Through the years, I’ve heard many people give testimonies of how God has worked in their lives through the struggles they have faced. So often I have heard someone state, “I would gladly go through it all again because of all God taught me in the process.”
I don’t know about you, but that’s not me. My life looks more like one of those movies where someone has been taken hostage and is being interrogated. When the captors realize that the person won’t talk, what do they do next? They find someone the person loves and threaten to hurt THEM if the person doesn’t talk. It’s one thing to remain strong and steadfast when it’s your own life at stake – and something completely different when it involves those you love. In the movies, that's when even the strongest give in and crumble.
And that’s why I can’t say I would gladly relive all that I’ve been through these last 10+ years. Because it has involved watching those I love suffer. No, I would not choose to relive it all. I’ve said before that you couldn’t pay me a million dollars to do it all again.
Am I thankful for all I’ve learned? Yes! Do I cherish the ways I’ve grown? Yes! Am I thankful for how much my faith has increased? Absolutely!
However, I’ve also experienced just how difficult this life can be. As I write today, it’s the five year anniversary of the surgery to insert my son’s feeding tube. I am also preparing to attend my grandmother’s funeral. My mom passed away January 2016 after an 8 year battle with cancer. Her dad followed in April of this year, and now my grandmother not even 4 months later. Three funerals in a year and a half. And these aren’t the only things I’ve faced. They are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more. The moments that rip out pieces of your heart that you never quite get back.
And I know it’s not just me. I found out just yesterday about another high school friend going through an excruciating trial. This in addition to the others I know who are living with children or spouses with chronic diseases or illnesses, death of loved ones, strained relationships, and more.
Not long ago, I was sorting through old photos. I looked at those faces – 20-30 years younger than today. I think of the things they have faced since – and still face today. If I could go back, what would I say to them to prepare them for what was to come?
I would tell them this… Press into Jesus. Draw close to Him and decide beforehand that you will trust Him no matter what comes your way. Determine in your heart that, “Though he slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15). And even more than that, whatever the “though He” may be, I will continue to trust, follow, and serve Him no matter what. Proclaiming like the three men about to be thrown into the fiery furnace, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18). And like the popular song says, I will do this “even if”… Even if my loved one is never completely healed this side of heaven. Even if this trial never ends. Even if it rips my heart in two. Even if…
Why? Because this life is not about me, my wants, my desires, or even my happiness. Because I have died, and my life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). Because I am a living sacrifice, no longer conformed to this world (Romans 12:1-2). Because I am taking up my cross and following Him (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23). Because I’m losing my life in order to save it (Luke 9:23-25). Because His grace is sufficient, and His power shines brightest in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
And the greatest why of all? Because I want God to be glorified in my life – whatever form or shape this may take. The mountains and the valleys. The victories and the tragedies. My life is His to do with as He pleases. And though He _____, I will hope in Him.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” ~ James 1:12