With tear filled eyes, and my soul wide open and my failures, fears, anger, disappointment, and pain exposed I started to rapidly fall. And in my falling I threw my hands up and asked “why”? “Why am on I on this tiny broken ship in the middle of a hostile sea with no chance of survival, no life jacket, no anchor? Surely, I will be swallowed and others will be hurt.” “Why have I never felt this lonely?” “Why do I feel slighted and the heaviness of injustice?” “Why do I feel completely abandoned?” “Why do I feel like a sitting duck waiting to be slaughtered.” “Why, why, why???” And in this moment- when I became completely helpless, I had no choice but to turn to the only source who would have answers. Then it came to me like a gentle nudge, “rejoice”. “Rejoice instead of becoming hopeless.” But why rejoice when everything is falling a part?
I recognized that in times of despair I seem to always have two options. Allow the difficulties I have faced to define me and engulf me or, take notes from my own history. Time and time again throughout my life I have been blessed through affliction. Most of the great things in life are hard and require overcoming. Talent is great- you either have it or you don’t but proven character is earned with blood, sweat, sacrifice, pushing the limits, falling down, getting bruises, performing consistency, and enduring over and over. Talent almost seems easy like cheating when you look at it through this lens.
I realized my own afflictions have produced endurance. The endurance that has forged my character, character that has instilled me with hope. Not a wish that gets begged into the air- but hope that comes from trusting God over and over and him never once letting me drown. What seems to be a curse or a death sentence then becomes a blessing when you are able look at affliction as an opportunity for God to show you his unwavering love.
This kind of hope makes room for joy. Anticipation of what is to come creeps in and possibilities and opportunities become bridges and doors where there were once roadblocks and frightening pitfalls. When frustration and doubt sneak their way into my mind I know it is ME- the co-creator of my life placing limitations on a limitless design. Joy then is not circumstantial. In other words, joy has not limited its accessibility to when circumstances are favorable and preferred. Rather it is conditioned like a trained muscle.