I’d like to say I learned a lot in 2016. That it was a stellar year that changed my life. That I’m eager to embrace the exciting new opportunities God’s prepared for me in 2017. But I’m not sure that would be completely true.
2015 ended with two of our three sons unemployed and my husband suffering a nervous breakdown while I silently battled depression. I’m not one of those people who thinks a pastor’s family should be immune from calamity but, for the most part, our lives had ticked along pretty smoothly—until then.
God acted quickly on behalf of our sons. My husband, however, got worse. Frighteningly worse. His three months of paid sick time stretched into four months sick leave which morphed into indefinite long-term disability.
We turned 60 in 2016. We didn’t own a home, had no serious retirement plan and, as a stay-at-home mom, I had no career for us to fall back on.
James 1: 2-4 says:
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
I think, for us, 2016 qualified as a trial. And as unappealing as developing endurance sounds, our trial has done that in both of us as we
- prayed for strength.
- prayed for God’s provision.
- prayed for wisdom.
- prayed for his healing.
God has come through on the first two in spades. I am daily awed by the obvious plans He had in place—which I knew nothing about. His leading has been gentle, gracious and complete.
He’s brought us to a new place—both physically and metaphorically—and He’s meeting our needs with an abundance I could never have imagined.
I honestly don’t know why He is doing this for us when so many people in this world struggle and suffer. And when I read what I’ve written I am astounded at how dire our 2016 sounds because truly this ‘trail’ hasn’t seemed that bad to me.
Perhaps it boils down to realizing this:
Trials are created to help us to grow faith and fruit.
They’re not to make us braver, stronger, smarter. I might even suggest they do the opposite because, at the other end of the spectrum from courage, strength, and understanding, where we are uncertain, weak and confused, God is at His best.
In the midst of our darkness He is leading. What a marvel that is!
Jayne Self writes mysteries as she tries to understand the mysteries of life.