Friday, October 3, 2014

Finding the Joy in Each Season of Life

My favorite season of the year is here! I LOVE FALL! I love pumpkin spice lattes, cooler weather, Fall wreaths, Thanksgiving, mums, soccer, and many other things. I love when people go around saying, "Happy Fall, Y'all!" I love being able to actually enjoy a hot cup of coffee in the morning and then not burning up after because it's hot outside. I love being able to wear sweaters and boots. When the evenings are crisp and cool, I love being outside. I prefer cooler weather over hot weather. I would rather live where it's colder than hotter. Yep, I know. Crazy!

Sometimes, the hardest part for me is when summer weather lingers on. It gets to October and it still feels hot outside. It takes my joy away, like seriously! As soon as it starts to really turn to Fall, I become a blissful person. We all have favorite seasons that we look forward to with the weather. I would definitely say mine is Fall.

(These are Fall sunsets from our neck of the woods. Yes, this brings me joy!)

But I want to reflect for a minute on how God gives us different seasons. Not only does He give us different seasons of weather, but also seasons of life. Some seasons are full of sadness, such as when there has been a loss. Some seasons are full of worry and anxiety. Some seasons are really great and a person feels on cloud nine. Just like the weather, we endure the hard seasons to get to the good seasons. We never stay in those brutal seasons forever, although it sometimes can feel that way. Sometimes those hard seasons last for years.

My husband and I are in a season of big changes for our family. More or less, I feel sad about leaving this wonderful home where I can admire God's creation on a day-to-day basis. Yet, there are other emotions I feel about the changes as well. Some days, I feel really excited for the future. Other days, I feel overwhelmed by all that we have to do to get to the next place we are going in our lives. I am exhausted and I begin to grow weary. I start to question how it will all work. But it's not up to me on how it all happens.

"I have gone before you and prepared a place for you. Do not worry. I have it all planned out." This is what I hear God telling me through this process of change. As exciting, crazy, and scary it is all at the same time, I just need to put my trust in Him 100%. It's funny how much we can worry ourselves about tomorrow when God has it all planned out for us already. So I come back to that realization and let go of my fears, which is what worry is all about anyway.

Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

When I face those seasons where sadness, worry, anxiety, anger, frustrations, or pessimism starts to sink in, I need to remember that I am being tested. Things cannot be GREAT all of the time. If it were, we would never have any reason to rely on God. Have you ever noticed that when times are tough, we lean more on God? As soon as things get better, we feel great and our relationship with God gets thrown on the backburner. Sorry, God! It isn't intentional.

But then again, what is intentional? Is our sadness intentional? How about our hopelessness? Our emotions can be the real deal. It's how we handle those emotions that gets us to tomorrow. Never give up hope. Once we start losing that hope, we stop trusting God.

Hebrews 6:19-20 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

I have lots of little ones here at home with me. Some days are peachy-keen and everyone is in a good mood. But low and behold, someone wakes up on the wrong side of the bed one morning and we have lots of bickering going on. My husband has a great word he uses for days that start out this way. He tells everyone that they need to "re-group." And we do! Sometimes, I pull everyone together and we talk about how the day started and how we can make it end better. We pray together as a family and wow, what a change!

Praying can be our best asset in those difficult seasons. Leaning on God and asking Him for changed hearts can really make a difference. When things are hard, I like to think of Job. I've always thought that the book of Job was one of the most challenging books of the Bible. Job suffered a great deal loosing his livestock, his family, and developing a skin illness. What I find so amazing about Job is that he never turns his back on God, even in the midst of all of his suffering.

Job 27:2-6 As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul, as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit. I will never admit you are in the right, till I die, I will not deny my integrity. I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.

Lord, when I go through the different seasons of life, I pray that my relationship with You grows. Help me be strong through my suffering like Job. Draw me close to You. I thank you, Lord, for both the good times and bad. I pray that I can remain joyful always, giving thanks even under he hard circumstances in life. I lift up the current situation of the persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Lord, lead them to a place where they can feel safe. I pray you provide for them the food, water, clothing, and places to sleep that are needed. I pray that they stay strong through their difficult circumstances and that you bring relief to them soon. Amen.

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