Saturday, December 21, 2013

On Joy in the Midst of Trial

As much as I yearn to go back to the days when I can write a superficial post about all that is joyful and merry in our lives, it seems that I just can't bring myself to do that anymore.

Oh, I still have joy. And there is still merriment. It's all mixed in there with trials and tears and battles done in the mind. And as much as I'd like back the Pollyanna view of life that I once had, it's just not how life is and only sets one up for disappointment.

I'm not taking a pessimistic stance on life. I've just simply come to learn that life is a cyclone of all kinds of emotions and events. And once I remove the idol of a "perfect life" (as if that even exists), then I can really settle in and enjoy each breath He gives me.

It's in the bitter-hearted fighting of the supposed "interruptions" to life (whether that be illness, financial woes, marital problems, or whatever else) that discontentment settles itself into the soul and begins its destructive nature on the mind.

I'm also not saying that we should just accept our problems and then give up any kind of healthy fight. Does that even make sense? I just know that, in my own personal life, sometimes I do so much flesh-based battle that I'm missing the spiritual purpose in the suffering. I fight so hard in my own strength (and, honestly, don't get much of anywhere) when what I really need to do is set it ALL at the throne of grace.

Recently, I was really struggling with still being sick almost five months later. I'm very much a problem-solver. I want to get to the bottom of the problem and then take the appropriate action to fix it. But I found that I had become so obsessed with my illness and my depression and anxiety, that I was literally hung in a place of limbo and discontentment. Realistically, no one wants to be ill. No one wants to push through the muddy cloud of depression. No one wants to have to face the fear of an anxiety attack.

However, it occurred to me that I was tackling this problem from the wrong angle. I was obsessively worrying about what was wrong with me rather than leaning hard into Christ and trusting Him. I was so focused on getting better and getting on with my life (because illness is an interruption to life), that I was missing the point of trials in the believer's life.

And it occurred to me that if I truly claimed to believe God, then I had to also believe His Word that says this:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

And that includes illness. And depression. And anxiety. Are those things from God? Well, they only exist because we abide in a fallen world. But I do believe that if our loving Father knows that a trial will grow and purify our faith, then He will give His permission for it to afflict us for whatever time He deems as necessary. 

But if He permits it, then there is an eternal purpose behind that permission. None of our trials and struggles are for naught. He wastes none of it. It all serves a purpose. A purpose that is for our good and His glory.

And in those moments when my faith and belief are staggering, I simply pray the prayer of the father who brought his very ill child to Christ to be healed ~ "I do believe. Help my disbelief." (Mark 9:24)

And I'm thankful that God doesn't chastise our moments of doubt, but allows for us to come before His throne and plead for help to believe. 

So in the midst of the present trials, we've been living life. Savoring the small moments of time. 

There's been a lot of crocheting, knitting, and hand-sewing going on as we have been preparing our handmade gifts for Christmas. 

There's also been our studies and decorating and time spent outside enjoying the snow. 

There's been thankfulness for the freezer full of garden veggies that we are now enjoying various ways during these winter months. 

There's been time spent curled up on the couch with an afghan and a good book. 

And there's been much time spent in the presence of my Father.

As I start to feel better physically, I really do hope to get back to a more routine blogging habit. I do really enjoy sharing on this little virtual space. And I'm glad that I could share with you all about the trials in our life right now because, in all reality, no one is exempt from trials, and there is comfort in knowing you're not alone. 

But there's also a great comfort in knowing that God has not purposed for us to have joy and contentment in the midst of a perfect life. No, that would be much too easy. How would we learn and grow? How would our faith be proved? God purposes for us to seek and find joy and contentment and grace while in the middle of the storms. 

So if I do not write another post before Christmas, I do want to take a moment and wish you all a very blessed Christmas. I pray that the magnitude of the day would sink deep into your soul. That as you celebrate the birth of the Christ child, you will experience a deep gratitude for why He had to come in the first place. 

Many blessings to you and yours!


born imaginative. said...

I have been thinking of you. It all works together for good, it's hard to see that in the midst of everything, but it may be months or years that you'll look back and know that you were living His perfect plan. There does seem to be much joy in your life even amongst the struggles. You are indeed blessed and I wish you a magical Christmas.

Wendi said...

"God purposes for us to seek and find joy and contentment and grace while in the middle of the storms." Yes! I have learned so much about perfection, joy and where and how to find it. I have to keep reminding myself that joy is always there. You just have to look for it through the good, the bad and the ugly.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas! I pray that when you turn the calendar to 2014 you are blessed with a year of less struggles.

Missy D said...

I see the Lord working through your weakness. Yes, I see HIS strength and it is a beautiful testimony to the power of Christ. Thank you for sharing. Praying you continue to fully put your trust in HIM. Merry Christmas, my sweet friend!


Missy D said...

I see God working through your weakness. Yes, I see HIS strength and it's a beautiful testimony to the power of Christ. Praying you continue to fully rely on HIM so He may continue HIS good work in you. Merry Christmas, my precious friend and sister in Christ.


Rachel E. said...

You, my friend, are human. Made in God's image. There is nothing, nothing - you go through or feel he isn't aware of. He loves you oh so much and wants to lead you through this all just as a Good Shepherd would and does. Stay strong in His precious hands.

I love your pictures. They capture so much. Thanks for sharing and have a Merry Christmas.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing Amber. Have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed new year.


Midlife Crisis in a Campervan said...

I have suffered depression most of my adult life and i really feel for you.Hang in there -you will find a way through.wishing you an illness free happy christmas from here in the your house and children are beautiful xxx

Christal said...

I love your blog, it is like a breath of fresh air. God bless you and your family!

Christal said...

I love your blog, it is like a breath of fresh air! God bless and Merry christmas!

Pat C. said...

Amber, I've prayed for you so often during the past few months. Like you, I've been going through a thing of depression/anxiety and God is teaching me to focus on Him.
My flesh wants to go back to my old happy life where I enjoyed everything but didn't have to lean on Him so heavily or praise and thank Him that often, so when you said, "And once I remove the idol of a "perfect life" (as if that even exists), then I can really settle in and enjoy each breath He gives me." That really blessed me.
I recently read a great book, "Torn to Heal: God's Good Purpose in Suffering" by Mike Leake.
In it, he addresses suffering and depression as something allowed by God. (as you and I are learning.)
Your home, kids and pictures are SO beautiful. I will check out your crocheted items.
Sorry this is so long!
God is leading us into His perfect joy!

Simply Shelley said...

I have learned...when I am weak, he is strong...always. I think I am going to like visiting here :) Blessings