I have once again picked up my "Streams in the Desert" daily devotional by L.B. Cowman. I bought it last July, yet in between leaving Lynchburg, Ecuador, and now settling in Florida, it somehow got shuffled underneath a pile of things that I promised myself I'd eventually "get around to."
I always find my way back to these things, especially books that have encouraged me or challenged me during a difficult time in my life. In fact, the last time I picked up this book was when I was praying about whether or not to pack up my life in Lynchburg and head to Ecuador. The pain was overbearing, yet there it was on October 27, telling me this... The strongest and greatest character is grown through hardship.
I want so desperately to tell you that the events of this past year have turned me into some type of spiritually-head strong superwoman. To be honest, they have shaken me in places I never realized needed "shaking." They have brought me back to the basics, a place where I must pray that God gives me hope for the future, or simply hope to make it through the day. I dare tell you that there are plenty of days, like today in particular, where I look in the mirror and wonder what in the world is going to become of my life, who is going to love me, and why I don't have a "five year plan." Truth be told, I don't even have a five month plan, or a five week plan; I just kind of "go with the flow," trusting that eventually I'll know more than I presently do.
With this in mind, imagine reading the following words: "Nothing that is not part of God's will is allowed to come into the life of someone who trusts and obeys Him. This truth should be enough to make our life one of ceaseless thanksgiving and joy, because God's will is the most hopeful, pleasant, and glorious thing in the world."
Ceaseless thanksgiving and joy... our lives must embody it even when we don't feel it; we must have an attitude of praise, even when we find our circumstances in shambles. Ceaseless joy is not condemning or selfish, but it accepts all things, both good and bad, as if they come from the same gracious hand.The more I learn about God as the days progress, the more I realize they truly do.
That being said, I can do nothing but thank God for this past year. My journey through grief and loneliness has surely not been an easy one, but I do trust that the One who holds my life does so with such tender hands of love. He is writing the story of my life and of my love, and though the tears come more often than I unveil to those around me, I wouldn't have it any other way. God's plan for my life is the most hopeful, pleasant, and glorious thing in the world. With clenched hands, I will cling to it, believe it, fight for it, and at the end of the day, I will rest in it.
I also want to thank so many of you who have gone to the trenches and bled with me throughout this past year; your compassion has meant the world to me. I am so thankful for the family and friends who have comforted me, prayed for me, encouraged me, listened to me, cried with me, dreamed with me, and even jumped on an airplane with me. I could have never done this alone, and I still can't. Your compassion and kindness has continually pointed me to hope in Jesus when I needed it the most. From the bottom of my heart, truly, I thank you.
My precious God is not finished with my heart, nor is He finished with yours.
Be encouraged by the following prayer... it has been the prayer of this season and has led me to a precious hope that I can never let go of. I pray it is the unceasing song of my life. He has been so good to me.
"O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the light to my eyes, or I will die.
Don't let my enemies gloat, saying, "We have defeated him!" Don't let them rejoice at my downfall.
But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord because he has been so good to me."