Pure Joy

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."--James 1:2-4 So far, things have been moving along smoothly in our adoption journey. We have been tackling the mounds of paperwork (at least my husband has) and are in the process of putting together our dossier, which is a packet of documents, letters and such that we will eventually send to China so they can get to know us. We completed a major hurdle last month, the home study, and are now awaiting the notarized copies so that we can proceed to the next step.

I must admit that at first, I just assumed that we would tackle things and they would get done. I honestly didn't think that we would hit any roadblocks. After all, we are doing what God wants us to do, right? Surely when we are following God's plans, then He will make sure that everything goes smoothly (in other words, the way I want it to go).

So when I received the news two months ago that my required urine test came back abnormal, I was surprised. That surprise has turned into concern, two months and five tests later, when I failed all of them. At this point, we are not sure why, so I am scheduled to go in for a abdominal/pelvic CT scan this coming Tuesday to discern of there are internal issues that are underneath it all.

I wish I could say that I handled this with grace and faith. When it comes to health issues, I tend to freak out, imagining the worst scenarios. I wondered, Why isn't God doing anything? I am just following the directions, doing my part. Why isn't God doing His? Why is He adding more to my already full plate? Did we hear wrong? Are we out of His will?

As I stewed on this today, I realized one thing: following Jesus doesn't mean that everything goes smoothly, even if you are following His will. I knew that in my head, and have even told my kids that, but somehow that didn't translate into my life. The truth of what I believed revealed itself as I questioned God and doubted His care for me.

I am realizing there are other factors at work here. First, I am a human being, made of dust. I am aging. I am not perfect. It is simply a part of living in this world. Why should I be surprised? Second, even if God could prevent these things from happening, even if He is not the cause of them, I need to trust that His heart for me is always good (Rom. 8:28). James reminds me that when I face trials, one of the greatest benefits is that God grows my faith, develops perseverance and leads me into maturity. And the methods He often uses is taking us through difficulty.

As I spent some time praying this morning, God taught me a lot. He is teaching me how to pray---not for an answer that I want, but for His will to be done in my life and in the life of my family. If anyone is really in control, it is not me, but God.

He is also reminding me that today is today and that I should not worry about tomorrow. Instead, I need to take advantage of the moments I do have right now instead of stewing over unknowns that I cannot see. I need to enjoy today, love my kids, enter into the work that He has given me for the hours I have before me. When I feel the fear creeping in, I am asking God to help me to trigger a thankful and prayerful heart.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and to join with us in our adoption journey. We are realizing how precious it is to be going through this with family and friends. If you are also in a trial of your own today, I hope and pray that the Lord may be your focus and that He will help you to spend your energies trusting Him, not in worry. Somehow, I have this twisted belief that if I worried enough, God would have pity on me and spare me the pain. I am realizing that if I am honest with myself, my worry can be a way I am trying to manipulate God.

And so, whether you are dealing with a defiant preschooler, a distant spouse, or a health issue of your own, I pray that you will allow the Lord to bear that burden for you and grow you in your character and soul. May the Lord be glorified in both you and me as we walk through our valleys with Him.