It’s in the trials that we often find our strength.
We hear those sorts of statements regularly and all too often, write them off as trite or unrealistic, but in the following paragraphs you will find a marker; a call to arms; a stand. Not only do I believe in the opening statement with every fibre of my being, but I refuse to accept anything less.
2014 has not been straightforward. I have experienced more rejection over the course of the year than any other in my lifetime. Some days have been excruciatingly lonely. Many others have been filled with the stress of the unknown. Still others have seemed to overflow with a sense of dejection and helpless agonising over the decisions that got me to this point. After all, it’s too late to go back! There is a good chance that the majority of people reading this will relate to one or more of these feelings I’ve experienced this year – and more than likely to an even greater extent.
I like to think of it as emotional weightlifting. Almost exactly a year ago I found out that I was going to be made redundant. A huge emotional weight was placed onto the bar I’m holding and I’m grateful to be able to say that though I struggled, I did not buckle. It made me stronger. With each trial throughout the year, I felt the emotional strain increase, but remained firm. In true British fashion, I was determined to keep calm and carry on. Due to a number of factors in the last few weeks, the weight became almost too much to bear. It forced me to my knees. There are, and I imagine will always be times when the strain feels insurmountably great. But thankfully, it is not my strength that I am relying on.
You see, I serve a loving God who has a plan and a purpose for me (Jer 29:11; Eph 2:10). When my trust and delight is in Him, He will make a way where there seems not to be one (Psa 37:4; Pro 3:5-6). This God; my LORD, is my strength (Psa 28:7; Neh 8:10; Phi 4:13), and therefore where these weak, buckling knees would fail on their own, with the Lord I can stand firm! I will not relent under the emotional strain of the personal trials I face, but revel in the joy of who He is, what He has done for me, and what He continues to do in every day of my life. Though I may be weak, my God is strong and I will stand firm.
There will be times where, like Job, I will struggle. There will be times where I will want to hide and times where I toy with the idea of giving up…but I will not. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9:
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed,but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
There is a Kingdom to strive and more importantly, a King to serve. As such, I will not give up. I will not be afraid or discouraged, for in a glorious juxtaposition, the Lord I serve supports me while I strive to do so (Josh 1:9). I will push for faith in the presence of adversity, tenacity in the face of troubles and prioritise gratitude for immense blessing over sorrow in struggles. This is a call not just for me but for all of us not to give up.
Despite this year of trials, I simply cannot and will not overlook the dozens of wonderful families who have invited me into their homes, the overwhelming kindness of strangers, the exceptional generosity and insight of friends, the opportunity to learn full-time and see the world, as well as the excitement of an adventure forged out of a decision to stop focusing on my will and to start focusing on God’s. A year of emotional weightlifting has made me all the stronger in Him and I am ready push forward in 2015. Bring it on!