I’ve heard folks say, and I guess some really believe it, if you experience hardship , you aren’t in God’s will. I am confused by this mentality. Never mind that Scripture says, “In this world you will have trouble.” Nobody wants it on a greeting card, but hey….
That brings me to think for a moment of the areas in life that I have had difficulties and obstacles. My children, my family, my church, my friendships, my life, my marriage….they’ve all had, at one point or another, some level of challenge, difficulty, turmoil, chaos, or pain. And I would dare to say, each of them are a part of God’s will for my life. How can someone say that my children or my church or my life is not a part of God’s will? Boggling.
Anyway, in 2008 my husband and I knew God was getting ready to change things up for the Reynolds’ crew. With open hearts and anticipation, we moved from Iowa to Virginia. I look back at a few rare journal entries and feel such sadness for that girl who wrote with such excitement. I want to warn her of all the pain that is about to blow through her life in a matter of months…..for years.
To say we faced challenges is a gross understatement. Wave after wave of loss and turmoil rolled over my family. I was working hard to help the children transition well, but I could feel the strain and the tearing of the fibers in my home and, more specifically, my marriage. I could feel the fabric of our marriage stretching to bare. We were functioning at some level, but we certainly were not thriving. There was a lot at stake so we just kept moving….one foot in front of the other. Hardships come. Opposition rises. And marriages crumble.
……love never gives up. It’s certain….we both had misfires, misunderstandings and unmet expectations. There were hurt hearts and wounded pride. But, we didn’t give up. It was probably the lowest of lows for us. But, we kept on.
……love cares more for others than for self. My husband was the rock we all needed as we wandered in the Shadowlands. He was strong and tended to us and led us as a fearless leader. We gladly followed. It was the aftermath of the abuse that drew us together emotionally as a force to be reckoned with. We rallied as a team and circled our wagon. We worked together to help bring healing to our broken family. Even though we felt weak and vulnerable, we were a team.
…….love always trusts God. My husband always pointed us back to Christ. Even in the hardest hard or darkest dark. Yes, our faith was shaken and all we knew was rocked to the core. But, this man, my love, led us back again and again to Christ. He didn’t have all the answers and didn’t pretend to. But, he knew that God could be trusted….even when it doesn’t make sense and we can’t see His hand. Glenn gave me room to question and even scream and yell. He held my hand and understood when to let me cry. He cried with our boy and grieved for the loss. But, he led us back, over and over, to Christ. “Follow me while I follow Christ.” He didn’t know where it all led, but we would follow Christ.
……love never dies. Goodness. What a statement! Do our dreams die? Do our hopes and expectations die? Do people and marriages die? Yes, yes, and yes. But Christ living in us does not die. Christ living through us does not die. This is our hope! God is love. If we have him living in us, we have his Love living in us. My husband demonstrated love by continuing on with this broken mess. He led us to forgiveness. My sweet love gave sacrificially to help us on our journey to healing. He trusted God’s love even when his own doubts were doubling by the day.
He will cringe at finding out I wrote my blog around him this week. He’s not a self-promoter. Nor does he like my flattery “out there for the whole world to see.” But, then again, those are other traits of love flowing in my man. I could go on and on. But I will end with this. Love isn’t shallow or flighty. It isn’t selfish or easily drawn away. And if you have any experience, you know that some days it fires hotter than others and some days you love because that is what you committed to do.
So, for those taking notes, in this world you will have trouble. Lots of it. And it doesn’t mean you are out of God’s will. But you do walk out of God’s will when you forget to love. If you truly love, you work through it. You work through the bad, the ugly, the broken, the inconvenient, the harsh and the lean times. It’s what you do with the trouble that counts.
If you do it right, you end up with the amazingly beautiful,
the whole, the blessing,
the joyful and the abundant.
Everything can be conquered with love.