Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Grateful Heart: The Hard Times

One of my characters in my current novel-in-progress, Carter Price, is an FBI agent who is drawn into the lives of two young doctors when they find themselves in the midst of a terrorist attack. I'm not sharing the actual events because I want you to be surprised when you read it for the first time, but many terrible things happen. After all, what is a suspense novel without suspense? 

At one point, Carter says, "It's a good thing all this happened..." Those who took the brunt of the attack are not so sure, but Carter reminds them of all the good that came from their trial.

In a way, of course, I'm writing from my own life. When I look back at the hard times, I find that they were more than simply difficult. They were a drawing ground to bring me to Christ. They were a refining fire to burn out the impurities in my life. They were a training ground for a woman of God. 

Hard times will come to us all, but, if we allow them, they can be much more than something to survive. 

I read the story of Jacob this morning and found something I'd never noticed before. God appeared to Jacob when he came from Paddan-aram. He blessed him and changed his name from Jacob to Israel. Jacob, however, was still Jacob until he encountered one of those hard times.

His beloved wife Rachel, for whom he worked fourteen years for Laban, was pregnant with Benjamin. They were on their way to Bethlehem (Ephrath) when she went into labor. The child was born, she died, and was buried. Circumstances spiraled out of control. Tragedy struck when Jacob least expected it.

Genesis 35:20: "And Jacob set up a pillar over her grave..."
Genesis 35:21: "Then Israel journeyed on..."

The man Jacob watched his wife die. The man Jacob buried his wife and set up a pillar over her grave. The man Israel rose from that grave and journeyed onward. In the midst of his suffering, Jacob was transformed.

In one tragic moment of grief, Jacob became the man God intended him to be.

The question is not whether hard times will come, but in what way we will respond when they arrive? Will we allow our circumstances to mold and shape us? Will we allow the refining fire to burn out the impurities in our lives?

Just for a moment, let's take a look back at the hard times we've encountered. How were they used to make us better, more like Jesus, than we were before? 

Hard times will come to us all, but they can be much more than a trial to endure. If we allow it, they can become the defining moments of our lives. 

Hard times can become the place where we become the man or woman God created us to be. 

"In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:7 nasb

In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links:  Persevering for ParisResisting EvilPraying for PeaceAnswered Prayers in Disguise,  Grateful Heart: Mizpah, Nigerian Nightmare, and Grateful Heart: Maggie Protects her Master

The most read post of the last week: Praying for Peace.
photo courtesy of #blessingofadversity #trials #hardtimes #disciple