When I walked into the kitchen I could instantly see what my toddler had had for her snack. Yogurt covered everything from the refrigerator door to the table. My little girl herself, was covered head to toe. It seems no matter what children are doing, or eating, they end up wearing it! Play-doh, markers, mud, chocolate, it is easy to see what their last activity has been. While messy and a little frustrating for parents at times, this is all a necessary part of learning and growing.
I thought about this recently when I heard a pastor warn against not becoming what we are going through. He said that even among Christians it is common to relate the biggest issues we are facing in life when talking to another person. And then we might add a pathetic, “pray for me,” at the end of our tale of woe. He was reminding the congregation that it is actually in the hard times that God grows us the most. The valleys and deserts are not fun, but if we are paying attention and learning the lessons God is trying to teach us in those times, we can come out on the other side more mature and strengthened in our faith.
This was so encouraging to me. There are actually times when I am going through something difficult when I want to talk about how good God is being, how loved I feel. I honestly don’t know how to say those things for fear of surprising someone! It is not a matter of ignoring circumstances or living in denial. Instead it is choosing to live in the glorious reality that even as my Heavenly Father is allowing me to be stretched in ways that are anything but comfortable He promises to never leave me or forsake me. He is right there in the dark holding my hand reminding me that unlike children, I do not have to become what I am going through.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” Psalm 23:4
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” I Peter 4:12-13