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Finding Hope in Hard Seasons



The other day I got up bright and early like I do every morning. Well maybe not so bright at 4:30am but you get my point. I immediately made a hot cup of coffee. (THANK YOU GOD FOR COFFEE BEANS!) Scarfed down half of a banana and laced up my running shoes. I knew that morning would be different when my feet hit the floor. My running buddy would be out of town so I would have to pull motivation from within myself in order to keep pace and run the distance. Nothing a pair of AirPods and a good playlist couldn't handle.



About 3 miles in, I noticed a slight pain in my left foot. A half mile later, that slight pain had turned into a big pain. My mind began to race over what to do. I wasn't done yet! I hadn't reached my goal! I could have stopped. It would have been easier to stop. In fact, some of you reading this right now are probably thinking it would have been wiser to stop. But as you can guess, I didn't stop. I decided to lean into the pain and I began to pray. Of course I prayed over my foot but I also prayed over those suffering in this season.



After another mile of praying and worshipping, I noticed I couldn't feel the pain anymore. Now don't get me wrong. The problem didn't necessarily go away, but shifting my focus on God in spite of the pain did something to me that I can't explain beyond divine assistance. This experience caused me to reflect on other things that have weighed heavy on my heart this past season. Feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression have been all too common amongst so many. Churches struggling to rebuild post-pandemic. Entire children's ministries being wiped out leaving discouraged leaders left to pick up the pieces. Families being forced to say goodbye prematurely to loved ones. All manner of illness, feelings of anxiety, and exhaustion fighting to eclipse the Christmas joy we hope to experience in this season.



If you have struggled this past season, I pray that you would hear my heart behind this blog post because it is precisely moments like these when we must remember to count it all joy.



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


As hard as it is, these dark hours are what God uses to refine us, and if we will lean into the pain, we often find that he will reveal himself in who he's called us to be in the midst of it. And when the pain seems too much to bear may we remember God who is...


  • The Refiners Fire


  • The Launderer's Soap


  • The Master Gardner Pruning the Branches


In all of these capacities, God must apply some heat, some pain, and some manner of refinement in order for his perfect will to be done in our lives. As much as we hate to admit it, like Paul prayed, we too must yearn to know him in the fellowship of his suffering. Pain forces us into the bosom of our Heavenly Father and reminds us that apart from him we are nothing. Sickness pushes us into the secret place of his presence, and trials reinforce our absolute dependency upon him. It's in the wilderness, lion's den, and desert place that he sustains and carries us through the hard times.


Even now as I am writing this, my foot is in pain. It is currently being elevated and serving as a visible reminder that when I am weak he is strong. It is my prayer this holiday season that no matter what trial, or challenge you are currently facing, that you would remember there is always purpose in our pain and that God will waste no tear.


I am praying for you!


Esther




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