What scripture do you have hanging around to remind you of God's plan? I recently took down a sheet I've had taped to the cupboard, over my sink where I've been reading/meditating/memorizing it for quite some time.
During that time there had been a battery of trials in our life, and I had been struggling to deal with them. I honestly really struggled the most with the hopelessness that comes from thinking this will go on forever and ever with no end... and no purpose.
It was while looking for help from God's Word using the keyword "trials", that I came across a very familiar passage. Often I am amazed how the Scripture is opened to me, in places I've been, read, and even memorized before. But new light shines, and my eyes open. I feel about as dumb as the men who walk the road to Emmaus must have felt when their eyes were opened to see Jesus was with them. So here's what I found (and printed and read daily for months):
James 1:2-8 Trials are PROFITABLE
"2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."
Sound familiar? I've read it a hundred times. But what got my attention was looking at it the way it was re-phrased in a popular paraphrase, The Message. (I consider these a valuable tool for getting perspective, but not a replacement for original Scripture)
vs. 2-4 paraphrased:
"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way."
Don't try and get out of anything prematurely? It made me realize that there is a real process here that would be cheated if I were to have it all easy. That there is something beautiful He is creating in me that would be incomplete if it all just stopped and went away. The picture I have in my mind is one of a butterfly, working its way out of a chrysalis, and how that struggle is actually important in forcing the blood flow out into the wings. If we were to touch a butterfly and "help" it out... we would destroy it. So I printed a picture of a butterfly and the verse, and put them above my sink, as a reminder of the purpose of the struggle.
Last summer Emma found a bunch of ugly, fuzzy worms in the weeds near my garden. We captured them in a jar, planning to identify them as I was just sure they were some kind of garden-munching pest... The jar was forgotten and when looked at again, they had all gone into little cocoons and there were lots of them! (don't mind the dirty pan in the background of the picture below, but it was the only one I had of the lil' wormies!)
It wasn't long before they began to hatch into lovely butterflies and the kids were able to watch the struggle from beginning to end. It was amazing! As was the process of letting them go. :)
"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly."