I'll just go ahead and admit... this has been a tough one! It has taken me a little while to write this post and even longer to actually publish it. Although all of my posts are straight from the heart and exactly what I feel God is teaching me at the time, this one has laid heavily on me for a while... the circumstances surrounding this particular revelation have been grueling and I have been unsure of how to express the things God had laid on my heart. But, I have decided to trust that He has given me the words and the wisdom to effectively communicate how I have experienced His unfailing goodness and power in my life. So here goes...
Temptation, trials, tragedy... and treasure? How does the word "treasure" possibly fit in with these other obviously negative words? It's not exactly a word that we usually associate with the difficult circumstances that come to mind when we begin to think about those other words. But why not...
Why do we not seek out the treasures that can be found in the midst of life's tough times? For the most part, it's not in our human nature to look for "treasures" as we trudge through life's dark moments like unemployment, the loss of a loved one, sickness, marital problems, or financial struggles... But what if we did? What if we made the effort to redirect our focus and search for the treasures that might be hidden in difficult times of life? How might our situations turn out differently if we deliberately look beyond the pain and disappointment? What if we just choose to run in to the arms of God which are full of everlasting "treasures" just waiting for us?
Recently, God began to speak to me about the treasures that can be found in the darkness of life's trials... the type of priceless treasures that can only be discovered in the darkest of dark places... just like rare jewels that are uncovered and mined out of the deepest, darkest, most hidden caves. As I spoke with a close friend a few days ago, I came to the realization that my ever-faithful Father has laid before me one of these invaluable treasures that I may not have found if I were not currently trudging through one of my life’s most trying moments. Because of the trial that I am facing now, my faith and reliance on God has grown without measure. It has grown so much that I even struggle to find the words to describe the change that has taken place within my heart and mind. Over the past several months, I had begun to notice the changes in me but it did not really come into full light until the other day.
As is our usual custom every few months or so, my friend and I were catching up on the new developments in our lives over a casual dinner. I (not wanting to throw a pity-party for myself) had already decided before I arrived at the restaurant that if the topic came up (and I knew it would), I was going to somehow find a way to discuss it in a positive light. So when our conversation turned to me and that area of my life I hesitated for a moment… I took a deep breath, prayed a quick, silent "God guide me" and carefully began to speak. By the look on her face and the tears welling up in my eyes I knew that the hurt, frustration, and disappointment that I was experiencing was undeniably and overwhelmingly evident. Carefully reading her expressions, I was so oddly aware of every word that came tip-toeing across my lips in my quivering but somehow confident voice. As I anticipated (and dreaded) the normal responses of pity and genuine concern that accompany these types of conversations, I felt like I could only emphasize the good that had come from my current situation. I conveyed to her how much my relationship with God had changed for the better because of the difficulties I have been faced with. With tear filled eyes and that burning achiness in my throat that only comes from holding back sobs, I told of how in spite of the hurt and disappointment that often overwhelms me, I have found such a peace and deep knowing that I am following God's will for me. I explained that even though I had a strong Christian upbringing and have always trusted in God's will and plan for me, this was something so much more. What I had stumbled upon in my struggle to find my own way out of this dark hole was a dependence and faith in God's sovereign control over my life like I have never experienced before. A glimmering treasure of hope had been exposed just when I thought all that lay before me was more hurt and despair. I was becoming more and more aware of my Father’s love for me and the peaceful rest that is only found in Him. I knew that I and my situation would work out for the best and I wanted to be certain my friend knew that as well.
So, as she listened to me reassuring her (and myself) of how much God had been teaching me and how He had drawn me under His protecting wing... I opened my mouth and heard God speak to ME through my own words and now slightly more stable voice. I uttered this exact sentence (through tears and sniffling), "I absolutely want things to get better, BUT not at the cost of losing what I have gained." … And it was in that moment that it dawned on me... It is this dark cave that I am still stumbling around in that has forced me to depend solely on God's guidance and draw closer to Him. It is the utter despair and hurt that I experience in that darkness that has taught me to not just listen to my Father's voice; but to purposefully follow it because only He can lead me out of this dark trial and into a peaceful place of refuge and restoration. It is the complete helplessness and inability to create my own solution that has led me to depend on my God's faithfulness to provide all my needs.
Of course I am more than ready for the hard times to end… I am eager to leave this gloomy valley and climb into the light of the bright future He has promised me. I almost feel crazy for the “but” that interjected that sentence that so perfectly describes the almost irrational outlook I have developed regarding my current struggle. He is molding me into a better person, wife, friend, daughter, sister, and Christian. Because I chose to redirect my focus to Him instead of dwelling on the negativity of my trial, I can now see the sparkling glint of light from the “treasure” of knowing His unfailing love for me and trusting in His control over every dark circumstance. I understand now more than ever how important a relationship with my heavenly Father is to the course of my life and the outcome of my everyday living. I have become inexplicably aware of His presence and power over every aspect of my life and even more conscious of my need for Him in my life. I know that it is only His goodness and mercy that will lead me through this trial as I continue to seek Him, still myself, and know that He is my God, my Provider, my Refuge, my EVERYTHING.