A few months ago, I made some curtains for a friend and I had several things to take to my car when it was time to leave. My friend’s daughter Cate sweetly volunteered to help with a bag of curtains to take home and hem. I handed her the bag and suddenly saw a wave of frustration come over my daughter Morgan’s face. She had helped me bring the same bag before, and now that I had pinned the curtains, she wanted to help me take it to the car also because it was “her job”. I told Morgan she could hold my purse and she belligerently agreed. For the next 20 minutes, she had the melt-down of all melt-downs. Morgan didn’t like the job I had given her and was determined to make it known. Not willing to belabor the topic any longer, I told her, “You just need to hold what I tell you to; it doesn’t matter what it is – I need you to do the job I give you”.
I felt a sting of conviction as I heard these words come out of my very own mouth, because I knew I had heard the same message recently. I wouldn’t say I have been very content about my station in life at the moment and unfortunately, God has heard me whine about it more than once. In the last few years, I saw my daughter through a very difficult autoimmune disease/blood disorder. Soon after her remission, my mom, who is my best friend, found out she had a very aggressive form of breast cancer. Both of the situations were life-threatening and brought me to a place where I had to completely rely upon the Lord.
Although God probably used me in both circumstances, I would have much preferred to grow and be used in a different fashion with everyone healthy. I wondered why He couldn’t have used me in some fabulous ministry endeavor, where I can visually see the fruits of my labor, with a little more sparkle and a little less suffering on behalf of those I love most.
However, as I stated those words to Morgan, God reminded me that it is not about me…it is not about the fruits of “my” labor but about producing fruit for His Kingdom in a way that He chooses. God was telling me, “You just need to hold what I tell you, it doesn’t matter what it is.” It isn’t my role to question my given task or its purpose. I don’t need to complain about the service opportunities He has given me “to hold onto” in a specific life season, but I need to remember it has a purpose – to glorify Him. I so easily forget that God loves me more than I can mentally comprehend and He knows what is best for me long-term. He knows what is ahead and how He is working for my good. In the end, my earthly sufferings will be the eternal equivalent of a mosquito bite. Complaining only gets in the way of the task at hand, making it harder and possibly less effective.
Sometimes you find yourself in a hardship you never dreamed would have become reality, but there are certain things God can only achieve through hardships and suffering. Sometimes God places you in a certain position in order to grow you. As difficult as the last 4 years have been, I wouldn’t change them. During this phase, I have grown more in my faith than any other time in my life including when I grew up in the church and also years of seminary classes. Ironically, there are certain blessings God can only unlock through suffering. Would I like to go through it all again? No. However, the blessings that resulted from these events were well worth it and He was faithful to protect us through it all. Thankfully, Morgan’s immune system is fine now, and Mom finished her treatments with a good prognosis. God will never allow you to walk through something that will not be worth it on this side of heaven or the other.
There is one sure thing about life’s seasons – they always change. While the next season may not include today’s hardships, it also may not include today’s opportunities. We have an opportunity for others to see Him through us and when we are discontented about our station in life, we distort that message. What an opportunity to show them how God carries us through even the hardest of seasons.
In Genesis 37, we read about Joseph being sold into slavery by His jealous brothers. Potiphar, the Egyptian, takes Joseph under his wings and Joseph was very successful in his role for many years. Joseph was falsely accused of a crime and found himself in prison. Instead of focusing on his unfair circumstances, Joseph knew God had a plan and there was a purpose for his imprisonment. Joseph showed himself to be faithful and kind to the other men so he was put in charge of the prison although he was a prisoner himself. Later in Genesis 45 we find that Joseph’s family and the nation of Israel were preserved because of his obedience.
At the time, God often spoke to people through dreams and Joseph was able to translate these dreams God had given them. Because Joseph made the most of this opportunity, years later he was asked to translate Pharaoh’s dream. Because of Joseph’s wisdom, He was put in charge of all of Egypt under Pharaoh. Although, his time in prison was difficult, he knew it was necessary and allowed God to make the most out of His situation. Joseph became wealthy as he was in charge of the kingdom but His greatest wealth was His wisdom – even to the point that He was able to forgive his family for abandoning him.
Contentment cannot be found in grasping for tomorrow’s dreams but only through resting in God’s grace for today. While it is encouraging to know that things can improve, we cannot make that our “soul” focus. We must remember that “This is the day that the Lord has made” and know our trials are not a mistake or just bad luck. God allows them because the payout is much greater on His part and ours. If we are too preoccupied the future, we will miss the blessings He has for you today.
Application: What trial are you currently in? What opportunities do you have now to grow or help others grow because of this difficult time?