God has a wonderful way of strengthening us. Every trial is an opportunity to grow and see the faithfulness of God. This is something that I realized just last night as Michael, Noah and I were talking about the process of forgiveness and the journey of growing dependent upon the Lord. I wanted to write this quickly before I forgot, as it was a profound moment for me in realizing the purpose hidden within the struggle of life. For me, my walk with the Lord has looked a lot like a hike through the woods climbing up to an incredible view. I know the full view is there, I'm just not there yet. Every so often there is a clearing in the trees and you can look out and be encouraged at the birds eye view you have of your life or circumstance. It is a clearing in the trees, but there is still mountain to climb. Realizing this has been a clearing moment for me.
Running in mud. If you have found yourself in a trial that has lasted longer than you ever thought one could, if you have begun to lose hope in your victory, if you are getting distracted while you wait for the deliverance. If you feel like you are being brought through the cycle of refinement like a pair of dirty underwear going round and round in the laundry only to find that you're not fully white yet, if your feet are heavy, if it feels like you are running in mud... you have to Keep on running. What choice do we really have?
The purpose of your trial is to strengthen and prepare you so that you can sustain the freedom found after the breakthrough comes. Imagine running in wet mud for many years. The resistance becomes the norm. It is awkward, messy and clunky. You are encumbered by your trial, and restricted by your weakness. The mud could be a number of things: our addictions, our deep-rooted fears, the anxieties that don't seem to diminish, our endless battles. But then imagine that after many years of running in mud, the earth dries and becomes solid ground. Imagine the strength in your legs and the capacity of your lungs. Imagine the character forged in you capable of persevering and moving forward. Imagine the shear momentum. Imagine the understanding and the wisdom you would have of your difficult season and how you might could lead others through the same thing. It all has a wonderful purpose and is part of the process of growing designed by God.
At what point will we stop being surprised that life can be difficult? We need to understand that not all the dots will connect on this side of heaven. Even the dots within ourselves. We are not perfect. Even the great apostle Paul cried out, "I do not understand myself,I do the things I don't want to do and I don't do the things I want to do." He felt the weight of the mud. But he also said this: "we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5)." The man understood the journey. From perseverance grows the character, the power, the sustainability, and the lift.
When will the mud turn into solid ground? I don't know, and this will always be a mystery to me. Sometimes miracles happen and the mud dries overnight. Other times, the mud stays for years. There will still be mud when we die. But would the doubt of God's faithfulness be transformed into great anticipation of freedom and a season of running with strengthened legs. Take heart and believe in the work God is doing amidst the trial. There is so much brokenness within me, and there is so much weakness that has yet to be turned to strength, but maybe in a deeper way than I have ever known, I understand why.