In Lucy Maud Montgomery’s book, Rilla of Ingleside, the heroine, who has spent two years of her young life living through the hardships of war, is asked whether she’d like to change those difficult years.
“’No,’ Rilla said slowly, ‘I wouldn’t. It’s strange, isn’t it? They have been two terrible years, and yet I have a queer feeling of thankfulness for them–as if they had brought me something precious with all their pain … I suppose I had a soul then, but I didn’t know it. I know it now and that is worth a great deal–worth two years of suffering. And still, now, I find that I don’t want to suffer any more–not even for the sake of more soul growth–even though at the end of two years, I would probably look back and be thankful again for what they would have brought me, but I don’t want it now.’
‘We never do want difficulty,’ said her friend, ‘That is why we are not left to choose our own means and measure of development, I suppose. No matter how much we value the lessons we have been taught, we don’t want to go on with the bitter schooling.’”
This passage put a finger on my heart today. I feel validated when I see that others share some of the feelings of my heart, as in this story. Though we sometimes in our hearts find a feeling of dread at having to face difficulties, we can still be spiritual and godly. We were made for rejoicing and happiness. If we rightly understand that trials cause us to suffer and we find that we don’t want to suffer, we are only feeling what Jesus felt … “Who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2).
It helped me so much to realize that Jesus despised the shame, but because He knew He would redeem mankind and be seated with the Father, He went to the cross anyway. Feelings are natural–they are God-given. However, what we do with our feelings will determine our obedience and show our faith. We can acknowledge feelings of sadness, dread, or anger. But then we must give those emotions into His hands and say, “You know what is best. I will trust You in whatever You do.”
Some time ago when my family was going through a difficult, troubled time, I was driving home with the girls. I had time to have some discussion with the Lord, and decided what I needed was to make some resolutions specifically for that season. A resolution is a determined commitment, an act of my will to decide in advance how I will behave and obey the Lord. That resolve doesn’t mean that my intentions won’t be tested, but it does give me a plan for how I will live and helps me to address, ahead of time, those areas that could be problematic. It also helps me fight against Satan’s desire to tempt me to despair or not to believe in God’s goodness.
I resolved that I would not allow my heart or mind to go down the road of fear–that I would reject any fearful thoughts by choosing to worship and focus on God’s wonderful faithfulness and trustworthy character.
I resolved that I would be a strong pillar of faith for Clay in the midst of all he has to hold together. I will not whine, complain, or falter unnecessarily in the midst of his hard work and commitment to figure out how to keep supporting our family. He needs me to “smile at the future,” like the woman in Proverbs 31, because of Who is in control of my future.
I resolved that I would make this time a blessed season of great memories—warm soups, candlelight, inspiring stories of heroes in other times, cards of encouragement to friends who need them, phone calls and phone prayers with my boys who need support and encouragement in the midst of their financial difficulties, Bible studies and life-giving words sent to all whom the Lord brings to mind--simple efforts spent in eternal areas that will minister to the hearts of my precious family and friends.
I resolved to think of new ways that Sarah and Joy and I may serve others during these days. As we plan to be God’s hands and voice and words, it gives us a way to be about God’s business and to perceive the strategic role Christians can play in the lives of others.
By allowing God to define my vision for the trials ahead, I have a roadmap to follow; to guide my steps, guard my attitudes, and inform my will. As I walk in the power of His Spirit, invest in the Word, and make time to pray, I have been energized and excited to know that there really are things I can do to help during difficult days. I have ways to give hope and opportunities to bring life. The Lord has renewed my heart and made me excited to start living according to some of my plans. I already know that these years will be an opportunity to show what my heart is really like–that I really do love and believe that God will hold my hand and show me His ways. May He grant each of you grace in the midst of your own journeys!
To take your study deeper today, take a few moments to complete the reflection and application below.
- “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven ...” Ecc. 3:1 Are you facing a particularly difficult season right now? Remember that God has appointed every season of our lives. He is able to help you and prepare you for what’s next.
- “Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11 What resolutions can you make in advance that would help you be prepared to make good decisions regarding your emotions, actions and intentions when the pressing times come?
- How will you intentionally find and create beauty in your life during this season?