I was sitting at the table this morning, eating my raisin bran and reading from my Christmas present "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp. It's one of those slow reads that work better when you take in a little bit at a time so you can spend a while turning it over in your brain and taking the words to heart. Hence the reason I haven't finished it yet, and it's been two months since Christmas.
Today's reading had a line in it that really struck me: "...and I know all our days are struggle and warfare (Job 14:14) and that the spirit-to-spirit combat I endlessly wage with Satan is this ferocious thrash for joy."
...this ferocious thrash for joy...
These words somehow managed to pierce through the pregnancy-induced fog that seems to surround the thinking part of my brain these days, and I almost couldn't believe how perfectly Ann has described this constant daily battle to see God's glory and grace in our fallen world. (Except that I know from reading her blog that she always seems to find the right way to put into words the way I feel about life.)
I find it particularly interesting to be reading about finding God's gifts even through the trials of life from Ann, while at the same time, the lesson I just worked on last night for our women's Bible study was talking about what we do when we can't explain what Jesus is doing. The study we're doing is Beth Moore's "Beloved Disciple", and it focuses on the disciple John. Last night's lesson looked at Jesus' crucifixion through his eyes, and she finished the chapter by asking if we would stay close to Jesus when He doesn't stop a tragedy, or if we will walk away from Him when it seems as if He is weak and defeated.
In earlier chapters, she talked about how God uses difficulties and assignments in our lives to teach us lessons, and that often, we don't learn all the lessons from those experiences until after we've gone through them and are able to look back on them and reflect.
Finding God's gifts and daily graces through the trials of life. God teaches us lessons through difficulties. Staying close to Jesus when things don't seem to make sense. All timely and essential reminders to me during this time in my life.
When I try to think about this pregnancy rationally, it feels like I'm being unfair to call it a "trial". It's not as if this is a time of extreme grief or sorrow or mental anguish (although the ridiculous amount of time it's taking me to put together a simple blog post might prove that last one is actually accurate). But I have to say it, I am not one of these women who just breezes through pregnancy and loves every minute of it. Those first 14 weeks of debilitating "morning" sickness and all-day nausea were a trial. I survived that first trimester only to have to face the reality of this steadily growing new life taking up all the space in my body that was previously reserved for my vital organs, which are now all being shoved up into my rib cage and making it difficult to both take a deep breath and eat a large meal in one sitting.
By golly, this counts as a trial for me.
But that's no excuse for me to just sit down and wallow in self-pity, which is why I am grateful for these reminders in Ann's book and in Beth's study. God's grace is here, in this daily "ferocious thrash for joy". It is in life's trials that we need to cling to Him even tighter. Little by little, day by day, He gives me the strength to keep going and persevere.
(And I'm really looking forward to the day when my hormones go back to normal, and I can drink coffee again, and I can put together a blog post in less than an hour... Yeesh...)