I’ve wept more in the last three years than probably in the rest of my life. This season has brought me the hardest time (so far) in parenting, marriage and ministry, all at the same time.
It’s easy to look in the rearview mirror at past struggles and be thankful because you can see how God redeemed them. For instance, I’m thankful for infertility because I learned to trust and see my children as miracles from God’s hand. I’m thankful for struggles in marriage because of the deeper intimacy my husband and I now share.
But I’m not sure if I can—or if I’m even called to—look at all current trials and thank God for them. I’m not, today, grateful for the losses my church is experiencing, the relational tensions among friends, the deep emotional struggles of my children or the sin at the root of so many of these hardships.
God keeps reminding me there is more than enough reason for gratitude on even the hardest days.
And I don’t know how any of these will play out. I have no promise from God that my children will follow Him, my church won’t close its doors, my friendships will last…or that I will be able to respond to all of these struggles with the grace, love and humility to which Christ calls me.
And yet God keeps reminding me there is more than enough reason for gratitude on even the hardest days. Because even when there are discouraging phone calls, slammed doors and dreams that feel like they’re slipping away, there’s Jesus. And if the desperate, discouraging seasons cause me to turn to Him because there’s nothing else to lean on, I can thank God that I’m gaining something better than all I’m losing. I’m gaining Christ.
Whatever sacrifices I am called to make, whatever difficult things the Father allows in my path, whatever losses I must mourn or thorns in the flesh I must endure, God is working in all of them to reveal Himself to me. He is my greatest prize and deepest joy, so if these hardships are what it takes to gain Christ, then thank you, Jesus, for the times of weeping.
Lately, I’ve been pondering Paul’s ability to boast gladly in his weaknesses and delight in hardships and persecutions because they caused him to experience the sufficiency of Christ’s strength in a new way:
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor 12:9-10)
I’m not there yet, but I think I’m beginning to taste it. If the difficult, wearying seasons are what it takes for me to stop trusting in my own feeble strength (that I easily misjudge as sufficient) and rest in the waiting arms of my Savior, who is more than enough, then I am grateful. Jesus, and not my own wisdom or work, is enough not only for me but also for my children, my students, my church, my friends.
I can learn to delight in the hardships because, waiting within them, is a Savior who is more than sufficient.
Even when I can’t count my trials as pure joy, I can rejoice in God, who is using this season to refine my faith, expose my sin, grow my compassion and pull me close to Him. I can be grateful for God who never changes and never leaves, and for a future culmination of redemption in which everything will be made right and there will be no more tears. In this broken world, as Jesus said, there will be trouble. But by God’s grace, I can learn to delight in the hardships because, waiting within them, is a Savior who is more than sufficient.