Thursday, November 29, 2018

Through All Seasons

1It was like a dream come true
when you freed us from our bondage and brought us back to Zion!
2We laughed and laughed and overflowed with gladness.
We were left shouting for joy and singing your praise.
All the nations saw it and joined in, saying,
“The Lord has done great miracles for them!”
3Yes, he did mighty miracles and we are overjoyed!
4Now, Lord, do it again! Restore us to our former glory!
May streams of your refreshing flow over us
until our dry hearts are drenched again.
5Those who sow their tears as seeds
will reap a harvest with joyful shouts of glee.
6They may weep as they go out carrying their seed to sow,
but they will return with joyful laughter and shouting with gladness
as they bring back armloads of blessing and a harvest overflowing!
- Psalm 126, The Passion Translation

To say that we are grateful for all God has done would be an understatement. Sometimes we look around and think, "Can this really be our life?" Over the past few years, the Lord has taught me about the value of seasons. We often fall into two camps: we take our current season for granted because it is truly wonderful, or we loathe our current season and idealize the next one. As you can read in my book, Already ChosenGod has taught me a lot about what it means to walk with Him through seasons of longing.

Throughout this entire journey through infertility and health issues, the Lord has reminded me of the beauty of seasons. Psalm 126 is one that kept coming to mind as I thought about all that we walked through in the last couple years. We are a frail people, and we want to live in seasons of abundance and obvious blessing all the time. But God just doesn't work that way. Seasons are important and vital to God's ways and plans for the earth and for our lives.

Over and over again, the Lord reminded me of the promise in Psalm 126: "Those who sow their tears as seeds will reap a harvest with joyful shouts of glee. They may weep as they go out carrying their seed to sow, but they will return with joyful laughter and shouting with gladness as they bring back armloads of blessing and a harvest overflowing!" You see friends, God works with intentionality and order. He does not leave our lives to chance and luck. He orchestrates every detail of our lives and knows our every longing. He knows when we will be ready for each season. He knows exactly what we need.

We cannot expect to see snow in summer or spring rains in fall. But we can know that God's unchanging love is with us through all seasons. He is our only constant through all of life's ever-changing tides. It is easy for us to desire the ease and happy go lucky emotions that summer usually brings. But the reality is that life ebbs and flows. There are winter seasons full of death and darkness, and they are not without purpose. In fact, they can be the most beautiful of all. And our circumstances, life stages, and God's timing all dictate how we experience various seasons in our lives.

The difficulty we experienced with conceiving marked one of the darkest seasons of our lives. And yet God was still good. We still had a roof over our heads, good jobs, and a loving community of family and friends. But there were days when I didn't want to get out of bed. There were days where I repeatedly hit the "unfollow" button on social media to protect and guard my ever so fragile heart. But underneath the doubt, questioning, and longing, there was a mustard seed of faith. I never wanted to give up on God. I never believed that He wouldn't bless us with a biological child. I just didn't know how long it was going to take. I know that there are many women who have walked through years of infertility who get to a point where they say, "Enough is enough. I can't do this anymore." And in a way, I did get to that point. I didn't want to use ovulation kits anymore. I was tired of charting every symptom and had long since given up taking my temperature every morning. But I wasn't ready to give up hope. Where else would I go and what would I have left if I walked away from Him?

Psalm 34:1,4-5 says, "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth... I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed." During this time, I had to make the difficult choice to praise the Lord when I wanted to curse Him (although I did my fair share of that too). I asked Him to help me love Him and feel His nearness when everything seemed like it was caving in all around me. I didn't experience any tangible feelings of warm fuzzies. But I did have a deep knowing and understanding that I was not alone, even when I felt like completely isolated in my grief and pain. So I clung to the truth that those who place their hope in Him are not full of shame, but rather His light.

My hope was never meant to lie in the fulfillment of my dreams and longings. My joy and happiness are not meant to ebb and flow with the changing tides of each season. Yes, I am pregnant. And that is a good, good gift from my Heavenly Father. But if I were still trying to conceive and hoping for healing, God wouldn't be any less good. The fulfillment of this desire does not mean that my life is now perfect and I never have any problems at all. I still wake up with anxiety on my chest some days. I still cuss sometimes and think jealous thoughts. I still get mad at my husband for no good reason. And there are still things I want and parts of my life that I am not totally happy about.

But God. He's greater than all of my petty and fickle wanderings. He's kind enough to woo me to Him and help me desire Him even when things are (mostly) going well. And He's patient enough to humble me and remind me of my need for Him through all seasons.

If I had gotten pregnant when I wanted to, so many things about our lives would be different. We wouldn't have been able to take in our three kids this summer, and I wouldn't have seen His power and strength made perfect in my weakness. We probably wouldn't have moved to our new house, and we wouldn't be preparing to say yes to fostering again. So I think God knows a thing or two about timing. And it's about time I started trusting Him in the midst of the unknown in each area of my life. He's proven that He's worthy.

Yes, we are reaping a harvest right now. There were tear-stained journal pages and sleepless nights that have brought us to where we are. But I can tell you one thing that I know for sure. My God is faithful and true. He is kind. In my darkest moments, He did not leave me. In my questioning and doubt, He helped me understand that He actually means what He says. And even if I weren't pregnant right now, I could tell with abiding joy in my heart and a lump in my throat that He is good.

Encouraging Resources for Every Season:

Already Chosen: Loving Your Life in the Midst of Longing
Gracelaced: Discovering Timeless Truths Through Seasons of the Heart
The Broken Way: A Daring Path to the Abundant Life
Daring to Hope: Finding God's Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful
Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming Love

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