I wiped my tears, took several deep breaths and got out of the car. This would be one of several moments where the Lord was leading me somewhere I did not want to go. What I really wanted was to isolate, curl up in a ball and pull the covers over my head. But here I was pushing past the raw emotions of hurt and pain to place myself where I knew the Lord desired me to be: seeking Him alongside a community of other believers.
When hard times hit, we naturally want to pull away from others but God’s prescription for our soul says, “press in.” (Acts 2:42, Hebrews 10:25, Hebrews 3:13)
Following God is hard. In fact, it’s impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit. And I was learning the reality of this truth as I navigated the roads of deep family pain.
As I look back I am amazed at the things the Lord has brought me through and the ways in which He provided strength and encouragement. Those gifts of grace definitely didn’t come in packages I imagined. In fact, many of the times I wanted to send back His gifts of grace because they were not what I wanted nor expected. Give me comfort and ease…
Oh yes, the Lord was loosening my grip on an idol of comfort and ease. I got to see firsthand how tempting it was to ignore God’s word. My heart insisted it knew best. I was certain that the answer to any of life’s problems was found on the path of least resistance.
In Hebrews 12:1-2, it says, “Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Source and Perfecter of our faith.”
As believers, we can learn from this verse that we are, metaphorically, running a race that requires endurance. Endurance is the ability to withstand hardship or difficulty, to keep on keeping on. It is a life that has a pattern of consistency in seeking and loving God most.
Faithful enduring love for Him is demonstrated in our obedience to His word. John 14:15
One of the ways in which we mature in the area of endurance is to go through seasons of suffering. How’s that for an invitation for growth? Come and run the path marked suffering!
But running on a path of suffering reveals a lot about our faith. It exposes what we really believe about God, ourselves and the church. Are we willing to trust and obey His word even if it means we sacrifice our own comfort, wants and desires?
How are you running beloved? Are you tired, overwhelmed or discouraged? Are you pressing in? Or pulling away? Wherever this finds you, be encouraged by God’s word and know that it is Jesus Himself who perfects your faith. He is faithful to finish the work He started in you.
As you pursue growth, here are some things I learned along my own path of suffering, things I learned to avoid:
The path of comfort and ease. This leads nowhere. It offers temporary relief but leaves you with a heartache of spiritual growth that’s been stunted and a vision that does not see God high and lifted up as He truly is. Romans 5:3
The path of blinding circumstances. Your eyes are fixed on your difficulties but not on Jesus. Clues you are on this path…your thoughts are consumed with worry, fear and doubt. Choose instead to meditate on the truths of the gospel. Hebrews 12:2
The path of emotionally-led decisions. You allow your emotions to decide whether you should or shouldn’t do something. Rather, each of our decisions as believers, is to be informed by God’s word. Psalm 119:105
The path of me, myself and I. You see yourself only as an individual and not as an important part of the local church. This is usually a HUGE indicator of where your heart truly lies. Christ died for His bride, the church, (pause and really take that in) and if our love for the local church isn’t growing in service and community with others than we simply are not growing at all. Ephesians 5:15-21
If you are experiencing a painful season of discouragement, my prayers are with you beloved. I know personally how hard it is to see anything straight when the world around you seems confusing and chaotic.
But let me again encourage you to fix your eyes on Jesus. When our gaze stays on Him, we see things as they truly are. He is in control, reigning and ruling, working all things together for your good and His glory.
Louise Moulton is a pastor's wife, mom, and nana to Haven, Kaiden & Luke. Her passion is to encourage and equip women to live for God's glory