Now let me just begin right here with a confession. I have spent countless hours with the heaviness of worry wrapped around my shoulders and the burden of weariness lodged in my chest. So I am no stranger to the subject I’m addressing.
Years and years ago, as a high school dropout and teenage mother, I was broke and jobless and felt as useless as a broom with no bristles. It seemed every attempt I made to pull myself up and out of my fix only solidified me more firmly into the mire. Those were some long days and restless nights that spanned the course of a few years. Thoughts whirled endlessly through my worrying head and no solution was found, no peace attained from the mental anguish I spawned.
I think back to those times often as I recall the wasted energy, the lack of peace, the missed joy. I was a mother then with a bright, beautiful, wonderful child who needed only the simplest things, if only I could have realized. I was fretting about things and money, both of which we had to have for survival, but truly those things were there, if not from the work of my own willing hands, from that of loving others, and I would find my way in time, with God’s help to a place of independence from the help that troubled me.
You see, I was still growing myself and had a long way to go before being fully adult, yet I had jumped right into that big, demanding world of responsibility and felt it was surely going to break me if I didn’t figure out a way to make it without having to take the help of others. I was ashamed of needing help. I was just plain and simply ashamed of me…
My little child had no idea of any of that. She just needed her mother to smile, to play with her, to rest with her, to be content. If only I could have trusted that God would see me through. That in time all things would work out for surely I was willing. I would do my part, but I took no comfort in such a thought. I was too young yet to recognize the truth of how life works.
If only I had taken to heart the scriptures and focused on them and the unchanging messages found therein, I could have had some peace. There would indeed have been work for me to do, but I could have done all the things that led to a better life without the worry, without the stress, if only I had known to and had the heart to trust.
“…Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.” (Matthew 6:25-29)
I’ve thought a great deal about this scripture. It is not implying that we have no work to do as one might think upon first glance. Instead, it points out that God provides for the birds and for the flowers to do exactly what He created them to do. Scriptures admonish us to work diligently, to not be slothful in business, to work heartily as unto the Lord, but we are not to worry or fret as long as we do these things. We can rest assured, He will provide all of our needs when we surrender to living according to His will, to do what He has created us to do, and that indeed includes work.
God used those times of my early struggles to build some very important attributes in my character. He taught me to be humble. He developed patience and endurance in me. He gave me a grateful heart that continues all these years later to be filled with thanksgiving for the many blessings I might otherwise have taken for granted. He also built compassion and mercy into my attitude toward others as a result of having walked a hard road, feeling downtrodden and less than others. I also came to know the blessing of having a job. Once I was blessed with regular work and a good salary, I engaged it with enthusiasm and great joy, recognizing it as a gift from the Lord and I worked with diligence and integrity as a result.
I well remember a Christmas Eve that I served on-call for the hospital. I was called out to Redmond at about 4am. I was expecting Noah then, about 4 to 5 months along, and it was freezing cold, down in the teens or low twenties. I was driving there in my nice, warm car wrapped in my cozy wool coat and I felt an overwhelming sense of grace covering me. I knew God had so richly blessed my life and had provided in abundance for me and my family and I was glad to go and see the person that had found himself there in need on such a special day…Christmas. If not for my previous difficulties, I might have had a different heart, a different attitude, but because of my own suffering I could be very sensitive to his. I’m very thankful for that.
The benefit of the life lessons I’ve learned through personal struggles have far exceeded the cost. I hope this helps to encourage those who are facing hardships by reminding you there are often treasures to be found in the difficult process of digging your way out.