KNOWING THE PROCESS
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:3-4 (NLT)
Rejoicing when trials come is not my first response. Nope. I will usually react with a much stronger emotion that puts focus on self rather than focus on God. I am always about my comfort, while God is always about molding me into the woman of God who looks like and acts like, His Son.
When I hear the word endurance, I picture an athlete who has put in the time and training to be the best. Grit, commitment, pain; character qualities behind endurance. Endurance speaks of long distance, a slow process and lengthy journey.
In our fast-paced society, endurance seems to be saved for the elite – ones who are determined to go the distance. Many of us are satisfied with the drive-thru window, while God wants us to make it at home and invite family and friends. “Come and sit a while,” God speaks to us. But how many are listening?
Being still and knowing He is good (Psalm 46:10) is hard work, and so is enduring. It takes bold focus to keep going to the end. And, whether we like it or not, sometimes we do not have a choice on the length of the race; rather our choice lies in our attitude during the marathon.
Hence, one can see why endurance develops character.
In the darkroom of life, God is doing a work. A poem is being written in our life, complete with cadence, beauty and meaning.
Character in turn grows into confident hope. A good question to ask ourselves would be, “Am I hopeful?” And: "Do I have faith to believe God will do what He says He will do – even in the trials and the suffering? Am I confident He will see me through? Will I come out on the other side deeper in character and faith than when I went in? Will I trust that this suffering is indeed a tunnel rather than a cave?"
Having endured over two and a half years of unique suffering, I can say I am running a marathon, not a sprint. And the problem was, I never wanted in this race to begin with. But here I am. Am I allowing God to develop in me strength of character and confident hope that in turn point back to endurance? Or am I just putting in the time hoping it will one day soon end?
The answer to that question, does at times, vary. Most times I am ok with the refining process He is doing, but others…I admit I gripe.
This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them, I will say, “They are my people,” and they will say, “The LORD is our God.” Zechariah 13:9
As God refines me, will I say, “He is my LORD, my God?” Will I allow Him access to the deepest part of who I am to remove the dross and the impurities of my heart, mind, and soul? Will I put up a fight, kicking and screaming all the way? Will I recognize the strength He is growing in me to endure the suffering He is graciously giving me as an opportunity to know so I can have fellowship with His Son in this manner (Philippians 3:10)?
Honestly, these thoughts are uppermost in my mind lately. I have added another layer to the recovery process. Did you know that one can pop out a shoulder tendon because of broken feet? I didn’t, but it turns out it is, indeed, possible. Because I need to wear my hiking boots all day long – and yes that includes all night long – turning over in my sleep is challenging. Most people will use their legs and feet to do the rotisserie turning, but I am the zebra who is using her shoulders to turn over this pancake. And somewhere along the way I undid a tendon in my shoulder. It occurred 3 weeks ago, and my life took a definite turn (pun intended).
I was miserable, and had the feet and now shoulder, to contend with. Sleep became elusive as the shoulder pain woke me every early morning at 2:30 am. Nice alarm clock – I wouldn’t recommend it though as it wakes one up rather groggy and grumpy.
Up to Coach we went. Usually, my husband will take me, but life has gotten really busy this season, so my soon-to-be son-in-law offered to take me. As of yet I have not driven more than 20 minutes at a time and definitely not on the freeway for more than a few exits; hence the need for a chauffeur. Little did I know what awaited me.
If you’ve ever had a tendon put back in place you would understand. If not, don’t get yourself in that predicament. Out of all the times Coach has worked on me, last week took the cake, frosting, ice cream and all. I have only cried a few times in the clinic, but this time I could not help myself. I needed to and I needed a hug as well – instead I got a box of tissue to sop up the tears. The trauma from that visit still is fresh on my heart and my mind.
Is this what Jesus meant when He began growing endurance in me? Is He growing my character to one that glorifies His Father and testifies to His grace? Is Jesus building my hope into strong confidence in Him and His redemptive work on the cross? Is God doing a work in me that will show the watching audience He is for me, with me, in me and is using me to give Him glory in the hard, hard stuff of life? Is He allowing me to see that He is enduring with me as I endure in Him? (John 15:4)
Oh Father, life is hard at times, but it truly is in these times we see who You are – magnificent, glorious, worthy, holy, and good. I thank You for being the master Refiner and for caring more about my sanctification than my comfort. Please don’t stop, even when I beg You to. Because I want to reflect You in all areas of my life. In the name of Your precious Son, Jesus. AMEN