Warning - Sharp Curves Ahead (Responding to Life's Struggles)

Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay 





The curves ahead warning sign is a common sight when you live in the mountains. Often a suggested lowered speed limit is posted as well. If we heed this warning, we go through the curves at a slower pace, maybe get shifted around slightly, but nothing major happens - you get through it. However, God help the driver who does not heed the warning, for that person could be speeding into a world of hurt.

Life can send us into some sharp curves, where we find we have a choice:

     Do I respond to the warning signs by slowing my pace and focusing my attention; or,

     Do I react with a last minute veering, with the hope I won't careen off the road?

My hope is we would slow down and respond to the warning. However, in order to even see the warning signs, we must be intentionally present in this journey of life and not distracted by all the noise.

Life has thrown us some curves in the past couple of months. Things that caught me completely off guard required my attention. The enemy will do that, especially when he sees us diligently working to serve and fulfill a calling upon our lives. We are never told the life of service will be easy. If we look at Pauls' life, we see all sorts of trials he faced. In 2 Corinthians 11:16-33, Paul itemizes, even boasts, of flogging, imprisonment, being shipwrecked, sleeplessness, hunger, thirst, and being exposed in the cold.

Why would he boast of the things he considered weaknesses?

A little further, in 2 Corinthians 12, we learn that Paul was given a "thorn in his flesh" (v. 7), to keep him humble. Paul "pleaded with the Lord three times for it to leave me alone" (v.8), but thankfully the story doesn't end there with an unanswered prayer. Paul is answered in an unexpectedly beautiful way:

"'My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.' So I'll gladly spend my time bragging about my weaknesses so that Christ's power can rest on me. Therefore, I'm all right with weaknesses, insults, disasters, harassment, and stressful situations for the sake of Christ, because when I'm weak, then I'm strong" (2 Cor. 12:9-10).

We have hope in the knowledge that God will strengthen us for His work through our weaknesses and trials.

I want to make something very clear, before we go any further. I do not believe that God is a puppet master visiting life's calamities upon us. I believe God is good and gracious, and loves us enough to allow us the free will to make choices in this life. I believe the effects of our choices, the effects of the choices of others, and the influence of the evil one are behind the harsher times of life. Not that we or others purposely make choices that would cause intentional harm, but we are human, flawed and not omniscient. We miscommunicate. We have misunderstandings. Like a pebble tossed into a pond, our choices have a ripple effect. Yet, I believe our loving God does for us just what he did for Paul, he forges our character, determination, and even our purpose out of the fires of our experience.

Joseph of the Old Testament is another example of someone who encountered a lot of trouble in life. In Genesis we learn his brothers threw him into a cistern to die, and then changed their minds (thanks to Judah) and sold him into slavery (Gen. 37:24-28). As a slave in Egypt he was falsely accused and imprisoned (Gen. 39:11-23). However, Joseph's life was used to turn the story around and save not only his scheming, jealous and greedy brothers, but also their entire nation. Joseph said, " 'You planned something bad for me, but God produced something good from it, in order to save the lives of many people, just as he's doing today. Now, don't be afraid. I will take care of you and your children.' So he put them at ease and spoke reassuringly to them" (Gen. 50:20-21). 

God takes what is bad and turns it around not only for our good, but for the good of many others.

What good could possibly come from what you and I are going through right now?

First, let me speak into your life that whatever trials you are experiencing, you are validated in your feelings toward them. If you've read some of my other posts, you know I believe comparison to others is usually a joy stealer. While I've spoken that towards comparison of gifts, abilities, talents and experiences, we also should be wary of comparing our trials. The trials each of us face evoke emotions that are valid and real. We do ourselves a disservice to trivialize our emotional response to our struggles because another person's struggle may seem worse. If a comparison improves your perspective, that's wonderful, but if you start feeling even more guilty over your very real and valid feelings, stop comparing.

Rather than comparing and trying to deny or hide from our response, what if we embrace the emotions? When we embrace our present reality, we give ourselves grace and permission to feel and process our emotions. Prayer and journaling can be very powerful methods of processing. I find that confiding in a trusted friend, coach or counselor also helps tremendously, because having someone else's perspective can help us move forward, showing us possibilities and options we may not yet be able to see. We may or may not be able to change our current circumstances, but we can change our perspective, which can make a world of difference in how we respond to a situation. Embracing reality and shifting our perspective begins a healing process, which in turn leads to spiritual growth and maturity.

When I slow down and see the curves as part of the journey, rather than a hindrance, my perspective changes. I begin to ask questions:

     Am I exercising faith over fear?

    What can I learn from this experience?

     How can this experience help me grow in my faith and relationship with God?

     How can I use this experience and what I've learned to help others?

     How do I let go and let God?

Often it's the long, winding and curvy roads which have the most scenic route. There can be a certain beauty there, we just have to slow down and look for it in the midst of the journey. When we get to our destination, we can then look back with gratitude for having slowed down and traveled well through the curves. 

Give yourself grace and allow healing to begin. 

What steps can you take to embrace this season of your journey and the emotions that go with it? 

How can you be more intentional today in looking for the beauty of the journey while traveling through the curves?

Please share your responses below to inspire and encourage others.

Comments

  1. Laura your 'Warning Sharp Curves Ahead' hit me right where I am at in life right now. I will be thinking about your words and your questions as I face my own trials. It can be so easy to to start asking, 'Why God Why?' and to allow anger to percolate to the surface. I need to constantly remind myself that God is my only way through these trials. My anger needs to be directed to the author of lies not God. The deceiver is not going to win this battle. God is my refuge!

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    Replies
    1. My prayers are with you as you face these trials. God is the only way, and I believe it's important to recognize that often His
      work is most evident in the people He places in our lives, who pour love and care into us, on the good days and the not so good ones. May you be surrounded by those who will love and care for you, and may you always feel God's comforting presence.

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This is a safe place for women who need encouragement and inspiration, where we can share our struggles and triumphs. Let us lift each other up, as well as honor and respect the individual journeys we are all traveling. Blog posts are from the journey I travel, which I hope will encourage and inspire you as you live your own adventure.

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