As I look around my yard and flower beds at the end of winter, I am so discouraged. Remnants of dead leaves and acorns from last fall lay scattered all over the ground. My bushes’ unpruned branches are extending their territory in an unruly manner. The ground is barren and the grass is sparse. As I began to rake the stalks, sticks, and shreds into piles, I uncovered life beginning to sprout underneath. With determination, my daffodils, irises, and crocus were sprouting up through my unkempt yard. I had done nothing to coax them, but they are firm, hardy little plants.
This brought me to reflect on a passage in 1 Peter 1:3-4:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…” (emphasis mine).
Everything in this broken world echoes in our hearts that this is not how things were meant to be. My garden is a far cry from the Garden of Eden and my heart longs for that kind of beauty and perfection. It is the opposite of the heavenly inheritance that awaits me: it is perishable, defiled, and fading. Yet, God is faithful to prune the areas of my life that are unwieldy and resurrect the parts of me that are dead. Spring reminds us that He is faithful to keep His promises and we can have a confident hope in resurrection life.
When things spring to life in my yard, it is good and it is a shadow of resurrection life. Things still decay, break, and have thorns. In this “already” but “not yet” season of Christ’s redeeming work and His final consummation, there are daily hardships that are not a sign of failure of God’s grand plan. Hardships are a very important tool that God uses in our lives to draw us to Himself. It is His deliberate, sanctifying work.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites went through a desert season in the wilderness. God kept His promises to the Israelites in three ways: His presence, protection and provision. His presence was demonstrated by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night that guided them through the wilderness. (Ex. 13:21) He showed His faithfulness to protect them from enemy nations by fighting for them: “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut. 31:8; see also 2 Chron. 32:8) Lastly, He was faithful to provide manna and quail each day and water from the rock. (Exodus 16-17) How much more of His presence, protection, and provision does God offer us now in the New Covenant?
My husband and I are beginning our journey into the world of foster care and adoption. I have sat with several friends in tears as they have to “give their kids back” in the reunification process. I anticipate that this attachment and loss will be the most painful thing for me. I often feel that loving deeply will cost me, and my first instinct is the self-preservation of hardening my heart. However, I feel the Holy Spirit nudging me to keep my heart open and to love hard and deeply even at the risk of getting hurt.
The Holy Spirit gently reminds me that even my birth children do not belong to me; they are the Lord’s. Each child that the Lord brings into my life is not merely for my own relational benefit as a mother, but a divine privilege to nurture life for His name’s sake. My heart worships the role of mother and often God uses loss or strife in my life to remind me to not put my hope in that role, but to look to Him to be my All in All.
Trials, hardships, and deserts are very important tools in the hand of our merciful Creator. Just like a seed has to die in order to spring to life (John 12:24), or a butterfly has to enter a cocoon (or a coffin) in order to undergo metamorphosis, God uses trials to orchestrate deep heart transformation in us. We shouldn’t balk at these opportunities which shape us into the image of Christ. “If you are God’s child, you must never allow yourself to think that the hard things you are now going through are failures of God’s character, promises, power, or plan… God has chosen to let you live in this fallen world because He plans to employ the difficulties of it to continue and complete His work in you” (Paul Tripp, New Morning Mercies, March 8). The root of the original sin is doubting God’s goodness. Eve doubted this attribute of God and it caused her to take things into her own hands.
Creation is groaning and longing for restoration (Romans 8:22) and God uses trials as a mercy in our lives to protect us from ourselves. Our hearts can be so fickle, hard soil if you will, and prone to wander. God works through loss to protect our hearts from giving our worship to lesser things. People disappoint us, our bodies are aging and growing weak, flowers die,and food becomes an enemy. But God has a plan in all of this to use those broken things to win the affections of our hearts! All of these things are designed to deepen our love and worship of Him. He is completing the good work that He started in us, so my dear sister, trust His faithfulness to be a good surgeon of the heart and let Him mature you through each trial!
.................. **Due to the personal nature of some of the blog posts, and our desire to share freely with you, the blog portion of our website is limited to pastors’ wives who have registered with us. If you are an existing user, please log in. New users may register below. Before signing up below, go to your email account and add “firstname.lastname@example.org” to your contacts. This way, our emails containing registration info are less likely to go to your spam folder. Fill out the form below and submit. Check your email account for an email from us! Once we approve your registration, you will receive an email with your username and password. You will then be able to access the blog posts.**