Ann Voskamp again.... "Real prayer has eyes on Christ, not the crisis." and "No one enters into the real joy of the Lord in spite of the hard times —- but squarely through the door of the hard times." and "God uses everything to call us out of apathy."
Those were the words that echoed to me when I read her post titled, "When You Just Want God To Show Up & Answer Your Prayers." What she said. All true. I think we all wish for the easy road, but don't spend nearly enough time remembering that it's the things we fought for that mean the most to us. The things that cost us are the things that become deep-seated treasures. I'll never forget what my dear friend Julie (who passed away 9 years ago) once said when we were speaking over the phone of trials and the ways of the LORD. She said, "Just because it's a rough road, doesn't mean it's the wrong road." So many times, we think that if we encounter difficulty in our path, we must be doing something wrong or going the wrong way when, in fact, just possibly God is using it to build our character, develop perseverance, or draw us closer to Him. Why is it that we fight doing hard things? I think it's because somewhere we're believing the wrong thing. Believing that God isn't trustworthy or that it's too difficult for us.
Lately, however, the more I've done my homework this summer in the Beth Moore "James" Bible study, the more I've been faced with the truth. God uses suffering to bring a better ending. I don't understand how anything good can come of my son's death, yet I wonder if God doesn't perform a bit of chemistry in these incomprehensible life experiences, mixing trials in the beaker of His Sovereignty and changing devastation into beauty.
Through God's Word we can know that these sorrows, trials, and temptations are not designed by a God intent on making us suffer. They are filtered by the hands of the Almighty who, because He so loved the world, gave us His one and only Son. He is the master refiner who never turns away from His work.
While we are in this world, Jesus assured there would be trouble. But He also said to take heart because He has overcome the world. We are to have peace in Him, not in our circumstances. Happiness relies on circumstances. Joy relies on Christ. I especially love the definition that Kay Warren uses in her book, "Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn't Enough." Kay states: "Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God."
Honestly, it was easier for me to believe and praise God early on in this grief process. As time has passed, however, I am finding it harder to do. I believe there's a reason the Bible intentionally says to "offer the sacrifice of praise."(Heb. 13:15; italics mine) It takes, as Kay said, "a determined choice." I'm not as surprised now by the verses in the Bible that talk about "contending for the faith" (Jude 1:3) and "fight the good fight of faith." (1 Tim. 6:12)
Nothing will challenge your faith, develop your endurance, and redefine your joy like the loss of your child. I continue to grieve the loss of my son on this side of Heaven, but take joy in knowing that some day God will finish the work He began, both in me and on this earth.