Hardships and Trials

God’s Favor–The Gift of Presence

If God’s favor meant great health, I’d missed it. If it meant worldly success, happiness, prestige and an expanding ministry, God had abandoned me. But if favor—if grace—meant a vivid revelation of my Father’s heart and a deepening intimacy with Him, then even as I lay in bed sick and fatigued, I rested squarely in my Daddy’s hands. Right where He wanted me to be.

Image of a light with quote from blog post

It just took me a while to see it, cherish it. In fact, it wasn’t until my body started to recover that I saw the precious gift God had given all those mornings months before.

Sometimes it takes a crisis—an illness, a tragedy, having one’s life tilted upside down—to grab hold of what really matters. In 2011, after a lifetime of great health and athleticism, after nearly two decades of walking closely with Jesus and two years of surrendering to His call, colitis knocked me flat. Shifted my identity and for a while, left me grasping for answers.

If I could no longer run, who was I?

If I couldn’t push through this physical obstacle, was I still a woman of strength? An overcomer?

Why would God allow this? I’d been serving Him, writing for Him, speaking for Him, but now I was reduced to a tired, thin woman who often couldn’t make it to the bathroom on time let alone serve outside the home. Wasn’t I more effective when well?

I was failing. I wasn’t using the gifts God had given me. I wasn’t tending to my family as I felt called to do. I hadn’t touched my keyboard in months and wasn’t sure I ever would again.

I wasn’t any good for the body of Christ. I wasn’t any good for my family.

This was an incredibly painful time. A period of refining and stripping. A year I will always remember. The time when, as I read my Bible each morning and I clung to God’s Word lovingly preserved through the ages, He drew me to Himself and held me close to His heart. Those moments between us, when all the rest of the world faded from view, are precious beyond what I can express.

… there’s nothing so precious, nothing that can soothe the heart, quite like being held by the One who knows and loves you most.

There’s nothing so precious, nothing that can soothe the heart, quite like being held by the One who knows and loves you most.

verse image of James 1:2 with a sunrise in the backgroundPerhaps this is, in part, what James meant when he said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds …” (James 1:2, NIV). Though in context, he’s referring to the joy of knowing God has a purpose in our pain. But this points to an even bigger truth–God loves us always. In our times of health and pain.

I’ve known joy. Not the momentary elation our world teaches us to chase after, but the deep, unyielding, persevering joy of knowing God, truly knowing Him, and being known by Him.

If favor is found in what I can do or the wealth I attain, if it’s found in prestige and accolades, I failed. And I’ll gladly fail again–to gain something much more enduring and fulfilling.

Time with Christ. To be held and to know His hands are strong and firm and ever-present, that’s joy. And that’s the greatest gift Christ died to give us—unhindered access to Himself. He’s always there, always reaching, always loving. But sometimes He needs to help us see that, rest in that. Sometimes that help comes through pain; a pain with the sweetest of dividends.

Let’s talk about this! When has God turned a difficult time into an enduring blessing? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

When life hits hard and we feel used up, it’s easy to think we’re somehow less valuable or perhaps overlooked by God. But our value is immutable, and we can live out our purpose in every season, if we choose. Join us for our next Wholly Loved Conference on January 20th hosted by Beautiful Savior in LaVista, NE to learn how to discover and live out your purpose.

Then, join us in February for our Bold and Brave Conference, hosted by St. Paul’s United Methodist in Papillion. You can check out all our conference dates and register HERE.

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