When I reflect on the year of 2011, I can see so many hard times but so much we learned through them. Last evening as I sat crying and telling Mark all about these trials. Trials after trials, things that seem bigger than life sometimes. Then I started looking back to my whole life, a life that seemed to be filled with challenges. I commented to him that a lot of these trials were much bigger than most people experience. He looked back at me and said NO. He said, our trials are so small. Small compared to what others have experienced in history. He reminded me of the Native Americans that were on the Trail of Tears. How they were forced off their land with nothing, they walked to Oklahoma, and 2/3 of them died on the way. Suffering that was real. Then he told me about the Medieval times, the times of persecution of true believers, the torture, the death, the plagues. Another story he told was that of China, and all the genocide and starvation. He looked back into my eyes, and said, we are spoiled here in this time to think we have it bad, when we have it so good. Even if we loose our home, we would be able to find a home to rent and scale down. We would not be freezing in the streets, starving. It was so humbling for me to listen to his words of wisdom. I felt like a child that is whining because life isn't going the way I would have liked it to go. I cried for my daughters health troubles, my constant pain, feeling there is no let up in the way of trials for our family. I wanted to know why Christians who see us would be afraid of us because we have these trials that they feel are spawned from Satan, instead of lovingly coming up alongside us. Instead, close Christian friends stay away, talk behind your back. I wondered since when did Jesus teach us to behave that way. My loving husband held my hand and said, "Their faith is small yet. They have not been through enough valleys to experience the fullness of God's mercy and love. They do not know how to handle trials, they do not want to listen to yours, they are comfortable. God doesn't call us out to be merely COMFORTABLE, He calls us to walk through the valleys and come out more than conquerers in HIM. Life is where our faith is tested." I wanted to know when the test would be over, when could I have a break, and my husband said, "Until the day you die, you will be purged and tested and pushed to the very end of what you seem tolerable, so that when Christ's work is fulfilled you shall be changed into something so precious, so thankful, so humble, so beautiful, and your worth would be so much more to Him in His Kingdom." I learned that I have so much to be thankful for. So much more than I ever realized. I feel that I am a failure so many times over, but I am learning that my husband is a Man among Men, a heavenly leader, one who can take my brokeness and carry me lovingly to our Savior.
And now, I will have a blessed day, I will enjoy the fellowship of my 5 children, we will bake some cookies, read some stories, and pray for others who have needs. I want to teach my children the way my husband is teaching me, to love others more than ourselves, to be patient, to be merciful, to be kind, to be a light to others around us no matter how dark our path becomes. We sometimes only have each other, when the world is cold and unfriendly, but that is a true blessing. The more people you have in your life, the more complicated it can become. But the greatest thing we do have in our home, is Salvation in Jesus Christ. The most precious thing of all, we have HOPE.
I pray you will all be encouraged in some way today, knowing in your trials, you have HOPE, too. Maybe you do not have it easy, maybe you are facing financial distress, illness, or death, but take heart because this life is so short, may you have courage to remain in your Faith to the end with renewed HOPE.
"We glory in tribulations also: Knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: and Hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Romans 5:3-5