Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tough times?

Dear friends,

This is a little something from my monthly family letter that I sent out last week...

I know that many of you are going through exceedingly tough times right now with health issues, financial woes, family relationship crises, and assorted inner turmoils. Especially in the past few years, I have been learning more about growing stronger and deeper in the midst of challenging circumstances. The temptation is to frantically try to fix things as fast as possible or at least, in a flurry of activity, to distract ourselves from our distress. Even if our self-imposed efforts are spiritual and noble, we can totally we miss the point.

Trials are often sent to get our attention, to draw us home to the only One who can truly satisfy our longings and heal our hurts. At times, God takes away the presents so he can give us his presence instead. (Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, those who believe in him have free access to the throne room of grace and mercy in time of need.) There are other blessings in disguise. Enduring tough times can enable us to connect more completely with those around us, either because we are finally desperate enough to ask for help or because we finally understand enough about their struggles to show a little extra compassion. There are new choices, too… We can stop placing such stringent expectations on others, and instead guard against our own unhealthy reactions toward those who disappoint us. We can humble ourselves enough to seek God's guidance, rather than just plowing ahead with whatever solution seems most efficient at the moment. We can survive with less clutter and start to appreciate simple blessings. Our lives can become less compulsive and more compelling. We can become real, authentic, sincere people, rather than cold, hard, shallow shells. We can allow ourselves to feel and grieve and then move on, instead of covering it all over with a superficial happy face. That's when the deeper peace and joy come along -- as the inner calm right in the middle of the tempestuous storm. For that, we can be thankful, any time of the year. As we often sing at our house:
"Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."
Psalm 30:4-5

I pray that God will richly pour out his tender mercies for each of you, from the inside out. Look for it!

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