How do you tell a co-worker about the promotion you got when it was the one she was hoping for? Or that you’re getting married when she’s in the midst of a messy divorce? Or…fill in the blank.
I can remember seeing a dear friend who battled infertility approach me when I was pregnant…and my heart sank.
How do I tell her that I am actually pregnant with triplets, when she’s desperately praying for that plus sign to show up? Oh, so tough.
When Trials Come
I spent more than a dozen years as a single woman, longing to be married and have a family of my own. I went to countless bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and walked down more aisles than I can count in pretty dresses that were just a complement to the dress.
And then came the subsequent baby events: announcements, showers, births, meals, birthday parties. Etc.
Relationships were changed and altered.
As a single woman, with no end in sight, trusting God was hard. I couldn’t see His plan. I couldn’t know what He had in store for me. I hoped I knew. But, in reality, I didn’t.
I was tempted to try to make something happen – to try harder to do something, be somebody, meet someone. But I didn’t. I wanted to know that God was orchestrating my life events and to be patient with where He had me. (Of course I wasn’t just sitting back and waiting. That’s a story for another time, though.)
Let’s fast-forward a bit. I met the man. I married him. We have three children (albeit, unconventionally!). A dream life, right? I think so. I remember hoping for this life just a few short years ago (well, again, not the triplet part…that wasn’t on my radar at all.)
But being on the other side of the “longing and hoping” and now “enjoying and delighting” can sometimes be challenging as I recall the pain and heartache that came with the years of confusion:
How can I enjoy what God has blessed me with when others are walking through such trials?
Sometimes I want to burst with happiness. It’s as if my heart just grows and grows with love, and as each year passes it must continue to expand to make room for more love. More blessings. More happiness.
Yet, in the face of others’ struggles, I sometimes want to be quiet. To minimize my happiness. To downplay my contentment. To argue with God that I shouldn’t feel quite so blessed. (Crazy, right?!)
Rejoicing in His Gifts – All of Them
And then God is faithful to remind me again of the work He continued in me during those years. He used those longings to show me what trust looks like; He taught me compassion for others and empathy for pain. He showed me how to cry – and how to cry out to Him. And He taught me how to rejoice with others. (Habakkuk 3)
He used those years – they weren’t full of what I longed for but they were full of what He was doing. They were empty in my eyes, but they were so full of soul-victories.
And so I trust that He is doing this in others, too. As He used those around me and their happiness to stretch and grow my faith and trust and contentment and peace and deeply-rooted joy…He might choose to use my story to help others.
Rejoicing in Blessing
Being the recipient of tangible blessings and gifts we’ve longed for doesn’t mean we’re any more loved by Him than someone who has none of what they long for. It simply (or not so simply!) means He is blessing us in different ways. The trials I walked through are every bit as valuable to me as the three little sticky faces sitting at my table, and my tall, dark and handsome. Every bit as valuable.
I believe He wants us to enjoy His gifts – to rejoice in the ways He has blessed us. And to not be embarrassed of how He has done so! He is good in the valley and is good on the mountaintop! Wherever we find ourselves, we are called to rejoice with others. And wherever we find ourselves, we are called to rejoice.
Where do you find yourself currently – in a valley or on a mountaintop?