“I NEED A BREAK!” I screamed silently on a Monday afternoon. It had been such a long day, complete with failed nap times, gigantic temper tantrums, extra messes, ineffective discipline strategies, and three little crazy people tugging on every reachable body part I had. I felt like I was nearly drowning in the chaos of the everyday demands. As my husband pulled in the driveway after a day at work, I was plotting my escape. My escape to Sonic, that is, where a cold cherry Coke Zero and a few minutes of peace and quiet awaited me.
I often find myself resenting days like that one — days that demand 110% and test my limits. Admittedly, I sometimes even feel like someone owes me something. Overtime pay?! A pat on the back? Anything to make whatever I have just endured “worth it.”
In recent days, the Holy Spirit has been very kind to help me see my own love of comfort and ease and my natural resistance to hardship or difficulty. He has shown me how these things really do stand in stark contrast to sanctification — a necessary sequel to salvation.
The beauty of Christ is that He welcomes us into His family, just as we are (no clean up required)! He welcomes us with arms wide open and full of pure love. But then, as a loving Father would, He desires to gently but definitely raise us up to be daughters worthy of the name that we inherited by His grace. He can raise us up to be daughters who mirror the image of Jesus Christ.
This kind of molding and shaping can indeed happen when times are comfortable and easy, thank goodness! (Please, more of that, Lord!) In fact, you’d probably agree that most of us do live comfortably. But like me, you’ve probably learned that we’re inevitably going to encounter bumps on the road. Or detours. Or full-blown disasters.
And although many of us will never – God willing! – be faced with the kinds of trials that we are seeing scattered across the news these days, many of us will…
go through painstaking adoption journeys,
raise a posse of strong-willed preschoolers,
feel the pain of having a rebellious teen wander far from God,
be called to foster difficult children who come from broken families,
face the challenges of parenting a child with special needs,
deal with a family crisis,
watch our kid fight sickness,
navigate the demands of single parenting,
desperately long for a child to call our own,
or…you name it.
Whether our hardships are as mild as the everyday mom duties or as fierce as the suffering in the Middle East, they are part of His big-picture-plan for His people to look more like Him in order to make Himself known!
All throughout the New Testament we see trials are, at times, a necessary precursor to our purification.
James 1: 2-4, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
1 Peter 1:6-7, “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”
So every single difficulty that comes, whether moderate or extreme, presents me with the choice to either resent it and run OR cooperate with God and welcome His work. Just as it is easier to pluck a splinter out of my son’s toe when he complies, so our sanctification is much more pleasant if we will recognize what God is doing and work with Him in it!
On occasion, my husband half-jokingly refers to our kids as “little agents of sanctification.” And that they are!
So, when my one year old will NOT stop crying, I can get frustrated and impatient and become embittered with mothering him, OR I can recognize that God is developing in me patient endurance through this difficulty and giving me strength for the next!
When I learn that my child has an unwanted diagnosis, I can lash out at God and resort to fear, OR I can willingly let Him make me into the kind caregiver that He is to me. I can allow Him to increase my dependence on the Father who knows my child better than I do!
However the heat is turned up in my life, in motherhood or elsewhere, I want to:
- Have faith to believe God when He says He is working all things together for my good as I’m conformed to His image (Rom. 8:28-29).
- Avoid quenching the Spirit’s work in my life as He sees fit (Philippians 2:13).
- Value things that hold eternal significance more than I value my own comfort or happiness (Colossians 3:1-3).
What about you? What are the difficulties or struggles you are facing today? In those moments when all you want to do is run, are you able to see how God might intend to use them for your good and His glory? Is it worth it?
*Please leave your comments below!