If I were to list the challenges I have faced during 2017, you might find my list compares, in number and challenge, toe to toe with yours. How do I know this? Well, because of what James wrote in the New Testament. He said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” (James 1:2)
He didn’t say, “if” we face trials. He said “when”. And he said we are to count it all joy. All of it. Why?
“…because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:3-4)
We all face these temporary struggles. It’s just when they seem to pile on at the same time or seem to come at us down a conveyor like in the candy factory scene on the I Love Lucy show that things can get tricky.
Our youngest son was in a car accident recently. That is not the kind of call any mother wants to get about her kid. Feeling terribly thankful that no one was seriously injured, I was still a bit emotional about the whole affair… and feeling more than a little bit overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed. That was my word for the day that day. I tried it on several times and decided, yes, I was feeling overwhelmed.
It didn’t help that I began listing out the issues currently on my plate. As I played out this ridiculous scene in my head, I began to feel the crushing weight of it all. I began feeling that no one person should have to handle of this at once or in succession. There was no way I could be expected to handle all of this… stuff.
And then it hit me. While I FELT overwhelmed, I was not, in actuality, overwhelmed. I began to do a word search for the word “overwhelmed” in scripture, and found a situation where people were really, truly overwhelmed. When Moses had safely led the Hebrews on foot and on dry land across the Red Sea, God released the waters which then came cascading down upon the Egyptian army that was in full pursuit of them. The Bible says right there in Deuteronomy 11:4 that the soldiers were overwhelmed by the waters. They didn’t FEEL overwhelmed, they actually were overwhelmed.
What I understand about feelings is that they will lie to us. I may feel a certain way about a person or situation, but in my head, I know the truth is far different than what I feel. I have to take control of those false feelings and stand upon what I know.
Here is what I know.
- I had a lot of tough things to deal with in 2017, but that is okay. God has created me to be a problem solver, and so I work each problem until I find a solution. And sometimes the solution is letting God handle that for which I have no clear solution.
- I cannot afford the luxury of giving in to my feelings. I have to stand upon the truth in order to withstand the trials that come in this life. There are no trials that are unique to me, and I should not be surprised when they come. See? It says so right here: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12)
- And finally, I am made of good stuff. I stand as a daughter of the Most High King. I do not wallow or whine (much). It does not mean that I won’t struggle, but even though I am hard pressed on every side, I am not crushed. I am often perplexed but I am not in despair. I may be persecuted, but I am never abandoned. I am struck down, but I am not destroyed. (Paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
- I am NOT overwhelmed.
As I start 2018, my plan is to give up the word, “overwhelmed” for a much better word. Because as I look at all that is likely to come this year, it could seriously become a theme. Instead, I believe my word for 2018 is trust. I will trust Him in my uncertainty. I will trust Him with plans. I will trust Him with my family. I will trust Him when it seems like there are not enough hours in the day to meet my obligations. I will trust Him when I cannot see the way. I will trust Him to make a way.
As you look to 2018, what word is the Lord leading you to stand in faith upon this year? Don’t know?