Yesterday marked nine years since my father took his life. Nine years. Much has happened in my life in those years. An engagement. A broken engagement. Two major surgeries (four, if you count the c-sections). I married the most amazing man. I've given birth to three beautiful children. Spent 10 days with one those in NICU, fighting for his very breath. We've been unemployed, homeless, desperate, confused.
Employed. Delivered. Restored to health.
We have lived, as my dear husband stated when quoting Bonhoeffer in our Christmas letter, "in God's good grip."
I realize that this, for the most part, looks like a list of bad things. And they have, undeniably, been hard. Very hard. Many of them harder than I can yet articulate, or may ever be able to. Through them we have learned what it is to be thankful. To experience joy. When I reflect on these years, what I think of most are the lessons that I want to be able to pass on to my children. Things that we, as Christians, will often give assent to, but can't really understand until we've known them as reality. So, in that sense, there may be only so much that can be passed on to them. But I can only pray that my life will be an example, and that I will have words when they are old enough to need to hear them. That I might help them to do more than acknowledge these things as truth, but to live them.
I pray that my children will know true joy. That joy doesn't always equal happiness. Joy comes from God, and the knowledge that He working His good will in our lives in accordance with His good pleasure. We are His.
That blessing and provision don't necessarily look like the American Dream. Nor are we necessarily called to that "dream," or being irresponsible if we allocate our resources in other ways. If we are faithful, God will provide.
That compassion for the poor and needy looks more like foolishness to the world, and even to the church, than it does wisdom. We are called to mercy, to sacrifice. We must guard our hearts against finding our security in our money in the name of good stewardship. We have grace, freely given, and we are to extend that to others. Don't cling to your money at the expense of others. Remember that God provides, but that that provision doesn't always look the way we'd like it to.
So give. Trust God with your resources.
Because our security is in Christ, and Him alone.
To know that we, as their parents, are but weak reflections of a Father in heaven who loves them, cares for them, disciplines them and always does what he does in their lives for their good and His glory. If we fail them, He never will.
Knowing that trials do not mean a lack of love from God or that we are in deep sin. Trials bring growth in our faith. Through them we learn to truly see God for who he is, and ourselves for who we are. Nothing without Him. That His mercies are truly new every morning.
We are a people delivered from sin, from death, but not from the trials and hardships of this world. If anything, we are called to a life in this world that is hard. But nothing is impossible with Christ.
Thankfulness isn't a feeling. It is an act of faith, a deliberate, and often moment by moment acknowledgment of ways in which God has provided for us. This leads to joy. To contentment.
That nothing makes sense apart from a framework that is built upon the Gospel. Christ suffered for us, He died, He rose again, and He has gripped us.
It is a good grip. And it is a grip from which we will never be released.
3 months ago