A pervasive thought has been gnawing away in my mind for the last week or so, so I thought I'd share it here with you.
The idea is this: when I'm going through the worst days of my life and enduring more than I ever thought I could bear, this is the time where the Lord wants to see the most growth out of me; it's exactly the time when He wants me to spend the most quality time with Him, and He desperately wants to help me persevere through this time of trial. Did you get that? God does not want me to simply survive or just barely make it through this time of tribulations "by the skin of my teeth" or something like that. Oh no. The Good Lord wants me to thrive; to experience continuous growth and have overflowing joy at all times, never succumbing to my mind-numbing circumstances, but rising above them, victorious.
Honestly, this sounds ridiculous most of the time, like God is asking too much of me. Sometimes I feel like it's all I can do simply to survive the day, dreading the new dawn, full of the same old troubles.
But dear friends, there is something better out there for me, and for you. It's true that this whole 'thriving through trials' thing sounds too far-fetched to be doable, but it is doable with God's help. You are capable of ending each day with a sense of valid accomplishment. Maybe not a sense of "I did everything perfect today", but at least a sense of "I did my best today and allowed God to really fill me and it was a successful day because I spent it in constant communion with Him" sort of day. And that's a successful, productive day; a day you can be proud of. No matter what else you get accomplished (or don't), a day spent with the Lord is never a wasted day.
Here's one of my favorite verses, and it speaks to the heart of this issue: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4)
Did you catch all that? Is this verse speaking of just surviving a period of trial and pain in your life like you're a shipwreck survivor clinging to a floating piece of the ship's hull as you're being brutally tossed about by merciless waves? Far from it! This wonderful verse says it's possible to have real and lasting JOY as we face various troubles! And it doesn't leave us hanging as to the reason why we can have joy. It goes on to explain how it's possible to experience joy in the midst of horrible times: because these terrible trials are testing us, yes, but they're also doing something amazing. These tumultuous times are doing something inside us: they're forming us into newer, stronger people of faith. Times of trial, when we have to have blind faith in God and press on ahead without knowing the outcome, those times are supposed to be teaching us that God is very good and that He truly has our best interests in mind, all the time, even if we ask Him for something we really want and His answer is "No."
That process of learning to trust God completely, all the time, is what growing your faith is. And not allowing your circumstances to control your emotions? That's called perseverance. Don't allow your circumstances to cause you to doubt that God's still in control, He loves you desperately, and He's forming a Master Plan concerning you, that will help you grow into a more mature and complete Christian and person, a person who looks like Jesus Christ.
Sounds good, right? Because what this world desperately needs is more people who act and love like Jesus. And when your faith is unshakable, you'll have the peace of Christ covering your mind, and you'll have the joy of the Lord shining from your heart. You'll be complete, as the verse above says. And that's the "abundant life" that Jesus says He came here to give you.
And don't it sound fabulous?