the struggle and the glory…
I had a moment this morning.
One of those moments… the really picturesque ones.
The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, I had a cup of hot coffee in my hand and all four of my kiddos were lined up on the front step for a first day of school pic.
My three-year-old started preschool today and all four of them were really excited. My bigs even got up early, on their own, so they could help Zeke get ready for his first day and take pictures with him before they left.
All four cuddled in tight, laughing and hugging, and said CHEEESSSSEEEE.
Then they got in a circle, placed their hands on Zeke’s head and shoulders and prayed for his first day of school. He stood there, unmoving, eyes squeezed shut, and yelled “amen!” when it was over.
You guys, I am not even kidding.
It’s an amazing thing to watch your children love Jesus and love each other. There is nothing quite like it. And it was especially sweet because we had a really challenging weekend. Sometimes, having bigs and littles is not very glamorous. In fact, if I’m being honest, most of the time it is really hard. I always feel like we are one big clustered mess.
This weekend, everyone was frustrated. The littles know exactly how to make their big siblings crazy. The bigs get tired of the constant tantrums. The littles get tired of getting dragged to all the bigs’ stuff. The bigs get tired of having to help me with the littles. The list goes on.
Don’t get me wrong, my bigs are amazing – they are super helpful and I have no idea what I would do without them. But the littles are in a phase… a phase of hitting and yelling and defying their bigs. Apparently, it’s not fun to help your little brother get into a swing only to have him hit you in the face. At least that’s what my bigs tell me. Sigh.
It’s frustrating. It’s exhausting. It’s…
I’ve prayed. I’ve cried. I’ve read books. I’ve sought wise council. I’ve eaten chocolate.
It’s still hard.
But a thought struck me this morning as I was photographing my tribe on the front steps…
The current ugliness of our typical day-to-day made the sweetness of this morning so much sweeter and infinitely more meaningful. I appreciated it so much more than I would have if this stage in life was easy and I didn’t have to rely so heavily on God to get through it.
The struggle and the unconditional love that we have to practice on a daily basis makes us all the more grateful for the times that we get along.
I THINK FAITH IS LIKE THAT.
For most of my life, I have wrestled with hardship; begging God to take the hard things away, fix the mess, or make the pain better. I was certain that was how he could best show his love for me.
He doesn’t always answer the way I’d like. However, the struggle that I endure while I wait for resolution makes his grace, his glory, his goodness all the more amazing when he does.
In John 11, Jesus’ friend, Lazarus, gets sick and dies. What makes this story noteworthy, however, is that Jesus could have prevented his death. He hears Lazarus is sick, but he waits two more days before going to see him and by then it is too late. Lazarus is gone.
His sisters are stricken with grief and loss, admonishing Jesus that if he had come sooner, they wouldn’t have lost their brother. In response, Jesus says “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
Then he raises Lazarus from the dead. HE BRINGS A DEAD MAN BACK TO LIFE.
What an awesome display of power and glory! Unparalleled. Sovereign. Majestic.
Can you imagine seeing that happen?
He could have prevented the death, and all of the grief and pain that accompanied it, but he didn’t. He waited and then showed even more of his glory instead; but the pain had to precede the glory.
I think the story of Lazarus demonstrates that sometimes what is best for us is the struggle, the pain, the hard stuff. We see even more of the glory of God in our lives when he waits to answer. Because when he does answer, and we get to glimpse his splendor from the depth of the pit, we are changed. We grow. We trust. We believe. It’s sweeter because it means more after the struggle.
John 1:14-16 says, “ And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…for from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” Seeing God for all that he is gives us the grace we need to see him and believe in him.
I believe because I’ve seen and experienced his glory. The glory of a God who is good and who loves me unconditionally. The glory of a God who can perform miracles, but also carry me through hard times. The glory of a God who loves me enough to let me endure hard things so that I can see him more fully and be forever changed. My faith is so much deeper than it was when my life was easy. The trials are giving me grace upon grace to trust him more, making his love for me feel so much sweeter than it felt before.
The struggle is real folks.
Our hearts want the struggle to disappear… but there is infinite value in seeing his glory in the midst of our hardship: because a glimpse of his glory is better for us than a life without pain.
If we let them, struggles increase our faith and shine a light for others to see God, increasing their faith as well.
I’ve tried to change the way that I approach hardship to reflect my trust in His sovereignty. I still pray for God to take away the hard stuff, but I also thank him for the hardships too. I thank him for teaching me how to depend on him, for sending his Spirit to give me the strength to endure, and for showing his glory through my circumstances. I promise to praise him and glorify him in the good and in the bad, and I do.
And I savor his glory like I will savor the memory of my children this morning, to the full.
No matter your challenge, it’s my honor to partner with you and pray for you on the journey. Please email or message me if I can help in any way. Let’s do this faith journey together.
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