(If you missed the first two parts or are just visiting our blog for the first time, you can find them here and here.)
We ended yesterday touching on the subject of patience. Ahhh, yes, patience. A word every mother would love to have more of, but is afraid to ask for, in fear of the ensuing trials that seem to come along with it. Mmmmhmm, you know what I'm talking about. The light-hearted joke of praying for patience and to be cautious of it?? More than likely you have heard this at some point in time in your life. Let's take buying a new house for example.
Who wouldn't be excited to embark on the purchase of a new home? And by new, I mean that it could be brand spankin' new or "new to you" home. Either way, it's very exciting. Now, lets say you put your house on the market to sell. You spend weeks getting it spotless from top to bottom, cleaning every nook and cranny and finally it's listed! You make sure the laundry and dishes and toys are picked up every single day in hopes the next family that views your home will snatch it up, and at the asking price to boot! But...
it doesn't happen...
You become discouraged. You start to feel hopeless and think that maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all.
So you turn to God. I'm not saying you haven't turned to Him before this point, but now you turn your whole self to Him. Every thought, every action, every word, you give to Him. Everything. You place all your trust in Him for the house to sell in His time. And then, one day out of the blue, your realtor calls and says a family is interested. Instead of dreadfully and begrudgingly picking up and tidying before they arrive, you have a renewed sense of joy. You actually look forward to seeing what takes place. Then it happens. God's mercy and grace is shown, your patience pays off and the family chooses to purchase your home..and wouldn't you know, at the asking price plus they offer to pay closing costs!! Praise God!
This is a hypothetical situation, but one that I am sure has happened to many families in some form or fashion.
And this is why some are so hesitant to pray for patience: because in order to produce patience, you must endure trials (problems, trouble, etc.). It's a process.
"because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience. Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need." James 1:3-4
I really love verse 4. "Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need." I underlined "Then" because it's only AFTER we endure troubles that we are given patience, and AFTER we allow patience to show itself, THEN will we have everything we need. Again, it's a process.
"May the Lord lead your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s patience. 2 Thessalonians 3:5
And through this process, we have hope.
"We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. He gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us." Romans 5:3-5
All that we endure is not wasted. God would not simply allow us to "go through the ringer" and not use it for our betterment, the betterment of others and ultimately, His glory. No, He uses whatever situations come our way for good!
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 KJV
Once all the refining has been accomplished and we have a renewed and beautiful spirit, we are not to let it go to waste! It doesn't end here. God wants us to use the learning experience, as well as the grace and mercy that He has shown through it all, to be a comfort and blessing to others!
He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us. 2 Corinthians 1:4
We know first hand that some trials in life seem too much to bear at the time; death coming to mind first. God promises in Matthew 5:4 "They are blessed who grieve, for God will comfort them." And yet another in Psalm 30:5b "Crying may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning." We experienced the fullness of these two verses back in 2010 with the loss of one of our babies, our precious Alexander. We were only 16 weeks pregnant with him and I can tell you that at that time, I couldn't see HOW ON EARTH God could use that horrible experience for anything good. Deep down I knew that it would ultimately glorify Him, but it was too much to bear.
Or so I thought.
It didn't take long for Him to begin softly speaking to my heart and telling me "I love you, I'm here for you. You won't have to battle this alone. I will give you my peace and my comfort if you will let me." Believe me...I didn't hesitate. I suddenly felt a tremendous peace while still in the hospital. I was comforted knowing that our baby was in His hands and was much happier there.
And that is where my healing began. I asked God to use me and that experience to be a blessing and help to others, regardless of how much it might hurt to talk about it or even think about it. It wasn't but just a few short weeks after our loss that I received a phone call from a long time church member and friend of mine. A couple in her family had just given birth at 39 weeks and the baby was stillborn.
Ohh how my heart grieved for them! How it ached!
A flood of memories quickly came pouring back and all I could picture was this mother, weeping and sobbing over the loss of their precious baby. They knew Christ, they knew Who was in control and they knew their baby was in God's hands. But my friend had called because she wanted to know what she could do to help her family members; what had helped us through our difficult time? I voiced my advice and what had been a huge help to us and she thanked me and we hung up. Standing there after that phone call, the realization that God had just used me for HIS glory, brought me to my knees. With a tear stained face I praised God for His promises, for allowing me to be a small part of His plan and for the opportunity to help someone else who had just experienced what we had just a few weeks prior.
God kept His promises. He faithfully saw us through our darkest time and even chose to bless us again with another beautiful baby boy in 2011! And if that wasn't enough...He has blessed us yet again with a baby girl who is due this June!! God is merciful and will bless us as He sees fit if we simply allow Him to use us.
Rest assured that God can and will use our trials for His good, IF we allow Him to use us as a vessel. You will find that weeks, months or maybe even years pass then one day, you are called to be a comfort and blessing to someone who has just experienced or is experiencing the same thing you did. If you have allowed God to use you for His glory, this calling will be a great one, one in which Christ is altogether glorified!!
"You have patience and have suffered troubles for my name and have not given up." Revelation 2:3
And so I will close with this: our work is never done. We must never be complacent. God's plans are intricate. Therefore we must persevere and be "full of joy" in every trial that comes our way, whether small or large, for we are called by Christ to do so. It is most definitely a growing experience.
"I know what you do. I know about your love, your faith, your service, and your patience. I know that you are doing more now than you did at first." Revelation 2:19
We are, after all, a living sacrifice. :-)
"So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship. Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect." Romans 12:1-2
I hope you have enjoyed this Bible study. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and sharing in our experiences. If you have any comments or experiences you would like to share, I invite you to do so! We would love to hear from you. And remember, we are here to encourage and build up, so please keep the comments prayerfully considered and nice. :-)
My prayer for you is that you would be blessed beyond measure until your cup overflows!
May God richly bless you!