Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Before I go any further in this journal, I feel I would be remiss (what exactly does that word mean anyways?) if I didn't clarify some things.
First and foremost, I am a Christian. Yes, one of those. These days it is not entirely popular to say you are 'born again' or 'a follower of Christ'. It becomes a stigma, but one which I will gladly carry with me until the end of my days.
Having said that, I feel I must clarify further. I do believe the Bible is the word of God, that is, God breathed. And because I believe that God is perfect and that He is truth, I believe that every word of the Bible is true. Do I always live it out? No. Do I always claim it and follow it and speak it? No. I also believe that I am not perfect, that I am in process, so mistakes are expected, and forgiven, once I come to a position of true repentance.
I know that sometimes the things I write are not exactly 'Christian'. Like my description of the Christmas party, or my constant worry. But I am human, with human frailties and make errors, just like any other human...
There, I said it....now I can continue.

I think sometimes people think that if you are a Christian, you should never have to face trials - that you are 'touched by God' and therefore exempt from all that life brings. Then, when a crisis occurs, the fact that it occurs to believers and non-believers alike is questioned - is there really a God? And if He is so loving, why would He let this happen to you?
These questions present perhaps the greatest barrier to belief in this day and age. We live in uncertain times - economic faltering, environmental disasters and crime rates that are higher than ever before.
I think of 3 families in particular:
1. A really good friend of mine had lived a really rather comfortable life - having admitted that she had never experienced real trial. She has 3 beautiful children, a loving husband, great parents, a nice house, all the good things that a normal life can bring. Then suddenly, and without warning, crisis came. Her husband, the sole financial support in the family, lost his job. This, after a year of looking for a better job (while still employed) - to no avail. Suddenly, he is home 24/7 and no solid prospects in the future.
Times like this induce panic in most people. And they can also bring a great crisis of faith - why would God let this happen? I work hard, I live a good life, I am faithful - so why, God, why? But really, there was very little of this. In fact, I was kind of shocked at the serenity my friend showed. Now I should not be shocked in the slightest, but I was. As Christians, we are told to "be anxious for nothing" and to put all of our trust in Jesus, but sometimes that is easier said than done.
Having been in this exact situation (both hubby and I unemployed, or very very short on cash) in very recent past, I reflect on how I handled the stress that comes with an uncertain financial future. I must admit that although I put on a brave face and tried to tell myself that it didn't matter, it really did matter and I really did worry. One day I will share the struggles we went through, but those are best left for another time.
So back to my friend. Is she worried? I really don't think so. She has shown such sweet serenity and patience, and has been a true example of faith under fire. I thank God for her.
2. Another good friend of mine has had an incredibly difficult year. First, she was planning a wedding with her wonderful best-friend-in-the-whole-world fiance, and found out she was pregnant. Now this is pretty amazing because as far as she had been told, she was not supposed to be able to get pregnant. So as much as this kind of threw a curve ball into the wedding prep, they were thrilled at the prospect of their miracle child.
I was beside myself in excitement for her - there are just some people that you really WANT to have children, some people so suited to be parents.....and these were two of those people.
Suddenly, and without warning, the unthinkable happened. Right before her due date, on a routine checkup, the doctor could not find a heartbeat. Her beloved child had passed before he was even born. My heart just about fell out of my chest...how on earth do you console someone in this situation?
I delicately delicately approached her via email - asking if I could come and see her, asking if I could do anything for her. Each time, she responded with a supernatural grace, integrity and peace. Seeing her in person, I was amazed at what was before me. There was no wailing, inconsolable, falling apart of a person - she was strong and assured that God had a special reason for calling her little boy home.
People can't make this stuff up. Either you believe it or you don't. And it wasn't just her - her hubby said the same thing. They knew, just knew in their heart of hearts that their little man was safely in the arms of God. That, my friends, is true faith.
These two lovebirds did go on to get married, in a wonderfully beautiful ceremony. Their love for each other is truly evident whenever you see them...
3. And the last family is one from my church. In the time that I have known them (about 15 years), they have suffered more health issues than imaginable - 2 of their sons have chronic illnesses, which constantly put them in hospital. The patriarch of the family has himself been plagued by heart problems serious enough to require surgery...it seems that each month brings a new problem.
You would think that year after year of trial and tribulation would be enough to flatten their faith, right? OH NO. Not at all. In fact, they are some of the strongest people I have ever met. They constantly praise God for what they have, not for what they have lost. These people really have it. Faith and an understanding of God's power, that is. They are true examples of perseverance.

When I think of these 3, and they are only 3 in a slew of people I know, I am struck by the futility of worrying about my own problems. My day to day issues pale in comparison to these situations mentioned above.
My prayer is that God would increase my faith - and if that comes through trial by fire, then so be it - I have some great role models to follow. May God bless you as well.

I may be a mother, but I am Not Your Average Mom

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