Each December, I ask the Lord for a special word from Him to serve as my “theme” for the coming year. 2013’s word is JOY. I was excited to receive this word, expecting great things throughout the year that would provide great joy.
Instead, I’ve had trials. Lots of them. Through the trials, I’ve realized that JOY doesn’t come instead of trials; it comes in spite of them, if we remember to keep our focus on Jesus. (It’s still the summer as I write this, so it didn’t take a whole year to learn this particular lesson!)
I’ve also learned some other things this year – and it seems quite the hodgepodge.
LOYALTY. Friendships are near and dear to me. In the past few years, I’ve realized how important friendships are to our lives, and that it’s important to choose friends wisely. True friends, when you go through trials and troubles, don’t avoid you. They come alongside you, praying for you, encouraging you, supporting you, loving you. They also don’t question God’s judgment on your life like Job’s friends did. They assumed the worst and became judgmental towards Job. I don’t want to be like them, do you? We must ask for wisdom, even in our friendships.
PERSEVERANCE. Through all the trials this year – family crises, financial struggles, and a chronic illness I’ve been dealing with since February – life has gone on. I’m a small business owner in addition to being a full-time student, so work had to continue. Working at home made it a little easier on me, but still, I had responsibilities and obligations that forced me to push through when I really wanted to climb back in bed for a year. I spent a lot of time praying for God’s strength to get me through each day.
ATTITUDE. At one point earlier this year, after yet another family crisis and little sleep due to my health issues, I just started bawling, and cried out “I give up. I quit.” I didn’t really mean it – I was just tired of trying, tired of the daily struggle. But my comments were enough for the enemy to get a foothold, and he began to hit me with everything he could. Hubby and I even started snapping at each other –a sure sign the enemy was on the prowl, because we never fight or argue. So I asked the Lord to forgive me for the quitter’s attitude, and asked Him to help me push through. I also surrendered it all to HIM, because He doesn’t give up on us.
REST. I am driven. I work 16-18 hour days, six days a week – and love almost every minute of it. But health issues and family crises have forced me out of that this summer. I’ve been forced to rest, just so I’ll have the energy to be there for family and work as I’m needed. It’s actually a bit surprising to realize that rest gives me strength. That’s forcing me to re-evaluate my schedule. Right now, I’m working on a new schedule that builds in times for rest, exercise, and play. That means I have to either cut back on work and school, or work smarter. I’m going into my senior year, so there’s no cutting back at this point. Working smarter is going to be the key. Anyone have any clues to help me?
None of this is new. James said it best when he wrote:
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” ~ James 1:2-5 NASB
Consider it all joy. Ask for wisdom. So that we lack nothing. Indeed.