Hope Filled Affliction

I want to preface this post by saying I wrote this weeks ago. Never published it and realize now, I think God was having me wait for the perfect time. I can’t go into detail right now, but I’m in the middle of yet ANOTHER storm. Another time of getting to choose to walk head first into hard stuff—or go the other way. So as I sat down to write today, I happened to pull this draft I had going but not yet published…read it and knew instantly, today was the day to do press the publish button. For myself, but also for anyone else who is hurting, grieving or just needs to be reminded that there is always reason to praise. Always reason to rejoice.

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Today I want to share with you good news. My chains are gone. God has redeemed my life in ways I didn’t know possible. During this past year when I felt so alone and sad and just plain scared, I know now that it was so I could learn to be continually emptied of myself so that I could be filled back up with so much more.  And honestly, I can’t believe I can say this—but I am so grateful for my addiction…because it was the precise thing that God used to break me. Free me. Begin to heal me. So today, my darkness is turning to light. My shame is turning into freedom. And my guilt and nasty cloud of condemnation…well simply put, God’s taking that away bit by bit. And every time he takes something away that he’s been asking for, for far too long….he knows how to replace it with something so much better……..

HOPE. Despite great trials in my life, some major destruction caused by none other than myself, years of living in the dark and believing too many lies, today I stand before you a changed woman. Not by my own doing either—only by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Seriously. I was shackled on every extremity and today I am free. And you want to know something…in exchange for my Savior freeing me from my last shackle—-he is giving me a new heart!!! And because of this, I will never be the same.

PEACE. Which clearly cannot come from the quiet world we live in—because let’s face it, our world is SO distracted. But despite the world’s enemy’s greatest attempts of distracting me, those attempts of diversion, pale in comparison to my God’s truths. Because of this, my soul is able to rest in this quiet assurance of His presence…His forgiveness…His freedom. I have peace from exposing my secrets—my shame. I have peace from being vulnerable and allowing myself to be genuinely known. And not just by God either, but by other human beings that I can trust with myself. I have peace because of HOPE.

JOY. And not the type of joy that is defined in the dictionary as ‘a feeling of great pleasure and happiness’…NO! I am talking about the joy that comes from knowing my God is in full throttle control of all of the days of my life. And not just mine either—but of those people in my life whom I love the most. I don’t really agree with the stance that joy has to do with a feeling. Because I’m going to tell you something right now that just might change your life. 🙂 People. Feelings are temporary. Sort of like ‘falling in and out of love’. Love has nothing to do with feelings either….it’s a choice. Joy comes from a determined and difficult choice to praise God in the midst of suffering. It’s knowing that even in the depth of our pain from living in a fallen and broken world—there is always HOPE. And that alone for me is something to be joyous over.

SURRENDER. You see, this one for me is huge. Really, I think it is for all of us. I don’t think there is one human being out there that I have ever met that doesn’t like to be in control. In some way, shape or form. Some people are just more obvious about it than others. But here’s what God has so graciously been teaching me. I don’t need to kick myself when I start trying to be in control again. I don’t need to feel guilty because I’m not ‘good’ at being a natural surrender-er. All I need to do is when I catch myself in those moments—which I do—then I need to give whatever it is I’m trying to be in control of again back to my God I trust. That’s it. No self deprecation or feelings of shame…just give it back to him yet again, and move on. And this whole concept of surrender—it’s scary. Even though I KNOW God’s ways are much greater than mine—it’s still scary. Yet every time, He meets me there. In my weakness, He is strong. Every time I let go and allow Him to work—he blows my mind. Even when I ‘think’ I know how it’s going to turn out or how it ‘should’ turn out—-he does it so much different. Often times, so much better than I ever could have possibly imagined.

So I’m not going to sit here today and say my life is perfect and rosey—because it’s not. But what it is—-is free, grateful….forgiven. I can finally and clearly recognize that my mountain high pile of garbage (aka sin—my own and also others who have harmed me) doesn’t stand between me and my God. No, no, no. Instead, he stands right next to me in front of that pile and takes my hand and says, ‘I’ve been right here the whole time. Waiting. Pursuing. And most of all, loving you. Now let me take all of that and make it beautiful. Together, with my power and your surrender—beauty will rise from the darkest ashes. But don’t think you know how this should look or will look, because you can’t even imagine…’ How can I say no to that? So today what I will say, yet again, is YES! I humbly receive your gifts, my gracious God!!! Today, and always, I will stand my ground—where hope can be found.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7-9

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