We are on our way to a mini family vacation out of town and it is stop and go traffic on our major highway. With my hubby at the wheel and the kids half asleep in the back, I decided to get caught up on my morning devotions. I have just started a new devotional plan "Grief Bites" and as I read, these words jumped out at my from the page "finding treasures in hardship."
I stopped to ponder these words thinking about my own life and the circumstances I have had to walk through over the 40 something years of my life. I asked myself "Have I found treasures in my hardships?"
I looked out the passenger window, glancing at the slow moving vehicles and their occupants and I wondered what hardships have they encountered and were they similar to mine.
Exactly what is hardship?
According to Webster dictionary hardship is "...a condition that is difficult to endure."
"..something that causes or entails suffering."
As outlined in my devotional reading, hardship can include the loss of a loved one, loss of a job or financial status. It can be a divorce, a marital affair, illness; a list too long to include all.
For me, life became difficult at an early age. It started with the death of my father when I was nine years old, leaving behind 3 other younger children and a pregnant wife. My siblings and I were then separated, first from our mother, then from each other, all this within a month after our father's death. Though my siblings and I were reconnect with each other several years later, we were never truly reconnected to our mom. This lead to a childhood of emotional and psychological trauma, all the while dealing with issues of loss and abandonment.
I entered my marriage ill-equipped to deal with the present while still struggling with issues of the past. I found myself in a place where I needed to walk through the healing process from fear and feelings of inadequacy and the negative impact these issues have had on my life and my loved ones.
Often times, life will take us places we would not readily choose for our self and often times, much of what we encounter makes very little sense to us.
Again, I pondered "Have I found treasures in my hardships?"
Yes, most definitely and some yet to be unwrapped. I have discovered that most treasures are not found on mountain tops but in deep caves and on ocean floors, places of utter darkness. Places where heat and pressure has been applied, over time, to create both beauty and value.
One of my favourite bible verse is found in Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
This verse is a constant reminder to me that no matter what I am going through, or have experienced in the past, God can and will use it to bring out the best in me. In this I have learned to trust in His sovereignty and I have gained the courage to embrace and pursue His purpose and plans for my life.
It is in those dark places, of trials and pain, I get to see who God really is and learn to seek, trust and grow in Him.
Billy Graham's daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, says it best in her book, I saw the Lord, "Sometimes God wraps His glory in hard circumstances or ugly obstacles or painful difficulties and it never just occurs to us that within those life-shaking events is a fresh revelation of Him."
How profound is this truth!
This tells us there is, indeed, a beautiful treasure to be found in every painful event and in every uninvited hardship, if we are willing to take the time to look for it or ask God to show it to us.
I relaxed into my seat still staring out the window. Yes, my life has certainly had some hardships but they have been used, like a pair of pliers, to open up my heart to see God's glory and I'm a better person because of this. For me, there is no greater treasure than seeing God's glory being manifested in my life.
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