I’ve been reviewing 2013 often in my mind lately. When this year began, I had great anticipation for the new year. I always do. Many people do! There’s something cathartic about a new calendar, a fresh start. Conversely, there may be apprehension as we wonder what will come to pass, what lies ahead. Hopefully as believers, we’ve been taught to rest in the truth that our God is in control. However, in the emotion of waiting and wondering about what may happen or what actually does happen, we can get “trials, tests, and temptations” mixed up.
Trials are difficult life events that inevitably come to everyone as we sojourn here on earth.
Tests are difficulties God sends to reveal the depth of our character and increase our faith.
Temptations come from the enemy of our souls in an attempt to destroy us, our faith and our peace.
What lay ahead for me came in three events, in this order: my father’s bout with life-threatening pneumonia, my husband’s cancer, and my oldest son’s (and his wife and 3 of my grandchildren) physical move 3 hours away from us. Right now this very day my dad is well and playing golf, my husband is cancer-free and fully recovered in every way, and my son preached in his new church yesterday. God’s grace multiplied thrice.
I really want to share some things I’ve learned (and quite possibly have just been “refreshed” with) on my journey so far this year…both spiritual lessons and practical ones.
- God is good, always good, and I know without a doubt He loves me with an everlasting love.
- Grace isn’t stored up. You don’t receive grace for tomorrow’s trials. His grace is sufficient and always on time. Always.
- God doesn’t bring about temptations, but He does allow trials and tests. Even Jesus endured testing (God’s Word sustained Him.) You’ll be the better for whatever it is because God can and will use it for His glory in your life.
- Don’t be hurt when people go on with their lives even though you feel your world crumbling. We can’t be all things to all people and shouldn’t expect that of others.
- If you do need something, ask for help specifically and then let people help you.
- A strong marriage is one of God’s greatest gifts. Keeps me centered. I’m so thankful God healed my sweet man.
- Lifelong friends are wonderful.
- A card in the mail is a balm to the soul in a world of email, Twitter, and Facebook.
- Praying is a lifeline.
- Worship is wonderful – you worship from a different place.
- A book entitled “The Power of Crying Out, When Prayer Becomes Mighty,” is powerful.
- Your emotions will lead you astray. Vain imaginations. Conjured up conversations. Stick to the truth. God’s truth. Walk in the Spirit.
- Stay focused, get alone with God.
- Remember who the real enemy is. Remember that he is defeated.
- Get some rest. You can’t take care of others when you’re fatigued.
- A church family is another one of God’s greatest gifts. I really mean it when I ponder “what do people do without a church home?”
- It is pure joy to have a family that will come through and show up and help and be there. My sons and their wives and sisters are the best.
- Life is but a vapor (James 4:14), enjoy God’s daily gifts, pick your battles.
- Grandchildren remain pure therapy for my soul. Even though three of the five are no longer close by, they are alive and healthy and their daddy and momma are following God’s call. What a legacy of faith.
And just as surely as God has given three of the best outcomes to my three trials, He would still be God and He would still be good if there were different outcomes. Yesterday at church we had a guest pastor preaching, Dr. Ron Lynch. He shared a quote by Major Ian Thomas:
“You can’t—He never said you could—He can, He always said He would. So let Him.”
God gave Major Thomas this message through Galatians 2:20 (Amplified Bible):
I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Lord Jesus, I can’t—You never said I could—but You can, and always said You would. That is all I need to know.
ALL I need to know.