Well, once our fantasy turned to reality and I discovered that raising a brood was far more difficult than what I had anticipated I began turning to my own inner strength to try to get through difficulties. I basically ditched God because He was allowing difficulties to happen in our life, and being good Christians we were taught early on that all good things come from the Lord. Well, if all good comes from God, then this bad stuff happening must be coming from Satan, and if this is the case then where on earth did God go?
Boy, was my theology messed up... As Lori and I jumped over one hurdle after another we could see our marriage slowly fading to frustration and difficulty. I turned my focus to work, church ministries, and myself rather than turning my heart to God. I came to the decision that I just wasn't doing enough good things for God and that must be the reason why He seems to have disappeared and all of these difficulties were occurring. After a couple of years of being too tired, too frustrated, and too ticked off we were encouraged to meet with a woman who was a counselor and minister of prayer. She lived about 8 hours from our place and had a beautiful home she uses as a bed and breakfast. Couples could meet with her for a weekend, get ministered to, well fed, and intensely work through some of the struggles they have with their relationship with God and each other. This weekend changed our lives.
The turning point for Lori and myself was that we realized God is not a God who hands out cotton candy and balloons to all the good little boys and girls at the playground of life. We discovered the God of the universe that weekend. He is the grand creator and has a wonderful plan for our lives, which is to bring glory to Him in all things. Whether it be through suffering, hardship, blessings, or trials, His purposes will prevail through it all. Once we came to terms with the fact that we saw God as someone who we tried to control and used Him as our wish maker rather than our God, our lives changed in a moment. God's love for me and my wife was far greater than we had ever imagined up until that weekend. We, for the first time, saw God in our suffering and struggles as well as our blessings. We felt Him when Lori was going through cancer treatment and a few other times, but we didn't have that daily communion with God because we were looking at Him through the wrong eyes.
Coming to know God is a daily practice. When we meet someone here on earth and want to get to know them we spend time with them. Same goes with God. To know and truly understand Him we began to spend time with Him daily. Through our daily walk we have discovered a new perspective to Him and His goodness to us in all situations. The main change that came in my life through this weekend retreat and years of daily study is that God doesn't disappear during moments of affliction and suffering. Just the opposite really. When I began to look at our difficulties as being used by God rather than being because God was not present, I was able to face and endure them.
- Job 36:15 "He delivers the afflicted in their affliction, And opens their ear in time of oppression.
- Psa 119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.
- Isa 48:10 "Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
- Mat 16:21 From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.
- Php 4:12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
- 2Co 1:4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
- 2Co 4:17-18 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
- Php 1:29 For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
- 2Ti 1:8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,
- Luk 24:26 "Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?"
- Rom 8:17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
- 2Ti 2:3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
I encourage you today to embrace suffering and hardship as a tool for God to bring glory to Himself and a way to shape our character. He is there to comfort and bring strength during our struggles and if we embrace Him rather than reject and blame Him we will see his glorious peace come upon us during our times of difficulty.
Lord, I thank you today for the struggles that you have placed into my life. Even though they are difficult to face alone, I know that you are with me. Your rod and your staff will comfort me. You have shown me Lord that you are ever present in my struggles and I give you praise not for you taking away my struggles, but for helping me endure them. Please help me to be faithful to you in the midst of them. Amen