In Trials on
22 August, 2013

Breathe: the struggle is not wasted

field-summer-sun-meadow

Let’s be honest: it’s been an awfully silent summer.

It’s not that I haven’t been writing—oh, I have definitely been writing. God has been doing a wonderful work in me and showing me things I know other people need to hear. But at the same time, I have fearfully kept my mouth shut and avoided the “publish” button more than once.

That’s because deep down, there’s a part of me that’s been saying all summer long, “You can’t publish those posts, because then you’ll be a hypocrite.” There’s a piece of me that looks into the mirror and only sees flaws and mistakes. And I think to myself, “How can I tell the world what I’m learning, how God is changing me, and then wake up the next morning and continue to sin?”

So I hold my breath, refusing to say what needs to be said, and the posts continue to lay stagnate in my “drafts” folder.

Until today, that is.

Today I’m choosing to breathe.

And it’s so good to breathe.

It’s so good to realize that God uses the broken, the messy, the chipped and cracked pots, as my mentor always says. He uses His children just as they are, and He makes us into something beautiful for His own glory when we surrender to His will.

The truth is, I can write and not be little-miss-perfect. I can blog and still have my struggles. Because when I struggle, and when I write about it, two things happen:

1) It grows me.

2) It allows me to share the hope I have in Christ.

And when those two things happen—when I grow and write in the midst of a struggle—the struggle is not wasted.

Did you hear that?

I said, the struggle is not wasted.

Do you think Paul would have made as much of an impact for the gospel had it not been for his initial hatred of Christians and subsequent salvation? Do you think Joni Eareckson Tada would be touching so many people with her testimony, sharing the gospel and giving God glory, had it not been for her paralysis? And do you think, without his greatest struggle of losing his family, Horatio Gates Spafford would have given to us the most timeless hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul”?

1873, Nov. 22 – Dec. 1
While progressing across the Atlantic ocean in the middle of the night, the luxury steamer Ville du Havre is mortally damaged in a shocking collision with another vessel, the Loch Earn, under starlit skies. The Spafford party and a group of ministers who befriended them on the ship are among the passengers who gather on deck as the Ville du Havre is sinking. After life boats prove too few or unuseable, the majority of those aboard the vessel die in the disaster. The four Spafford girls, their governess, and their family friends are lost. Anna Spafford is among those rescued from frigid water. In all, some 232 perish in the shipwreck. Anna is among the 87 who survive, 60 of whom are officers or crew. She and other survivors are transported to safety aboard a passing cargo ship, the Trimountain. Upon reaching shore in Cardiff, Wales, Anna telegraphs the tragic news to her husband in Chicago that she among their traveling party is “saved alone.”

circa 1873
Horatio Gates Spafford writes the lyrics for the popular hymn of faith and consolation, “It Is Well with My Soul.”

[Source: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/americancolony/timeline02.html]

itiswell

Here’s the thing about trials: we’ll never really know whether we’d be the same people we are today without the difficulties we’ve gone through in the past. However, we can know that when we are obedient and surrender our hardships to God, and when we worship Him in the midst of whatever is happening, He makes all things work together for our good [Romans 8:28]. That doesn’t mean our circumstances will change and that our lives will be perfect, but it does mean our hearts will change and we will become more like Jesus in our suffering. Christ also suffered, and He persevered so that we might have eternal life [Hebrews 5:7-10].

And this also is true: it’s my job as a follower of Christ to share the hope I have been given by encouraging others and comforting them with the comfort I have received [2 Corinthians 1:3-5].

Right now, I’ll admit this: my struggle isn’t over. I am still actively being changed by God. And I—along with my selfish, discontented heart—am getting on my knees regularly. I’m a work in progress, and I’ll never fully arrive while I’m on the earth. I’ll never be the perfect Christian.

This blog is my journey, and publishing my posts is my way of inviting you to walk alongside me and grow with me. That being said, earlier this month, I began the 30 Day Gratitude Challenge, and it is truly transforming my life. If you’re reading this and you’re going through a trial–or even if you’re content with life right now and things are great–I’d encourage you to push yourself and actively practice thankfuless by participating in the challenge. I promise it will transform your heart and renew your mind!

It certainly has done the same in me. Looking back, I’m thankful for this silent summer because it has given me a new opportunity to unclench my fists, let go and trust in Christ every single day. Plus, I’m excited about the posts to come…

Until next time,

Jen

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3 Comments

  • mymansrib

    LOVE. this.
    And HIS work.
    And YOU.

    22 August, 2013 at 9:37 pm Reply
  • brianwilliamsen

    Hey Jen, it’s great to hear from you. (I tried leaving a comment earlier but I think my little iPod thing didn’t work right when I sent it so if this is a duplicate, my bad!) It’s nice that you’re able to get some good perspective from everything and to see the good in it. No doubt God is working for your long-term favor here and I’m glad to see you’re finding peace with what’s been going on. Be blessed and have a good day!

    23 August, 2013 at 10:52 am Reply
  • AdjustedSails

    amazingness! God called me to more silence with Him 4 weeks ago…specifically, chilling on the fb posts n tweets (i used to tweet/post my thoughts frequently)…i was still responding to the Word in YouVersion notes, but even that He told me to stop a few weeks ago…He’s since released me to at least respond via notes..but wow..during this time, He’s spoken so loudly! it’s been amazing n i don’t have room enough to share here…silent summers r awesome when it means hearing God’s voice above my own 🙂

    23 August, 2013 at 2:36 pm Reply
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