We can’t really know how strong our faith is until we have an opportunity to exercise it. And it’s not as if we go out looking for these chances, because most of the time these chances come in the midst of pain. Many of us mosey along in life—we read our devotions, do our work, and care for our families on a surface (though genuine) level until something unforeseen stops us in our tracks.
And since we’re on this side of Heaven, that “something unforeseen” always appears sooner or later, doesn’t it? Whether it’s a lost job, a death in the family, a strained relationship, or a scary diagnosis, suddenly life is more complex than we ever imagined, and we wonder how we ever walked so casually through life before. We wonder how everyone else can keep walking so casually through life while we’re pouring all of our energy into managing our crisis situation. How can life continue on around us? At first, it feels indecent. Cold.
But then we center our focus back on Jesus.
The clouds part, if for the briefest of moments, and we’re able to see our Creator walking alongside us. Holding us, even. We realize we’re glad life is carrying on around us—it gives us hope that normalcy (whatever that means) may not be completely out of reach again for ourselves.
We realize that, while we’ve claimed to be faithful followers of Jesus all along, now is our chance to embrace it. To heavily lean into our faith. To draw near to God in ways we never could have imagined otherwise. We feel his tangible presence and his deep peace envelop us as we take the next step and face the next day, and we know—we know—we aren’t doing this alone. Not just in a “Jesus loves me, this I know” sort of way, but in an intense, raw, going-through-this-wouldn’t-be-possible-without-Jesus sort of way.
We fall at His feet in prayer and in worship, knowing that He’s big enough to change our circumstances and acknowledging that His ways are so far beyond us that he indeed may not. We remind ourselves over and over again that His plan is always best. Even when we don’t understand. What peace there is, knowing we don’t have to understand.
And while we would, of course, never choose the difficulty we’re facing, we draw near to God in such a way as to find some semblance of joy in the midst of the heartache. It sounds like a contradiction, but it’s not. Joy isn’t dependent on circumstances. It’s dependent only on our level of connection to our glorious Creator. Joy in the midst of pain is illogical and impossible to explain. But it’s real. Oh, but it’s real.
So we pray our way through our difficulties, managing what is in our control here on earth and heavily leaning on God along the way. And our faith—our relationship with our Creator—will never be the same. And for that, we’re thankful.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1:2-4