I’ve spent many hours this year scrapbooking my kids’ childhoods. A treasure trove of memories, but often bittersweet because along with great experiences come hard times. Trials and tests. Times when spiritual muscles and faith strengthen, or we forget the infinite greatness of God and lose heart completely.
God often allows trials in our lives to test our faithfulness and love for Him. Naturally, as humans, we fail many times. And when that happens, our merciful and patient Father stands by, ready to reteach and retest.
But think again. Does God really need to test us to know our level of faithfulness? Our love? Not at all. He already knows our every thought and motive of the heart.
Perhaps, instead, He tests us so that we might recognize our level of faithfulness. Or lack, thereof. That we might examine ourselves and make changes accordingly. That we might pray as King David prayed in Psalm 139:23: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”
The greatest trial in my life … Six years ago my sweet husband went to live with Jesus. At the time, I couldn’t fathom how I could ever be truly happy again. How time could ever make life easier. How I could ever miss Greg with less intensity.
But God has proven Himself true to me over and over as my Husband. His presence is there when I ache for companionship. His strength when I want to give up. I literally talk to Him all day long about everything: problems, pleasures, and plans. I don’t know how God works the miracle of healing in times of loss, but in His time, He does.
One of the beautiful spiritual muscles God has developed in me since Greg’s death is that of empathy, deep compassion, and an ability to pray fervently for those left behind when a loved one dies. To pray with fervency that comes only from knowing the relentless, suffocating pain that accompanies such loss. To stand in the gap and believe, with real hope, for the future of my dear friends. For beauty from ashes.
And I realized that this God-given empathy was—in a tiny way—the very sort of empathy Christ feels for us as we journey through the ups and downs of life. He knows. He understands. And He offers real hope for our future.
I wonder what kind of trials you’re dealing with in your life today. God came that we might have life. Eternal life. But abundant life in this world as well. Life in Him, knowing that He is always there for us. That all we need to do is to draw near to Him, and He will draw near to us.
Recently, we celebrated Christ’s birth. With that in mind, I pray that you might take time to rededicate your life to Him, that you might know Him more intimately than ever before in the year ahead. He has so much to offer!
Barbara E. Haley
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Barbara E. Haley
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