One time when I was a child, I read a book that had this analogy in it that I will never forget. It said that life is like a wheel: sometimes it is up and things are great, but sometimes it goes down and things get tough. The hope is that we know that it will always come up again.
During the summer I did a devo on this topic and I completely forgot about it until this past sunday. I am deaf in my left ear as of the last couple of years, and this summer one of my campers kept poking fun at me for it. It's one thing when it's one of your close friends who you know will be there for you if you need to break down about it as well, but it's different when it is a 12 year old who doesn't fully grasp the concept. But when she said this it just got me to thinking a lot about the difficulties I had been through and how God had shown himself to me through them. Around this time of the summer, God kept putting things into my life where I was learning about the meaning of difficulties and "why good things happen to Godly people". I felt compelled to share about it, and decided to give a devo on it basically the next day. I'm the kind of person where I won't get up and talk in front of a group unless I know exactly what I want to say, and this was no exception.
Around this time I was reading So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore on my own, and Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado for a Bible Study. These two books brought concepts to the table that I had not thought of before. I don't specifically remember which book said what, so I'm just going to generalize here:
Basically, in hard times God is teaching us. He is showing us and testing our faith. He is challenging us to become the people that he has set us out to be. Also with this, God uses these challenges in our lives to give us the skills and opportunities to minister to certain people. God teaches us languages of the hurting through our pain.
For instance, I was born physically disabled and then lost my hearing this past year, so I have a heart for the physically disabled. Then this summer God put a girl who also has feet problems in one of my cabins. I was able to talk to her and have empathy as she had just had foot surgery. Also, I have struggled a lot with my weight and self-image, and God led me to be more open about this and to have many conversations with staff and campers about this. It is also something that I have just been able to pull from in my everyday life. It is really cool to realize that I went through that to be able to minister to others.
Lately I have forgotten this. See, when I gave this devo I wasn't necessarily going through a difficulty at the time, but recently I have been having a hard time knowing what God is doing in my life. This goes with many things, including my future, school, friendships, etc. But this past Sunday as I was sitting in church, the pastor started talking about missions. He was talking about how his purpose in life to make sure that people know that they are redeemed by God. That no matter what, God is still with them and that God still wants to be glorified through whatever they are dealing with.
Then I realized that that was what I had given my devo on this summer and it struck me: no matter what I was going through, God is going to use it to his glorification. No matter how long it takes to get out of bed in the morning, or how much time I need to spend with God that day, he is going to ultimately be glorified in whatever I am going through.
And that just service just changed my mindset. I feel like I think way too much about myself and about petty things in my life. During this service I just examined my life and these past two summers, and how during them I was better able to compartmentalize everything (now, I'm not a boy, so it's still spaghetti, but it was a little better). Helped me to realize that no matter what is or was going on, God still wants to be glorified. Time to get my feet up and continue the work in me that he has been doing the past several months.
Looking back on this past year, I am a completely different person than I was 7 months ago when I left Baylor and went to Cho-Yeh for the second year. I will write a more detailed post on this later.
But basically, God works through our hardships for the better and I am so excited to see how he is going to bring glorification to himself through me and through these experiences.
"God seeks to redeem everything about us. God's great reversal. God takes the bad and changes it to his good," Dr. Albert Reyes (the pastor on sunday... I take sermon notes).
"The redeemed life is not without pain and suffering, but God wants us to take that redemption to others sometimes in our lives," Dr. Albert Reyes
"In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory." -- Ephesians 3:12-13
"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."-- 2 Corinthians 12: 8-10
"... but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."-- Romans 5: 3-5