Suffering Well…or Not So Well.

Last week was challenging. Really challenging.

Since this spring, I’ve been challenged in my conversations with Eric about God being all-knowing & all-powerful…even in our suffering. It was kind of a giant light bulb moment for me to realize that God KNEW that this or that would happen in this way & even if it hurt, even if it was hard, it was ALWAYS for my good.

I’m still only catching a glimpse of this revelation; believing that nothing on earth or in heaven can upset what God has planned and seeing how this truth has played out in the different circumstances of my life.

I was reminded about what James talks about when he says to “consider it pure joy” when we face trials of many kinds because it tests our faith, our trust in God, and produces in us endurance and patience so that we would be perfectly developed, lacking nothing. 

Whoa.  So all of this desire I express to love (God & people) well is actually facilitated by suffering. God is GOOD to engineer my circumstances (Oswald Chambers loves to talk about this) so that I might LEARN and GROW.

I’m seeing the JOY in growing pains & my heart is resounding with an overwhelming “it is well”…especially this weekend…sort of.

So I stayed up too late watching 24 at The Beach because Noah & Eric got me hooked on the political drama series via Netflix (let me just say, Palmer for President!). I opened the store Saturday morning and got a call, mid-morning, that one of my girls had to go to the hospital and consequently couldn’t work her afternoon/closing shift. It’s summer at Starbucks, everyone is on vacation, especially on the weekends in Minnesota when everyone goes “up north to the cabin”. There was no one to cover the closing shift so I ended up doing an open to close on Saturday followed by an open the next morning.

In a way this was sort of like my inauguration to Store Manager life.  I mean, it was bound to happen, right? The situation sucked, obviously, but in some freakishly weird way I was “bubbling” with JOY. I just laughed at how crazy it all was.

It was in that moment, laughing in the midst of trial, that I remembered James’ words. I felt this supernatural peace and joy (strength) overwhelming me and I knew this was ALL for my GOOD. This was all happening to teach me, to grow my threshold of endurance, and produce an increased measure of faith, patience, strength and ultimately, holiness in me; that I might be like Him.

Through the night I was energized by the thought of what this situation was producing in my spirit. I was HAPPY to serve and persevere, making it my goal to not complain (which is poisonous) but to rely on a strength that comes from a source I cannot see.

I was doing pretty well, keeping the JOY in my growing pains…until I sliced my thumb open. Up to then I had plenty of opportunities to complain, to get discouraged, to allow selfishness to take over, etc. Instead, I chose joy, but I quickly realized how much I had to grow in endurance once the physical pain set in.

In a freak incident, I sliced open my thumb on a metal piece of equipment and was bleeding all over the back room of the store. Do I consider it pure joy NOW?

Oops.

Thankfully, God is gracious to teach us, even in our weakness, and when we fail He’s there with GRACE – favor, completely undeserved.

I survived the night and the morning after, but I didn’t endure as well as I wish I would’ve. Still, I know there’s opportunity upon opportunity ahead of me that is strategically designed for me to be perfectly developed, lacking nothing.

That night I came home to a kind and thoughtful man surprising me at my doorstep, carrying a card, written corner-to-corner with sweet words. That encouragement was like water to my dry and tired heart.

After my “two-day trial”, I got home, took a nap, woke up and cried. I was unconsolably exhausted from lack of sleep. Seriously, all I can compare this to is an over-tired two-year-old. Eric’s kindness and compassion in that weekend was just such a testimony of grace to me. His selflessness did wonders for my heart. He plugged his Beats into a sermon and did my dishes while I cleaned my room and folded laundry to start my Monday off on the right track (Sunday tradition). I’m so blessed to have someone who can make me laugh, even on some of the hardest days.

Looking back, this weekend doesn’t seem as hard as it felt but my heart is compelled to learn how to suffer WELL, with joy, so that I might be perfectly developed in LOVE.

I’m thankful for my job, my relationships, and my trials: all things that God has all-knowingly, all-powerfully put into my life to help me GROW.

Listening to this sweet song over and over tonight. No video, but just listen and as you let go, LET GOD.

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