Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Nature of Trials

I really enjoy the memory app on Facebook. You know--the one that shows you what you posted on that day in previous years. It brings a smile to my face to look back on memories, some of which I may have forgotten. Sometimes it's a sweet picture of the kids, sometimes it's a funny memory of something said or done, sometimes it's a word of encouragement from a dear friend, and sometimes it's a reminder of the Lord's amazing faithfulness. It's good to remember our history. It reminds us of mistakes made, lessons learned, and victories won. It reminds us that seasons come and seasons go. It reminds us of what is truly important in life and often brings fresh perspective.

Recently some of the memories showing up on my Facebook have been bittersweet. There was a picture recently of Benjamin as a newborn in the NICU, hooked up to oxygen as I touched his tiny hand.

There was also a post about me passing long hours in his hospital room following open heart surgery and my longing to hold my baby in my arms again and bring him back home.

On the day the heart surgery memory came up, I was in need of some fresh perspective. Summer's are difficult for Benjamin. Though he has been able to attend an Extended School Year (ESY) program through the school system, it is only for half a day, and it does not last the duration of the vacation time. He doesn't do well with the change in routine from the school year. He gets bored and frustrated at home, leading to extra whining and sometimes more aggressive behaviors. Many days are just plain hard, and I can feel my frustration mounting. However, when I was reminded of the difficulties of my son's first shaky months, my perspective began to shift, and I was filled with gratitude for my beautiful, miracle boy, and the privilege it is to have him with me. In that moment I dropped whatever I was doing, found my son, and just loved on him for awhile.

In the midst of these memories, I've been considering the nature of trials. No person is immune from seasons of hardship, some great and some small. Ultimately, though, that's what they are--seasons. It's hard to keep this in mind when we're in the middle of the turmoil. It's hard to see anything beyond our own present pain. It's fresh, it's raw, and it's real. It often feels all-consuming. In the latter half of Psalm 30:5 we read, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning," (NKJV).

When Benjamin was fighting for his life as a newborn in the NICU and shortly after when his little body was fighting to recover from open heart surgery, it was difficult for me to see anything beyond the hardship and pain. I didn't have the awareness of what the future would hold. I didn't know that in eight years time my overwhelming trial would be a memory on my Facebook feed, reminding me to pause and give some extra cuddles to my healthy, growing son. I couldn't see the beautiful chaos of my life today with three happy, loud, energetic, and beautiful children I am privileged to call my own. 

However, there was one thing I did have even on the darkest of days--HOPE. I had hope because Jesus is King. I had hope because Jesus is Savior and Healer. I had hope because Jesus is the eternal Lover of my soul. I had hope knowing that He is always with me, and I never have to walk anything alone. I had hope because my God is good, even when my trials would try to scream otherwise. I had hope knowing that whatever the length of season, my trials are ultimately temporary because I am of the company of those redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus with the promise that one day, "...God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away," (Revelation 21:5).

It is true that trials come and trials go. Seasons shift and change, often completely out of our control. This present season will also one day become a distant memory. The future will undoubtedly hold both joy and pain. In every season, though, whether full of difficulty or delight, I want to maintain the proper perspective. In every season, I want to live with the constant reality of my deep need for Jesus. This whole life is temporary, but God is eternal. And because Jesus lives, I can have hope at all times!

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