Silver Lining in Hardships

Have you ever felt such sadness when going through a struggle in your life, only to have it turn around and be one of the best things that could have ever happened?

If you’re currently going through a hardship or a struggle, I get it – it’s really hard to see the “other side”. During this time, some people get bitter and some people get better. You do one or the other – there’s nearly no gray areas here. For me, the greatest thing about a life struggle is seeing God’s hand at work. Usually it’s after the soreness of the hardship has worn off – it’s then, when you quiet your soul, that you start seeing things more clearly.

When I was going through my most recent life struggle (quite some time ago) it was extremely hard to understand why, but God has shown so many amazing blessings from that struggle.  You see, God had His plan. Maybe, just maybe (well, in my case I believe), God brought this struggle into my life to introduce me to a whole other world of amazing people that I’d have never known otherwise. It’s hard to see these types of things initially and in the middle of the hurt, but with time, when the smoke starts to clear, these things start to become intelligible.

During that tough season of my life, I got to know some amazing individuals that would later become so integral in my life.  At the time, though, I was oblivious to what God was doing. So let’s fast forward to the pruning season of life that God had planned to come a short time later for me. Yes, that was a struggle, as well – but you know what? These amazing people that God brought into my life surrounded me like bubble wrap and marshmallows, cared for me, counseled me and gave me a safe place to fall and a listening ear with Godly advice any time I needed it. Wow! I was so grateful at the time (and still am!), but looking back – how awesome was it that God had these people poised and ready for me when I needed them most. My all-knowing God was preparing to lift me up higher that I ever thought possible with His help and the help and prayers of these people, when the enemy just wanted me to plummet (that’s another blog in itself for later!). These people are now some of my closest friends, and I’d have never met them without going through that hardship in my life.  Now, quite some time later, I’m blessed to also be someone in their lives who is there for them during their own times of hardship and struggle.

Hmmm.. so this just may have been God’s plan all along, you say? Yep, I think so too!  This former wall-flower made the decision to get my shy self out there and trust God’s plan and I’ve found these amazing friends just by being myself – being transparent. Godly friends. People that live Godly lives. I desperately want to surround myself with Godly people, as I feel that is the truest form of friendship – fellowship and fun with other friends/believers who love God, lift each other up, pray for and love one another.

Proverbs 12:26 NLT – “The Godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.”

Proverbs 17:17 NLT – “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.”

So, as this pruning season is ongoing, there’s a whole other growing season of my life that is evolving from this amazing support system of friends that I’d have not known had it not been for my struggle, friends who are leading me even closer to God. I couldn’t be more thankful for this growing season that has began in my life.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, 4 NLT – “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.”

Of course I loved God during my past seasons, but admittedly, I did become “stagnant” at times. It’s embarrassing to admit – but I’m here to be transparent and completely honest. So there it is. Nope – I wasn’t growing in Christ. I wasn’t being “fruitful”. God knew it, and He knows when we’re being lax.. and I also know that He tries to get our attention. Over and over.. and over.  When we don’t listen and become His backseat driver (my case for a bit!), He certainly will get a bit louder. Yes, we have free will, but when we, as His sons and daughters, still don’t listen and decide we’ll try to help Him out, I feel that eventually He decides enough is enough and just grabs the wheel and makes something happen so we have no choice but to end up where He asked us to be. (At the time – that’s an “Ouch”; welcome to Pruning Season!). Even if we didn’t choose it, or want it – we’ll later realize it was for the best. I know that God protects us from things He sees down the road that He doesn’t choose for us, and we have to realize that God has had His hand all over the entire situation from beginning to end. This is true for any struggle, hardship or situation that is painful. Just hang tight – give it time – you’ll see the bigger picture.

John 15:2 NLT – “He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”

So, for all of us – it’s time to make an assessment of what you had before a trial, and what you have after a trial. Lay it all out there. Sure, like I said, initially it’s just a lot of hurt and questions to God, but after that, after you’ve asked God for peace and wisdom (and He freely gives it to you when you ask), you’ll see that what you have after a struggle is so much more precious and valuable than what you had before. I wouldn’t trade anything for the pruning and growing season God has blessed me with. With His stretching and pruning, I’m remaining in Him and fruit is being produced.

John 15:4 NLT – “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me.”

As the song by Hawk Nelson says “He’s Making Diamonds out of Dust” – yes, we’re initially the dust, but oh how we shine once we’re diamonds!!
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