Ever since I married the man of my dreams, returned to my Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and allowed his Holy Spirit to invade my entire being (most days I hope!) – I’ll have to say, I’ve led a rosy life. I’m in year 32 if you’re wondering.
That’s not to say it hasn’t come without trials. And at the time of this writing—I waited to publish this—I am smack in the middle of one of them. It’s bad. Very bad. At least that is how I see it. And it has me questioning myself – and God – with questions like:
Can I really hold up and represent Christ in this trial? … and glorify God? … and have everything that comes out of my mouth be pleasing and loving?
No! I can’t hold up. I’m not representing Christ well at all. What is coming out of my heart and mouth is not pleasing or loving. The “trial” (that’s what I’m calling it) has gotten to me greatly.
So of course I must go to my knees, fall on my face (figuratively of course) and say, I can do none of those things unless God gives me the grace and His Spirit and wisdom to do them. It is times like these—when smack in the middle of the experience—that I realize I can do nothing apart from Christ. It is times like these that peaceful and loving and intelligent words escape me.
And oh how I’d like to say the perfect thing to silence the enemy. But I never seem to get those kinds of words when face to face with the enemy. Yes, in the moment, I now see my trial as my enemy.
In my head when I am alone, several verses in Scripture come to mind – but then I have to sort them all out–with the help of the Holy Spirit–as to which one best applies to the situation at the moment.
Am I to dust the dust off my shoes and make a run for it? (cf. Luke 9:5)
Am I to ask for powerful words that will cut like a knife into a hardened heart? (cf. Matthew 12:34)
Am I to love the other deeply and let that love cover a multitude of sins? (cf. 1 Peter 4:8)
Am I to turn the other cheek? (cf. Matthew 5:39)
Funny how I can justify what I’m thinking and feeling in the moment with several passages from Scripture. But I’m still left in a miserable state and wondering the best plan for the current trial that has rendered me a complete mess. The passages like “turn the other cheek” and “love one another deeply” are far from what my heart is feeling. I’m definitely in imprecatory Psalm mode.
So, perhaps in times like these it is a powerful thing to pray while opening the Word of God with a desperate heart – and let the Word flow over me like a balm in Gilead. Yesterday I went to James – because I really wanted wisdom – God assured me that He gives it lavishly – and yet by that evening wisdom went out the window – So this morning I went to Ephesians 4 – and verses 2 & 3 seemed perfect for my trial and helped my soul.
Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.
But I don’t feel humble or gentle or patient and have no love for the other.
But I’m not alone in my trial.
My husband – of course is the only calm in this storm at the moment. Can I just tell you how fabulous he is under certain pressures not his own?
And then I called my mom. That had its soothing moments as well. She prayed multiple times throughout the conversation, and then as our conversation was about to end she expressed her delight in me in such a way that it had me in a puddle of tears – even now as I write there is this puddle – I must stop – tears are not the thing at the moment – don’t let the enemy see you cry, right?
Yet in this moment, something mystical and otherworldly is happening in my soul. My tears of anger and hurt and disappointment have now turned to tears of gratitude and comfort. Through my dear personal saints and because of God’s love for me, I am able to bear up under the trial. Shalom invaded my heart even though the trial went on. But it indeed was one of those momentary trials. And I have to wonder, did it achieve for me a glory that outweighed the trial? While I don’t see it yet – I sure hope that is indeed the case.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
P.S. This particular trial is now over—I’ve had at least two others since I wrote this one—and I am obviously in perpetual student mode, never mastering any trial—self-inflicted or other-inflicted—and I find even then it’s hard to know what I’ve brought on myself because I have a very unguarded heart. This also has me wondering – is my heart too vulnerable? – and is there such a thing as being too vulnerable? Perhaps that’s a chapter in itself. But if you’re looking for a bottom line from me, this is what I think in the moment—the moment I actually will publish this publicly for the whole world to see if they so choose … our trials really are temporary—at least mine are—and I don’t think I’m atypical. And God is there—and He provides his word and his children as the necessary tools to get us past any and all of them. And here’s the thing—they really do produce fruit—perhaps we can’t see it in the moment—but it’s coming—wait for it! And also, remember this—this is the lesson I’m taking away from it—I need to learn how to deal with messy relationships in a godly fashion. I’m still a long way off, but perhaps I’m not nearly as pitiful as I was 32 years ago, just starting out on the journey of grace. Oh that reminds me, others need this grace from me that I lavish on myself. And one other thing, there are no formulas. Stink.
This morning, before I read your post, I was thanking God for you. For your endlessly generous giving of yourself – your love, your time, your winsome support and encouragement. I was telling God that I could wrap my mind around how good He was to me, to give me someone like you in my life. I’m so sorry you went through such a painful trial. Thank you for having the courage to honestly share your struggle and wrestling to get to shalom. One day (possibly soon!) it won’t be like this. One day we’ll laugh about how hard it was. I’m so very proud of you. I love you.