child and he still fulfilled his promise, He gave them a son, Isaac, their collateral beauty in the midst of life.
Then there is the book of Ruth! A book filled with pain and suffering, but ends with beauty, the beauty of God’s plan in the midst of it all. The beauty of following His will when everything looks dark and with out hope! This story shows the collateral beauty of commitment, compassion and love for others that Ruth displayed in her actions towards Naomi, the collateral beauty of Boaz and his honorable acts to redeem Ruth and Naomi and continue the family line.
The one story that displays collateral beauty the best is Jesus Christ on the cross! God gives his only son, He allows him to die on the cross for us, sinners, to save us! We are the beauty from that pain! Our lives devoted to Christ and living out His plan for us is the most fulfilling example of collateral beauty.
I will be honest, I know my struggles are not as deep and painful as some out there, but to me they are struggles non-the-less and I need to remind myself to look for the collateral beauty in all things. I also do not know what God has in store for me down the road or how the lessons I learn in the small things will prepare me for something bigger. So please don’t feel like I am belittling your pain or making small of the things you struggle with. Pain is real. Our struggles are real and they are different for everyone. But there is one common thread in all of these stories, God and his plan and following Him no matter where He leads us. It may take small things like a sunrise on a day that you didn’t want to get out of bed that speaks of collateral beauty or it maybe something life changing. It may take months or years to see collateral beauty in what you are experiencing, but don’t let the pain blind you from what God is trying to teach you. Allow God to show you the beauty through the lens of pain and struggle. Once you see the beauty in what you have experienced you can share it with those who need it most.
Collateral beauty, look for it and you might find it in the most unexpected places, a sunrise, a rainbow, a flower in bloom, a friend who shows you compassion or a phone call or card just to say I am thinking of you. Collateral beauty is around us everyday, if we will allow God to show it to us.