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    Faith Suffering

    Considering it Joy

    So the long story short is that recently after my husband’s quarterly doctor’s appointment it was recommended that he should be hospitalized to help improve his lung capacity score. He has Cystic Fibrosis so this happens every few years.

    In order to facilitate a hospitalization our family has to relocate to Minnesota for the duration of his stay which usually lasts about a month. For various complicated and uncomplicated reasons, these hospitalizations never feel fun. They are expensive, exhausting and emotionally draining.

    We are about 2.5 weeks through this current hospitalization and morale is suffering, especially the last few days after we found out that his scores were not improving but were in fact going down. At this point I honestly just want to eat thick-crust pizza filled with gluten and sleep, and all my children want to do is whine and cling to me while simultaneously begging me to buy them every shiny thing they see.

    So with this in mind, today I happened to look over at my dresser and see a verse that had been written on a piece of paper sent to me by a friend.

    The verse begins “consider it all joy..”

    It made me think “what is it that we are to count as joy? Is it the suffering or the heartache?  Is it the pain that we are dealing with?”

    No, I don’t think it is. I think the joy is found in the opportunities amidst the pain, heartache and suffering.

    It is the opportunity to dive deep:

    Deep into real, messy relationships with people.

    Deep into the real, messy emotions and thoughts of ourselves.

    And deep into a real and messy faith in God.

    Opportunities usually never fit into our designated timelines. Yet because we view them as positive we make room for them and celebrate them.

    However, trial or suffering also presents itself in the same way. But because they are often abrupt and messy, they are not celebrated the same way; they often feel painful and disorienting.

    I think that even the most disorganized and carefree person has a rhythm to life that allows them to feel grounded. But sometimes the Lord allows those tethers that ground us to be clipped leaving us feeling like we are uncontrollably drifting and unsure of everything surrounding us.

    This sense of being out-of-control can strip us of our sense of understanding and placement in our family and community.

    What is the purpose of this? Does God truly want to isolate us?

    No. Absolutely not.

    I believe that the intent of the Lord in the midst of this season or circumstance is to strip away from us anything that grounds us, other than Him. This clipping of familiarity allows us to see His character clearly without distraction. This gives us the opportunity to trust Him and receive peace directly from Him.

    This is why we must see our hardships as an opportunity.

    The verse sent to me by a friend begins this way. “Consider it all Joy.” I think when we read that scripture we have the tendency to go straight to the concept of joy and start wrestling through our definition of joy and what God means. Yet I think the most powerful word in this verse is the very first word.

    CONSIDER.

    i.e. Think carefully, contemplate, count it, believe “IT” all Joy.

    That “It” is the season or the circumstance you are walking through.

    Here is the truth.

    The way we approach these painful experiences determines our peace in the midst of them.

    The enemy would like us to believe that we are isolated and that no one understands or cares. However in actuality, if we let Him, God will use this as an opportunity to draw us closer to Him — allowing us to experience peace beyond our circumstances.

    My charge to you is to dive deep. Deep into relationship with people, deep into your own heart, and ultimately deep into your relationship with God.

    Celebrate these seasons. Allow the Lord to show you His opportunity in the midst of it.

    Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

    -James 1:2-4

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