At New Year's a number of us gathered for fellowship and as the New Year dawned we were enjoying people's reflections of the past year/decade and how God has led them, through both good times and real trials.
Today this quote from Henri Nouwen reminded me of those thoughts. As we think about our lives, if we keep the Cross at the center of our vision, the perspective Jesus offers is ALWAYS pointed to hope.
"Jesus calls us to recognize that gladness and sadness are never separate, that joy and sorrow really belong together, and that mourning and dancing are part of the same movement. That is why Jesus calls us to be grateful for every moment that we have lived, and to claim our unique journey as God’s way to mold our hearts to greater conformity with God’s own. The cross is the main symbol of our faith, and it invites us to find hope where we see pain, and to reaffirm the resurrection where we see death. The call to be grateful is a call to trust that every moment of our life can be claimed as the way of the cross that leads us to new life."
- Henri Nouwen.
Not every why question can be answered. Our perspective is simply too limited, our minds too finite, our reason too tainted. We cast our cares upon the One who cares for us. We trust, even in the most trying of times, knowing that God is worthy of it. He alone knows and loves us perfectly.
Below is a quote from Fred Epstein that I found very thought-provoking.
'The question, “Why do children suffer?” has no answer, unless it’s simply, “To break our hearts.” Once our hearts get broken, they never fully heal. They always ache. But perhaps a broken heart is a more loving instrument. Perhaps only after our hearts have cracked wide open, have finally and totally unclenched, can we truly know love without boundaries.'
I was chatting with a friend recently who has faced adversity, and we were reminded of the wonderful truth of James 1:2-4, that testing develops endurance and strong faith. As my trust in Jesus grows, whether I feel stronger or not, I truly am. Relying on His strength is the spiritual sweet spot that adversity invites us to. His grace is sufficient.
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." (James 1:2-4 NLT)
Pastor Ward Parkinson