The diagnosing of my seemingly healthy three-month-old son with a chronic and often progressive disease quickly thrust my life into hardship mode. I went from being an overjoyed new mommy to the completely bewildered state as the mom of a sick little boy.
I remember often being on my knees begging God to heal my little boy’s heart or to let me trade places with him. Many times there were no words to my prayers, only quiet mutterings between me and the Lord. I knew that God was able to heal my son and I prayed like I’d never prayed before for Him to grant me that.
At the same time, I prayed for peace. I prayed for His peace to wash me and to give me strength when I had none left of my own.
One time in particular, as I was sobbing and praying over my little one all hooked up to medical equipment and monitoring devices in his hospital crib, I literally felt the peace of God pour over me. I can’t explain it other that when I lifted my head again, I was stronger. I was at peace knowing God was in control and cradling my little boy in His hands.
Through my experiences, I’ve come to realize the connection between hardships and peace. If I allow hardships to be used as God wishes them to be, I’ll always find peace at the end of them. Romans 5:3-4 says that we are to "rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." That hope, even in the midst of the most painful trial, is that God will sustain me with His peace. And in the process, make me more reliant on Him.
I used to overhear someone talk about a struggle and how they would not "give it back" if they could and cynically I’d think to myself, Yeah right. I assumed it was making the best of a bad situation and that it was similar to the bride being told that rain on a wedding day is good luck. How ignorant I was and how right and wise they were!
Over the years, God has allowed my life to be filled with many struggles. In addition to
having a chronically ill child with both medical and developmental issues, I’ve walked through infertility, a near-death child birthing experience, my husband’s loss of a job, medical school, infidelity, moving, and changing jobs.
Now let’s be real, I’m more than happy to have and often pray for a period of smooth sailing in my life that I hope is to come, but I can truthfully say now that I wouldn’t give back any of these struggles even if I could. At each of these points in my life I was driven to my knees in prayer and made to be totally reliant on the Lord. I’ve come to learn personally, as 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, that "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."
For me, it’s way too easy to fall into the trap and the illusion of self-sufficiency. Things are going well. I must be doing something right. I’m a strong woman. I can do this. I have it under control. And sure enough the next thing to slip is my prayer life. I find that I do not have real peace in my life but instead a feel of disease. I feel distant from God but that is OK because things are going well. Right? Wrong!
Now I’m not saying that God has allowed bad things to happen to me to punish my self-sufficiency. But I do believe that He’s allowed things to happen to bring me back to Him and to help me learn how reliant I truly am upon Him. He hasn’t caused the bad things, but He has been my way through them.
God has used adversity to help illustrate to me that I can’t do it on my own. I will never be sufficient. I will always fail and give in to sin if left to my own means. It’s only through His grace and His mercy and His strength that I continue on.
I like the analogy of the refiner’s fire. I mean, I don’t know anyone who likes or would willingly walk into flames. But when we find ourselves in the fire because life has put us there, if we let Him, God will use it to refine us. To make us into gold. We won’t leave that fire the same as we went in. With God’s grace and our total reliance on Him, we’ll come out the other side more Christ-like.
Today my son is a four-year-old boy with the energy of two boys. He has beaten so many medical odds and defied expert opinions. I prayed and prayed for an instant miracle—an overnight healing. But that wasn’t in God’s plan. If I’d gotten that instant healing, I’d have missed out on all that my son and his illness has taught me over the past 4 years.
I’ve learned so much in the journey. God knew that I had to and would come to peace in trusting my little one’s life to Him. He knew that my son and his illness with all its ups and downs would make me stronger and yet at the same time more reliant on our Savior.
Through the hardships in my life, God has carried me with His peace. And He will carry me through the ones to come. I can only pray that the tears of being in the struggle don’t blind me to the purpose of the struggle. I hope that I can "be still,
and know that [He] is God" (Psalm 46:6) and He will always be enough.
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Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
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