I had a realization this week that surprised me, so I’m sure it will surprise you.
I don’t mind when times are tough.
Note that I didn’t say I like it. I don’t pray for it. But, when it happens, I don’t mind.
Whether it be tough financially, physically, relationally, whatever, I’ve truly come to appreciate whatever comes my way.
I’m sure you either don’t believe me or you’re wondering how, so let me explain.
If we didn’t have tough moments, if we never had those situations where you didn’t know how things were going to turn out well, we’d never need God.
One of my favorite Bible passages is from 2 Corinthians 12, where Paul is talking about how the Lord kept him grounded and humble. He was given a “thorn in his flesh” that the Lord would not take away:
“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
– 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (emphases mine)
“My power works best in weakness.”
If we are never weak, helpless, humbled, we may never see the Lord work powerfully in our lives.
It is SO countercultural to celebrate weakness, but I have to admit that I like Paul’s way of thinking far better than that of our entitled, power-hungry culture.
And perhaps my favorite passage in the entire Bible (at least these days):
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:4-13 (emphases mine)
In this passage, Paul gives amazingly wise advice about how to live as followers of Jesus in this world. He mentions joy, gratitude, contentment, deliberate thought focus, and reliance on the Lord for strength. All of these things are difficult and take practice and effort, but what does he say is the result? PEACE.
I blogged recently about how we’ve been going through a tough period financially due to unexpected major expenses that drained our emergency fund and have left us wondering how we’d make it through the month. I wrote this post before I knew how God was going to come through, but knowing that He would. I waited in anticipation (while also doing whatever I could to sell things and put effort into a solution) because I knew that He would come through. And He did (see this post).
I’ve realized that I actually look forward to seeing God work in difficult times because I’ve seen Him come through time and time again. This doesn’t mean that I want bad things to happen, but when they inevitably do, I have a confident hope that God will come through, He will provide, He will use this for good.
Do you know freeing it is to take God at His word and actually live like it?
I’ve just been finding this out in my mid-thirties (which I truly believe has been my best decade yet, despite the horrible trials that have come our way).
Do you fully trust that God is going to come through? Are you willing to be tested in this way? I pray that you can discover this freedom and the peace that comes along with it. I’m so glad that I am learning to embrace it!