Friday, February 1, 2008

Hardship and Joy

“Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2:3 NIV

Yesterday, I spoke of things that I gave up in order to follow God. Each time it was incredibly difficult to make the choice. I fought tooth and nail with God, especially the first two I listed, because I couldn't see how giving them up and choosing the path God was directing me to could bring me anything but misery and pain. As for getting up early in the morning to come to my prayer room, I've always wanted to be able to do that but it seemed impossible to give up the sleep I seemed to never get enough of.

Yes, in each case I made a conscious choice for what seemed to be incredible hardship however, I want you to know that every single time, God turned the pain into sweet joy. Twenty-eight years after choosing to return to my husband, things are better than they have ever been and continue to get even better.

When I chose to leave Pearl, I was raging angry at God for about a week for not letting us even be friends. But then God changed my heart in some radical ways and so, even though I still miss her, I am very glad I made the choice I did. God has become more real to me than I ever thought possible.

As for not sleeping in anymore, well, it's an amazing thing. I'm now waking and getting before my alarm rings. There's a draw, a pull, that makes me look forward to leaving the warmth and comfort of my bed on the second floor to come to the much cooler prayer room in the basement.

With each point of decision in our lives, we have to make the choice. No one, not even God, will make it for us. But once we've chosen God's way, things change. God rewards those who diligently seek him. Not always right away. It took years for our marriage to improve, for example. Sometimes God tests us to see if we'll hold to the choice we've made and sometimes there are other reasons for hardship and pain but God always enables us to follow through on the good choices we've made.

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