Wednesday, May 06, 2009

In training

Seems like a bunch of us bloggy friends have taken some hits recently.

Everything from sick kids, sick selves, job worries, funerals, unexpected bills, etc...

Boy did I have to struggle to not get sucked into feeling worse every time I opened my blog reader. I realized after I'd just left a casual comment to the effect of our blessings outweighing our troubles... that I didn't know what I would do if my circumstances truly felt so overwhelming that even that balance didn't apply.

A brave mom with cancer who is watching her son struggle with painful health issues. A coworker who has been widowed yet again in a terribly cruel way. The teenaged daughter of a dear friend who has just been diagnosed with a brain tumor. And far, far too many children in my Carepages circle who are taking their first breaths in Heaven while their families grieve.

What then?

If you are like Job in the Bible, where everything seems to crash down around you? When you can honestly say that all worldly blessings do not even come close to the painful trials?

All I could think of today as I drove down some lonely roads; was how my beliefs, put in action in real life, mean that all of these things are temporary. It means that because I have a personal relationship with the One who made me, those things that bring heartache will be gone - with joy in their place.

I am so far from figuring it out. I don't have answers. Why Baby Gracie isn't with us, why Itty Bit lost his kidney, why I can't hear.

But why would our maker even bother with this life, if there is an eternal one waiting? Maybe dealing with all these imperfections means that this time in our life is our proving ground.

Scratch that... our improving ground. Where our need for eachother and God - our responses to those yucky and hard things - grow us in ways we didn't expect, and strip us of pretenses and excuses.

I need you.
And I need my family.
And mostly - I need The Big Guy Upstairs, who knows how to work good from any bad.

The things that I let trip me up in this race - I need to be hurdling them. The hurdles aren't going to go away, but I'll be able to jump higher - and I won't be sitting on the sidelines with scraped shins anymore.

This song reminds me of the important stuff... and makes me feel incredibly small.

How Great is Our God
The splendor of a King,
clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice
He wraps himself in Light,
and darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice
How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God
Age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the end
Beginning and the end
The Godhead Three in One
Father Spirit Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb
Name above all names
Worthy of our praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God
How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God


Eyeglasses & Endzones said...

So true! This has to be our Improving ground I agree. I can't imagine what everyone else is going through and it makes me feel blessed beyond belief when all I am worrying about is a busy schedule or something miniscule..(?) My prayers are with everyone who has a circumstance that does not have an answer...prayer is all I can say...and that song helps me all the time too ;)

Elaine at Matters of the Heart) said...

Beautifully said Rachel, and oh so true. The Mister and I were talking about this, just this morning. It is like we are in boot camp or something, we will whether this storm, because we know what is promised. Thank you for sharing this. I agree, there are so many going through so much right now.

Lisa said...

I feel so guilty when I complain about my troubles and then I see the troubles others have and think to myself I have no right to complain.
great post, thank you for causing me to count my blessings.

Amy B said...

You have no idea how much I just needed to hear this today. This has been a really hard emotional day. Reality has hit hard today and I have felt pretty defeated. I read this and it was medicine for my heart.
Thank you for blessing me with this reminder. I may need to read it at 2 am..

Pam D said...

Beautiful, Rachel. Simple.. and simply perfect. Oh, that we would all look at these "light and momentary afflictions" as the stretching pains of being molded into HIS likeness. So many hurting people; so many reflections and prayers. And hopefully, we're handling these challenging times in such a way that others see Him in us. This is our chance, possibly the best opportunity we will ever have, to be the light and salt that He asks. This world is NOT our home, but while we're here, He calls for us to bring Him down here; a little piece of Heaven in an arid, hostile desert. You're doing it, my friend, and it's always like a cool drink on a hot day to read your blog and emails. Keep running the race, Rachel.. I know you'll finish strong. And improved. You already are.

Paige said...

I really enjoyed your post today Rachel. I myself have had more questions than answers lately. Your words have been encouraging. Thank you.

melody is slurping life said...

Thank you, my friend.

Unknown said...

