Hi everybody! I know I’ve been MIA for over a week since my last post. Chalk that one up to recovering from a NASTY case of the flu. The sneezing, coughing, fever, and everything else definitely sucks. But the worst part, at least to me, is having absolutely no energy to do anything. Other than sleep and try to recover. But compared to 2-3 days ago, I feel so much more healthy, and well-rested. And happy. I had gotten away from reading my devotional and Scripture, but today’s passage in the devotional gave me some encouragement and hope to look at my life in a different way.
I’m not going to lie. I have been struggling in my faith a lot over the last 2-3 weeks or so. I will always believe in God. I know He is there. But when I do not know where He is trying to take me, I don’t always see Him as the kind, all-good God that I know Him to be. I start seeing Him in a cynical, darker light unfortunately. As if I am forced to go somewhere I do not want to go. Or as if I am forced to suffer and try to be patient at a certain point in life until He conveniently decides my trials in that part of life are over. There are times He has frustrated me and angered me.
When I opened the devotional to today’s reading though, that mindset was shattered by one saying, and I am paraphrasing “Rejoice in the Lord, even when you don’t feel any joy.” That resonated with me. Perhaps it’s because I often feel like in order to be happy or truly rejoice in God, I need to be having one of those days where I am stronger in my faith. When the exact opposite is actually true.
When we look at the obstacle or trial in front of us in a negative way, it’s very easy for us to get discouraged, cynical, mock God, and give up. I’ve done it. Whereas if we look at any obstacle in front of us as God’s way of building us up by testing us, it actually strengthens our faith in Him. It gives us an extra reserve of patience, strength, and enables us to say, “Okay God, you’ve brought me through my past trials even when I didn’t think I’d make it. Give me the strength to make it through this current one.”
I don’t always look at all the trials God has brought me through. But He has brought me through many. Two surgeries. Fitting in as a kid, teenager, college student, and man with Cerebral Palsy. Two college degrees. Deaths of family members over the years. Missing an ex girlfriend something fierce, and learning to be happy with singleness after being in a committed long-term relationship. Now my biggest hurdle still lies in front of me: Finding a job that makes me truly happy. I had been looking at this hurdle all wrong. I looked at it as a place where I am stuck. Where there seems to be no end in sight to the search.
But when I consider who told us to “Rejoice in the Lord always,” I realize my problems and trials are minuscule. Saint Paul himself tells us to rejoice in God always. Even in our trials. If he could still rejoice in God in spite of being thrown in prison, beaten severely, mocked for his faith, starved, and eventually martyred, I can rejoice in God in spite of still being where I am in life. I have no excuse for not having faith if Paul had faith.
I also found when I look at my trials as obstacles to be conquered with hard work on my part, and with God’s help, rather than as immovable roadblocks, I am also happier with my life in general. I don’t know why this is, but I love the newfound feeling of peace and certainty it brings! I know I did not live almost 29 years to stay stuck where I am. I certainly will eventually find a job that fits my skill set, and that allows me to serve other people with the gifts God gave me. Until then, God is teaching me to rely on Him and be patient.
And in the same way, when you struggle in whatever trials life is throwing at you, God is asking you to turn to Him. Besides, who else, and what else do you have when your own skills and breaks run out? Humans are funny creatures. We always like to think we can control everything, and plan everything out. But that often blows up in our faces.
So I’ll end with Saint Paul’s words. “Rejoice in the Lord always.” He only wants the best for you, and loves you more than anyone possibly could. And the life He gave you wasn’t always supposed to be easy. But it IS supposed to be worth it. Every trial in your path is meant to strengthen you, and give you opportunities to find God, return to Him, and glorify Him.