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Learning to Count Trials a Joy by Kim Shay

 23.4.11

Kim Shay, a Canadian woman who is an example to me of someone who is passionate about studying the Word of God and digging deep into it, is our host this day. Kim blogs at The Upward Call, and I encourage you to check her blog and subscribe to it. You will be more than once,  challenge to learn.

Kim says: 

"I see the Christian life as a process of sanctifying the ordinary, 
and there is much beauty and blessing in that context."

Shiloh Photography


I love being a mom. I made a decision 21 years ago that I would leave my job and be at home with my children as long as we were able to live on one income. It is a decision I have never regretted. I also loved homeschooling. Those years from 2001-2009 were among the happiest of my parenting life. Our kids were pretty good. They were growing and learning.

Having a prodigal child took me totally by surprise, and when it was our daughter, it was even more of a shock, because we didn't know that underneath that compliant exterior, inside she was churning. We went from having a perfectly good relationship with her to being confused, shattered, and reeling. My heart ached with an ache I had never known before. No mother wants to look into the eyes of her child and see anger and conflict where once there was trust and love. I walked about like a woman in a daze, regularly unable to pray, because uttering it out loud made it seem more real to me. My mind would look back at the good times, and I would find myself suddenly in tears throughout the day (one occasion was in a grocery store much to my embarrassment), wondering where things were going.

The first question that pops up in the head of parents when this happens is, “Where did I go wrong?” It is the plea out of a hurting heart, because when we sit and think about it, taking all of the blame for a wayward child is similar to taking the glory for when he does right. The truth was that I had most definitely taught my child the truth of God's Word. The painful and shocking truth is that solid, Christian families are not immune from having children who stray. Sometimes, growing up in the church is a seedbed of complacency that may not surface until a child is older. Complacency isn't good. It took me a long time to stop asking myself that question, and it was good when I stopped, because that question was not helping. To sit back and catalogue my own shortcomings led only to bitterness and anger. There were times when I was so angry at my child for what was going on that I could barely speak to her; and those times were followed by searing pain in my heart that I would ever feel such anger toward my child. No mother wants to feel anger at her child. We don't; it hurts so much to feel it.

I could feel myself slipping into a depression; I recognized the symptoms, having had a brief bout with it in 1996. I knew that I could not slip into that abyss, so I had to do something. I did what I know best: I studied. Beginning first with reading through the psalms regularly, I also picked up Martyn Lloyd-Jones's book Spiritual Depression. I began to look at my own heart. I began to ask that question which the psalmist asks in Psalm 42:

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you in turmoil within me?

I began to do what Lloyd-Jones suggested: I began to speak to myself about where I was. As I read through the Psalms I was reminded of the precious truth of God's sovereignty. I was reminded that God is faithful to His covenant promises, and despite the fear of the future which gripped me (would she ever return to the Lord, would we ever enjoy fellowship again, would she ever stop living the way she was?), I knew that He held the future in His hands. When we fear for the future, it isn't the circumstances we fear, necessarily; we fear our inability to cope. We fear that we will crash and burn, that we will fade away. My fear was that I would be eaten alive by the grief that I felt. The biggest grief was the loss of fellowship with our daughter; the distance, the alienation. I was so incredibly lonely for her, it tore my heart up daily. But knowing that God is sovereign over the sorrow and the joy released me from that crippling grief. I had to release my daughter to Him as well. There were a number of older women in my life, one in particular who reminded me often that I simply had to trust in God's promises to me. As I released these burdens, I was more able to give myself to other things.

When we have children who wander, it affects the entire family. They tend to hold the rest of us hostage, and I'm sure my boys noticed this. As I began to live in the light of this precious doctrine that God is sovereign over all and knows all and that his steadfast love will never leave me, I was able to set aside my grief. It was not gone, but I could live with it.

I am blessed to say that my daughter is finding her way back. It is still a process; her faith is gaining strength slowly. It is a journey she must make on her own, although never alone. Our children must claim their faith as their own, and not rely on the faith of their parents. She is doing that now. And our fellowship has been restored. She is not the same little girl she was before, but in going through this sovereignly ordained trial, we have all learned much. I have learned of the terrible risk of complacency in teenagers; when we see apathy, we must be ever more diligent in determining where they stand. I have learned that we as parents must be equipped to answer hard questions, because if we don't, someone else will, and we may not like those answers. I have learned that my child's character will not grow apart from trials of her own. To expect a trial-free childhood is to rob the child of valuable learning opportunities. I wouldn't want this to happen again, but I'm thankful for some of the consequences. Sometimes, God must rip things out of our hands if we're not willing to let go of them. And when He does, we must know that He does it for our good.

The gift of being the child of a God who knows all and sees all continues to blow my mind. It continues to comfort me, and it has helped me to accept that trials are a part of his sovereign working. James 1:2-4 reminds us: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know hat the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” It took a while, but eventually, I did count that trial a joy, and it is only through God's grace that I was able to do that.


Kim

©Kim Shay


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Becky
If I am happy it is because of God! God, in His sovereign grace, has called me out of darkness into His Admirable light. He has opened my eyes and has shown me the way to Eternal Life. He has set my feet on a journey, and now I am walking Daily on My Way to Heaven. I did not find Jesus, He found me. I did not seek Him, yet He called me. I did not love Him, yet He loved me. I deserved death and He gave me Life. This is the place where I keep a journal of my life under His sun and by His grace!
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Borrowed Words

"It becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven... to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labor for or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end and true happiness?"

Jonathan Edwards

"I am still pondering God's greatness in His creation. I have so many questions that I would like to ask the Lord about the universe, creation, the fall of man... But when I'm in heaven, I wonder if I will even remember them. At that time, being in the presence of God will be enough. I'm thankful that I can look forward to that day."

-Persis

“Heaven is not here, it’s There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.”

- Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart



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