Chasing Sunsets (When Trials Come)
Originally posted on July 23, 2012.
Have you ever noticed how God knows exactly what you need right when you need it?
For example, today was an overwhelmingly difficult day for me, and I cried so much that I legitimately had to put tea bags on my eyes to reduce swelling (for the record, I have never been so grateful for baseball caps). There are days when you simply want to disappear and make the world forget you ever existed -- and today was one such day.
Yet, as I lay in bed listening to Joni, there came a text message from one of my best friends. Trivial thing, really... until you factor in not seeing her since April, or that this has been one of the loneliest summers I've ever experienced, or just needing a friend at that moment in time... and then, you see, it becomes far more than trivial.
This summer has not turned out as expected. As a matter of a fact, it's been almost precisely the opposite of expected. I had all these goals and aspirations set up, and then... BOOM. Everything changed. Almost dying does that, you know? Your perspective shifts. Things start to look different.
"Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." - Romans 5:2-5
I am in the weirdest place right now. Halfway grown up and halfway still that little girl who hid in a book for the first eight years of her life... and it is impossible -- impossible -- to figure out where to go from here (Why has no one written an instruction manual on this business? Talk about a best-seller.).
But even in that, I see so many unexpected blessings. I mean, good gravy, I am blessed. I have a job that I absolutely adore -- and I love my coworkers. I have a small group full of girls who love me and care about me and pray for me and are truly some of the loveliest, most Christ-seeking young women I've ever known. I have this pen-pal who somehow understands my heart like no one else does. I have opportunities to sing, and write, and take pictures, and laugh and play and live... and the list continues on and on.
I stated earlier that this is one of the loneliest summers I've ever experienced -- and that's not a lie. Too much work, too much being sick, and having two of my three closest friends totally out-of-reach makes for lonely with a capital "L"... and that was me in every single way. Then, seemingly out-of-the-blue, God put Elisa in my life, and the Bible study girls, and the folks at work... and suddenly, things weren't so lonely.
Funny how suffering leads to hope, isn't it? And right in the midst of it all is character -- becoming the people we are made to be.
If this summer hasn't been one of character-building, I don't know what is. Looking back on the past month is like looking through years and years of archives -- because so, so much has happened to change my heart... and is still happening, for that matter. I don't know that I can honestly say that I enjoy the process of character-building... but in the end, if I'm being sculpted into that woman that God designed me to be, it's worth it.
I suppose the point I really want to get at is this. It is so easy to let myself get disheartened... but in the midst of this life, God has blessed me beyond comprehension. Trials happen and they suck. But even when they do happen, there's still so much hope to be found in the little things, you know? God provides.
There is too much beauty in the world to dwell in the valley. Too many sunsets to miss. When trials come, remember that there is hope in the glory of God -- and all you have to do is chase a sunset to see it. Blessed.