We are on our way to a mini family vacation out of town and it is stop and go traffic on our major highway. With hubby at the wheel and the kids half asleep in the back, I decided to get caught up on my devotions. I’m not a morning person, so it was much easier burying my face in a book than carrying on a conversation. This way if I had to zone out periodically I wouldn’t offend any one.
I’ve just started a new devotional plan “Grief bites” from YouVersion and as I read, these words jumped out at me from the page ‘finding treasures in hardship.’
I stopped to ponder these words thinking about my own life and the circumstances I’ve had to walk through over the 40 something years of my life. I asked myself
“Have I found treasures in my hardships?”
I looked out the side window, glancing at the slow moving vehicles and their occupants and I wondered what hardships have they encountered and were they similar to mine.
That thought brought me to yet another question…Exactly what is hardship?
According to Webster’s dictionary, hardship is “…a condition that is difficult to endure. Something that causes or entails suffering.”
I looked down at my devotional plan and considered the different hardships life can entail.
It seems every where we turn there is sadness and pain. We turn on the television, and the daily news is most times devastating to say the least. The person sitting beside us on the subway system, in the church pews. Others in our work places, our neighbors, our friends….on any given day someone’s world is rocked by divorce; disobedient or wayward children; loss of a loved one, to cancer, to suicide. The reality of which can be devastating and overwhelming. We give hugs, lend a shoulder to cry on and offer words of encouragement. And life goes on.
But what happens when we are not the spectator?
What happens when we don’t get to walk away with a promise of “I’m so sorry. I will keep you in my prayers.”
When it is our world that gets dark and filled with feelings of hopelessness and despair and it doesn’t seem that “all things work together for good to them that love God.”
Those times when we come home and close the door but we can’t close out the loss, the emptiness and wish we would wake up and it would all be a nasty dream?
My darkest moments started at an early age. I was 9 years old when, along with my siblings, witnessed our father and our home on fire. A fire that claimed his life less than 48 hours later. He left behind four children and a pregnant wife. My mom was carrying my father’s only son. Due to family issues, my siblings and I were then separated, first from our mother, and then from each other. All this within a month of our father’s death.
Though my siblings and I were reconnected several years later, we were never truly reconnected to our mom. This led to a childhood of emotional and psychological trauma, all the while dealing with issues of loss and abandonment.
I entered my marriage ill-equipped to deal with the present while still struggling with issues from the past. I found myself in a place where I needed to walk through the healing process from fear and feelings of inadequacy and the negative impact these issues have had on my life and my loved ones.
One of my favourite bible verse is found in Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Often times, life will take us places we would not readily choose for our self and often times, much of what we encounter makes very little sense to us. Especially when we consider that God is a good God…why the suffering, why the pain? Why me?
This verse is a constant reminder to me that no matter what I am going through, or have experienced in the past, God can and will use it (if I allow Him) to bring out the best in me. In this, I am learning to trust in His sovereignty and, thus gain the courage to embrace and pursue His purpose and plans for my life.
It is in the dark places, of trials and pain, I get to see who God really is and learn to seek, trust and grow in Him.
You see, I am discovering that most treasures are not found on mountain tops but in deep caves and on ocean floors, places of utter darkness. Places where heat and pressure has been applied, over time, to create both beauty and value.
Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, says it best in her book, I saw the Lord,
“Sometimes God wraps His glory in hard circumstances or ugly obstacles or painful difficulties and it never just occurs to us that within those life-shaking events is a fresh revelation of Him.”
How profound is this truth!
So indeed, there are beautiful treasures to be found in every painful event and in every uninvited hardship, if we are willing to take the time to look for it or ask God to show it to us…even while in our darkest moments.
I relaxed into my seat still staring out the window. Yes, my life has certainly had some hardships but they have been used, like a pair of pliers to open up my heart to see God’s glory, to draw near to Him, to trust Him more, to rest in His presence.
Yes, I have and continue to find treasures in my hardships. I pray that you too, in your darkest moments, will find priceless treasures.
Come on, let us journey together by faith today. God bless you!