Patience--the ability of bearing up under trials without complaining When I travel and speak, whether in church venues, mom's groups or homeschooling conferences, I often meet personally with women who want to share what is on their heart. I am often amazed at the loads that so many people bear. As a matter of fact, I see that so many of my beloved friends have a continuous stream of trials and difficulties in their lives. Clay and I also seem to have lots of issues in every season of life. At this juncture, I find myself dealing with health issues with several in my family (has been a constant over the last 20 years)--which always means lots of bills and doctor's appointments. We also have big financial issues--with the ministry, with our children and with our home---new projects, book publishing, staff issues; cars, insurance, and college and room and board, and summer projects and lessons issues with each of our older children as they attempt to make ends meet and we attempt to help them; family issues with our relatives; and as our moms get older and on and on. Some of these areas of our lives have lived with us for many years without let up and often years of prayers have yet to be answered.
So, also, as I have lived life and observed the lives of those in Biblical times and my friends, I have indeed come to the conclusion (many times!) that burdens are a part of living in a fallen world. With the immorality and lack of Biblical foundations, so prevalent in our culture, finding companions and friends and appropriate life styles for our adult children has been an issue for them and for us. How we long to be able to see them settled with like-minded, spiritual companions, but it seems to be common with others their age that we meet all over the US. The falling economy and expenses of gasoline and the rising costs of food are an issue to everyone I know. This is reminiscent of the days of Christ when the Jews so struggled with the oppression of the Romans and their many taxes. Of course, some of the disciples (the zealots) were looking for immediate reprieve--a kingdom on earth. They wanted a "Shangrila" on earth.
I have been led in my own life, lately, to study the concept of patience and steadfastness and perseverance. It has been so enlightening to me personally. I will probably write more later, but just thought I would put down a couple of things I have been learning.
First, I went to the passage about "God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him, and to those who are called according to His purpose." The verse just after this indicates how God works things together, "For whom He foreknew, He predestined to become conformed to the image of His son."
Working together for the good seems to be bound up in training us to be holy--(God disciplines us that we may share in His holiness. Hebrews 12:10) He clearly doesn't not have the short term getting everything we want in mind--but our character--knowing that our ultimate happiness is dependent on our ability to love the things that are eternal and really satisfy and learning not to depend on the temporary things that keep us from depending on the Lord.
I met with a young mom this weekend. She had been abandoned by her husband and left with three small children to raise on her own. Having been raised in a very conservative Christian family, she had been shocked by her divorce, having never considered that it would happen to her. Having been through almost ten years of fending for her own and seeking to make ends meet, she was at a new point of attempting to work at home, so that she could be with her children even more. However, it was her vibrant and resilient spirit that drew me to her.
"I look back over the past few difficult years and am so thankful for my life. This journey has broadened my soul so much. I appreciate God's love for me more; I have so much more compassion and understanding for other women who have struggled that I never had before; I have a broad-based ministry to moms like me that is more than I could have imagined; and I feel like I really depend on those eternal blessings that really satisfy me and my children than looking to things and experiences to fulfill my life. God has indeed been good to me."
Her beautiful, light-filled eyes and joy greatly blessed me. She saw God's hand and presence behind the burdens of her life. I am learning to see God's shadow behind all that is in my life. He has used it all so faithfully over the years, but I did so need to see the eternal benefits of Steadfastness. A verse before I go. (Joy and I and a friend of mine and her daughter are going to an overnight in Denver to celebrate girl's time together to celebrate her 13th! Shopping, giggling, eating together and swimming. Then Clay will take her out to bless her with a give me your heart talk and dinner date alone with the presentation of a beautiful ring while I am on my way to Sacramento!)
And may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ. II Thes. 3:5
Now, may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Jesus Christ. (May we encourage and give one another life-giving words of perseverance!) Romans 15:5 Love and grace to you all! I am off to enjoy chocolate cake with my sweet ones! Sally Sally@wholeheart.org