by Lauren Watt
Editor's Note: I am so excited to have a new guest post by my dear friend, Lauren Watt. Lauren is a wonderful sister in Christ who has joyfully navigating some very difficult health challenges with grace and perseverance. Each day is a struggle that she keeps fighting through; however, she has beautifully trusted God throughout the process and her faith has been made stronger because of it. Therefore, I am honored and privileged to share a guest post she wrote for us on choosing joy in the midst of hardships. I hope you're blessed and encouraged.
I'm an artist.
When I took my first lesson in oil painting nearly a decade ago, my instructor told me that once I started painting I'd never look at anything the same way. And she was right.
When I look at the woods surrounding my family's home, I pay careful attention to the shadows on the trees. When I look at the colors of the sky, I am more aware of the gradation of dark to light blue. I even notice things like how light catches on dew drops in the grass.
I am aware of many little details that I overlooked before I began painting. The world has always felt like a more beautiful place since I first picked up my brush. However, none of my surroundings changed, only my perspective did.
Suffering. It’s all around us. You see it on the faces of people you pass at the grocery store, see it in the stories posted on the news and social media, and see the pain it causes in the lives of those you know and love. We live in a broken world, but it can be hard to make sense of all the pain and suffering we see and experience. How can a good, loving Father allow us to go through hard times? As born-again believers, shouldn’t we be free from the ravages of a sinful world? If God is truly sovereign, why does He allow us to walk through suffering?
As Thanksgiving approaches, it may be hard to feel thankful. Our nation has been hit hard with catastrophe, tragedy, and unprecedented violence. From the fires in the west to the hurricanes in the south and flooding in the east and numerous shootings throughout, no region has been spared from calamity. Many people are hurting and broken. Some are destitute without a home, while others have lost loved ones without having the chance to say goodbye.
Our hearts hurt for those who have lost everything, and we’re heavily burdened for those who have no hope. So this Thanksgiving, how can we rejoice and give thanks when our world seems to be falling apart?
Since a very young age, I have always been fascinated by the stained glass windows found within the states. The stories of Jesus show forth proudly as the new day sun shines through. Casting the dark reds, and deep blues upon the faces of the congregation as they eagerly listen to the words of their shepherd. Small children investigate the photos of Christ in His ministry on earth, remembering the tales of Christ that they so often hear from their parents: the feeding of the 5,000, Christ's birth, death and resurrection. Though it may seem childish, I still enjoy spending my time looking at stained glass windows and maybe the reason behind my love of them is knowing how much they show my own story.
Editor’s Note: Since my article was published on TheRebelution.com, there has been an increased focus and interest on the subject of trials and God’s sovereignty in them. So when I received an email from a friend paralleling the metal refining process with God’s work in our lives and the biblical use of metal, fire, and purification, I was so encouraged and excited by the concepts and truths brought out that I felt led to share it with you all. So here it is. While the first half may become a bit tedious—especially if you’re not an engineer—keep reading, everything will fall into place and create a power-punch at the end! May the Lord use it to encourage and build you up in your current place—whether it be in the midst of, coming out of, or recovering from a season of difficulty.
Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations. So reads the title of the book, the start of a Rebelution. It’s challenging. It’s exciting. It’s world changing. But for some of us, it’s not reality. For some of us, doing hard things doesn’t always mean rebelling against low expectations but rather merely meeting them.
Now before you stop reading in aghast, let me explain. I agree that we are all called to do hard things. However, for some of us, those hard things are not necessarily big things. In fact, they might be ordinary, mundane, supposedly “normal” things, but they’re hard for us. Now the “us” I’m referring to is not the typical, everyday teenager or young person, but the one navigating physical affliction and suffering whether it be cancer, Lyme’s disease, juvenile arthritis, autoimmune disease, or any other chronic illness. Can you relate?
Today is a day of remembrance and reflection for our country. A time to remember lives lost, sacrifices made, and a war begun. Fifteen years ago, terror struck America as three hijacked planes hurled into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The attackers’ objective: terrorize the most powerful nation in the world and bring fear and devastation. They accomplished their mission and ignited the War on Terror. Since that fateful day in 2001, there have been many other terrorist attacks in America and around the world where innocent people have lost their lives and military personnel have sacrificed theirs.
Today is a day of remembrance and reflection for our country. A time to remember lives lost, sacrifices made, and a war begun. On this day, fourteen years ago, terror struck America as three hijacked planes hurled into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The attackers’ objective: terrorize the most powerful nation in the world and bring fear and devastation. They accomplished their mission and ignited the War on Terror. Since that fateful day in 2001, there have been many other terrorist attacks in America and around the world where innocent people have lost their lives and military personnel have sacrificed theirs.
"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."
This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.
One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.
“Then the LORD said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.’”
While God was making His covenant with Abraham, He told Abraham that his descendants, the Israelites, would be sojourners in a foreign land and that they would be afflicted for four hundred years. Now this is not something I would want God to tell me, would you?! But as always there’s a promise, and it is in the fact that although God allowed the Israelites to suffer He vowed to bring judgment on their oppressors and lead them out with great possessions.
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
~II Corinthians 12:10
Streams in the Desert records A. P. Simpson’s literal translation of this verse as “Therefore I take pleasure in being without strength, in insults, in being pinched, in being chased about, in being cooped up in a corner for Christ’s sake; for when I am without strength, then am I dynamite.”
“For the LORD is NEAR to the broken hearted,
and SAVES those crushed in spirit.”
Life is so fragile, and the world is utterly brutal; like a delicate flower exposed to the harsh elements. However, we have a tender, loving Gardner who knows the limit of each uniquely created flower, and He will not let it be exposed to more that it can handle. His desire is that every single creation He has intentionally placed in His garden would become beautiful, fruitful, and strong; secure in the knowledge that its faithful Creator will provide for all its needs and fully trusting through the painful moments that the Divine Pruner knows what He’s doing.
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Today is a day of remembrance and reflection for our country. A time to remember lives lost, sacrifices made, and a war begun. Read more
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