The idea that a hard life can be a blessing is not something that occurs naturally to many people. Our automatic default can be to think hard times equal hard lives devoid of blessings. But that’s simply not true. Often I’ve found that the hardest times of trial in my life have paved the way to greater revelation of the character and nature of God. Along with those revelations, there’s a greater perspective, a heavenly view of the blessings that God pours out on us.
In the New Testament, Paul writes about keeping and cultivating this heavenly perspective when we are faced with many trials. He encourages the disciples and the members of the church to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus, fixed on the unseen, fixed on the promises that He has given, instead of the moments when life wasn’t going so well. He filled his life with examples of always staying aware of what God was doing behind and inside some less-than-great moments he went through.
Paul led a life filled with more trials and suffering than many of us will experience. He was put in prison multiple times, flogged and beaten to the brink of death, and shipwrecked three times; along with being in danger from bandits, starvation, and other unsafe conditions. He went through more than many of us will ever have to, thankfully. Yet he kept his eyes fixed on Jesus. He rejoiced in his suffering, his one goal being only to know Christ and to become like Him in all circumstances. He kept his eyes fixed on heaven – no matter what.
When I look back on my life and consider all the things that have tied together to bring me where I am, every step and story has to be looked at. If I buy into the idea that the suffering and hard chapters in life are worthless and that they were just a stumbling stone in my journey, then I would miss out on seeing the massive blessings that have been born out of those moments of pain.
I’ve seen strength and courage come out of times when I felt overlooked and discouraged by people. God reminded me of my worth and my ability to bring something needed to the table in those situations. When relationships in my life fell apart, He showed me that my ultimate belonging was in Him alone. When I lost my way in life and couldn’t see where my feet were going, He came in with purpose and guided me to new passions I could chase after.
Through the pain of these times I found that if I kept my eyes fixed on heaven and held tight to the idea that there is a perspective greater than my own, then I could see the blessings and the goodness of God coming through.
I have had the sweetest moments of experiencing God’s presence when I was on my knees in tears and desperation. I’d come to the end of my ability to function and was relying wholeheartedly on God to come and fill in the gap. In every moment of brokenness and sadness, God has met me where I was and showed a new facet of Himself.
If I were to erase every sad time in my life, block out every broken piece of my story, make my life seem like it is only sunshine and rainbows, then I would miss out on nearly every moment of growth I’ve experienced. I would lose so much of who I am now. The hardest things in my life have given birth to the most influential moments of character development and identity formation. I am who I am because God walked me through suffering and showed me Himself through it.
While I might not have entirely enjoyed these moments in my life, I am so incredibly grateful that I went through them. A new wave of blessings came out of those broken pieces and helped form me into who I am today. In 1 Peter, Peter speaks to a group of Christian exiles and encourages them to rejoice even in the midst of great trials and suffering. That those difficult situations have come so that our faith is of greater worth than gold, that our faith is refined by fire and stands strong afterwards. Trials and difficulties help shape us into the person that we were always intended to be.
If you’re going through a rough season right now, hold fast. Draw in close to God and keep your eyes and ears open for the lessons and blessings that are going to pour out. They might not appear right away so don’t lose hope, one day you’ll look back and see the whole story and you’ll be overcome with the goodness of God.
He knows where you’re at right now, if you’re just starting to trek through a hard time, or if you’re finally seeing the sunshine on the other end of it. He sees you, He knows you, and He is still holding your heart. Fix your eyes on heaven and rejoice through your trials because we are being formed into who we were created to be.
By Brooke Everheart
Port YWAM Kona Communications Staff