Stress. That would be the single word that best describes the last few years of my life. So much so that when we rounded the corner into to the coming year, I began to pray, “Lord, will You please grant me a season of rest?” I was so weary that it didn’t seem like a selfish thing to ask for. I felt like I wouldn’t be able to keep going without some time to re-energize.
Maybe I just wasn’t specific enough in my request… ‘cuz I was kind of thinking about several months, maybe even a whole year of rest! And initially, it seemed like there were some things happening that might be setting me up for a little bit easier road ahead. I was wrong.
There were some minor bumps in the road during January and February, but I was faring pretty well. By March, many of the things that appeared to be unfolding in a positive way just a few weeks earlier, were falling through or falling apart. The word ‘stress’ became a gross understatement for what I was going through. It felt like I was carrying the world on my shoulders. If I had felt weary before, now I was barely surviving each day.
But then I did. I survived. And I learned. And I remembered about the other thing I had prayed.
Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. –Hebrews 12: 1
I’m not saying that God doesn’t sometimes give us seasons of rest and rejuvenation. In all honesty, I’m still praying for one! But I began to realize that the real work God had for me was in peeling away the layers that hindered me in being able to live the life He has set before me with joy and contentment.
My year continued to be filled with trials and difficulties, but as the months went by I was able to start living out James 1: 2, “Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
As each new challenge presented itself, I got better at not spiraling into a tailspin. My faith was enlarged. My endurance was improving. And in the midst of it all, God put His faithfulness on display through some pretty miraculous provisions.
I’m thankful beyond measure that God loves me enough to strip away everything that hinders. The road has been tough and messy. I’ve resorted to meltdown mode more times than I’d really care to acknowledge. But my loving Father reached down each and every time to pick me up and wipe my tears. He knew better than I did that I wouldn’t really enjoy a season of rest when I still had so many things hindering my ability to find peace in Him.
Who knows? Perhaps time will bring the respite my heart desires. Maybe it won’t. But either way, I sing praise to the One who holds me in His tender, mighty hand and loves me through my mess.