Wow Rachel- you brought me to tears...I always come here looking for a laugh and then BAM you got me! I loved it - very touching I must say again. Thank you for sharing such compassion. Have a great night.

Lisa said...

Oh, how very true. These past couple of weeks I have been experiencing some "difficulties" and had begun the "poor me's" even though some of the situations were really troublesome. We tend to forget that God can truly turn the very bad for his good, whether we understand or even know how he does it. I LOVE that song, too, How great is our god. How true.

Lisa S.

Anonymous said...

Oh I so understand your post...and needed it. I cannot begin to understand...

Thank you, my friend!

Unknown said...

I love this song. And I love this post! Thank you for sharing. Such a perfect and timely message : ).

Pam said...

This post is perfect and timely for so many more people than you could've imagined.

We all know our own struggles and even know those of some of our friends. So many of us know that we can reach out to a friend when we're in need, regardless of whether or not we've ever had the priviledge of meeting them in person or talking on the phone. Or even offer something of ourselves to someone else if they need us. It's easy to get all wrapped up in our own issues when there are so many sitting silently around us.

We do need to use our time on this Earth to improve ourselves. Noone is exempt from pain and suffering. Some have more than others. The point is to press on and be better for it.

You are a dear blessing to me and so many others, as evidenced by all the comments before me, and I am so thankful to have you as a friend. A friend I can call out to in the middle of the night (well, maybe email would be a more accurate term) with whatever problem is weighing me down and you always seem to pull me from the depths to safety. I will forever be grateful for your most generous heart!


p.s. I was just singing that song this morning. It's so true! I just wish that EVERYONE knew it and would sing along in praise...regardless of whether they are on top of the world or in the lonely pits of despair. Singing this (and other praise and worship songs) actually helps you realize that you're NOT alone! Singing is believing.

Carebear said...

Great perspective Rachel. I'm humbled by your reminder. I am such a pessimist by nature and forget to focus on my blessings. Thank you for reminding me that my job here is to be constantly IMproving, bring glory to God and helping my children form an intimate relationship with Him through the gift of Christ on the cross.

Jaime said...

I love that song and pretty much anything Chris Tomlin writes.

I heard someone one time say, when they were going through a very difficult time, "Why not me?" Instead of "why me" when something was hard, they said, "Why not me?" I don't know if I could do that in the middle of a trial, but I pray I could.

Why not me to experience God on a level that others might not ever know? Why not me to learn trust and faith and peace in the midst of a difficult storm?

Again, I haven't lost any family members close to me, my kids are all healthy, etc. and so it might sound easy for me to say those things, but I realize that because I haven't gone through any really difficult trials, I don't necessarily know God on the level that some do. And, although, I don't desire a trial, I do desire to know God more intimately. What a blessing to make it to the other side of a trial (or to the point of acceptance of a trial that will never end) and know that you know God better.

brian said...

A really good post, Ms. Rachel...

And this is one of my favorite songs to play when I get to sit-in with the band at church...

I think that Job is one of the most challenging books of the Bible. I have often wondered if, faced with the same loss, I'd be able to respond as he did: "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the the name of the Lord be praised." Job never lost faith...

Killlashandra said...

I have to agree, the last couple weeks have definitely been long long ones. To top off the ending to this one we just learned the compressor in our stand up freezer is out and we need to replace the ice maker in the other freezer completely if we want it to continue working. And of course, the husband driving all of OK and KS looking for farrier work hasn't helped the family budget much either. But the sun comes up every morning and we smile and start again too. :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this today! What a wonderful reminder :-) said...

Improving grounds...profound.

What a honor it is to stand by our blogger friend through their trials.

Love that has gotten me through tough times...helping me focus on our Lord!

Stacy said...

Yes, wonderful perspective, Rachel. :) In the last few weeks I tried to keep my chin up and keep perspective. My kids prematurely losing their teeth would not be the end of the world. It was a really hard week waiting to see if I had breast cancer, but thankfully that came out alright. There are so many that have suffered so much, that our family's little trials are not that hard.