Trials in our lives are an expression of God's grace toward us, a means of developing grace in our own lives, an opportunity for God's light to shine through us in a greater way. As much as I want all of the previously mentioned characteristics to be true of me, I'm not sure I really want to experience trials in order to get there. The culture I am surrounded by says that suffering is bad and must be avoided at all costs. It says that life should be about being happy because we deserve it!?! Even the language from one of our country's founding documents gives us the idea that life is all about pursuing happiness. I would contend this is not a Biblical perspective at all. But frankly it sounds a lot more appealing than the call we find in scripture to die to self and daily take up our cross and follow Christ.
As I face challenges in my life I'm not looking for the grace of God toward me or developing grace in my own life. I whine and moan. I ask "why me?" I pray for God to change my circumstances (usually in this order - I could at least pray first even if this may not be the right direction in which to pray). But as I look at the challenges our family has faced over the past 10 years I do see these graces emerging in our life. I see the grace God has shown to carry us through and ask more of us than we ever imagined possible and then equip us to follow His leading. I see two amazing kids who have grown up in the midst of these challenges and as a result have a spiritual maturity that often blows me away. I am so proud of the people they are becoming and I don't believe they would be the same people without the trials in our life.
I still struggle with my daily responses to the challenges before me. I am so quick to complain and question instead of looking for God's hand at work. So I am pressing on to know my Lord more - to truly experience His heart, to know that I know that I know the abiding love He has for me. It amazes, and honestly sometime discourages me that even after 20 + years of walking with the Lord, I still have so much further to grow. The depths of God's Word and His character will take all of eternity to grasp - would we really want to serve a god that we could fully understand? What a truly awesome God we serve!