A Season of Trials and Struggles

Reposted from September 2009

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.  Ecc 3.1

I love the changing of the seasons… I especially love fall… even if I do need to get accustomed to the cold air.  The scents from wood fires, the stunning tapestry of color that covers the hills, and the fresh north breeze awakens something deep inside me.  As I considered the changing of the seasons this morning during my walk, I pondered how our lives go through seasons… and how they can be painful and how they are inevitable.  autumn

Sometimes we walk through what seems to be a season of trials and struggles… and it seems to stretch on and on much like a cold dark winter.  But rather than fixate on the struggles, my husband and I like to ponder what God is up to.  We never doubt his presence (Matthew 28.20).  He has promised to never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13.5).  Additionally, we know to trust in him in all circumstances… even when it makes no logical sense (Proverbs 3.5-6).

Much like the trees and plants that have been stripped bare for the cold dark winter, we go through seasons where we are stripped bare of the worldly things that we hang on to ($, status, health) and of worldly attitudes that we don’t even know we have (pride, guilt, lack of forgiveness, etc.).

As the plants and trees are ‘resting’ during the winter months in preparation for a ‘new beginning’ in the spring, they are often being protected by an insulating snow cover.  Snow is important to the survival of many plants as it provides insulation.  The temperature under a deep layer of snow will be much warmer than the air temperature.  This is just like His mercy and grace that covers each of us.  During our ‘dark’ seasons He is ministering to us at all times.  His grace is thrown over us, much like a blanket of new fallen snow.  His protection is real even though he is allowing us to be stripped down so that we will cling to him even tighter.  It is during these times that we find renewal, perspective and greater desire for him… although we may not realize it until the ‘springtime’ arrives… after His purging, cleansing, and purifying work has been done in us and our will has been turned into His will.

Nancy Missler refers to this time in our lives as a Night Season and she describes who is affected by these seasons very eloquently in her series entitled Faith in the Night Seasons

“This night season happens to people walking with the Lord for a long time; people who love Him with all their heart, mind and soul; people who have surrendered their lives to Him; people who are obedient to Him; and, people who fear Him.   Joy Dawson, a wonderful author and Bible teacher, shares that if we live righteous lives, then there is an inevitability that all of us will, at one time or another, experience God’s fire or a night of faith. Therefore, the longer we walk with the Lord, the more we can anticipate this experience, unless we choose to moment by moment surrender everything to Him.  Great Christians are made by great trials. Pain, sorrow and failure are what produce men and women of God. Those with the greatest dreams are often the ones who receive the greatest trials. Eternal lessons seem to require hard places.  As Scripture declares, the way we are made “perfect,” or whole or complete, is by suffering or by barring ourselves from sin and self. (Hebrews 2:10)  The dark night of the soul happens to people who have already accepted the Lord; those who have already given their lives to Him; those already filled with the Spirit; those who have already dedicated their lives to Him; those who have already asked for intimacy; and those who have already been set aside for God’s purposes of ministry.”

She continues to explain why God sends these seasons,

“God wants to know the full proof of us. He wants to know our real heart. Will we be obedient in all things? (2 Corinthians 2:9) Will we obey Him, even when we can’t see Him or feel Him? Will we hold on to His truths even though we don’t understand what He is doing?  The kind of Love that God wants from us is a love that reaches to the point of full and total surrender. Remember, to really love God (agapao) means to totally give ourselves over to Him.  If we are discontent with what God has allowed in our lives, it’s a sure indication that we have not completely surrendered and abandoned ourselves to Him. Just as God had to keep testing and proving Israel, so He must continue to humble, abase and weaken us. That way, He will perceive if we love Him, and we will see our total inability to live without Him.  The Lord wants believers who have faith like Job, and who can utter like he did, “Though You slay me, yet will I trust You.” When Job sought the Lord to know why the bad things were happening to him, he got no answer from God. And it’s often the same with us. God only tells us that He does have a plan for our lives and even though we don’t understand what that plan is or how it is going to work out, we must trust that He always has our best in view.”

Are you in a ‘dark winter season?  If so, join me in this prayer…

Lord, Jesus, please help me to learn how to rely completely and wholeheartedly on you… regardless of my circumstances and the giants at the door.  Help me to remember that my ways are not your ways and that your way is so much better than anything I could contrive or conceive.  Help me to trust that you know what is best for my life and that you will indeed make all things work together for good for those (me) called according to your purpose.  Grant me the power of your Spirit to battle fear, anxiety, and doubt.  And fix my eyes on the goodness of You.  Amen.

With Joy,

Jeana

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