Since posting that update, I've really got to thinking about the truth of that passage and how much it nails what we've been dealing with in our lives. If you've been following our story (or read further back in this blog), you'll know that we've recently gone through a pretty rough valley with my back pain & surgery. I remember very clearly in the months leading up to the surgery (when I was the most miserable) asking God "why me? what did I do to deserve this." The answer that God kept giving me was "Trust me, I know what I'm doing."
Isn't it interesting how it's so easy to trust God when life is comfortable, and when things are going well. The real test of character (and here I'm going back to the verse) is whether we are able to trust God when life is difficult and when things are not going well. In my opinion, I didn't do anything to deserve what I went through, but God knew what I needed in order to prepare me to be able to serve as a missionary.
For us, it is true that suffering leads to endurance. For months I was surviving on 2 to 3 hours of sleep a night. Anyone who has done that for even a couple nights know how exhausting that can be. The only way that I could've endured that for months (and my family endured my misery) was that God gave us a supernatural endurance. And having to go through that endurance training did produce character.
God knew we weren't ready yet to be missionaries. He knew that we had some character development to undergo. Looking back over that time, we were forced to look to Him for a source of strength when our own failed. We learned that we can rely on Him to sustain us through the rough times. We also saw Him provide in some amazing ways. While I can't say that we "rejoiced in our suffering," we now see that God was more at work in our lives through that time than He ever has before. He was molding and shaping us into the servants who would be ready to serve on the mission field.
And that endurance & character have produced a new hope in our lives. Hope because He restored me to full health (which is an undeserved blessing). Hope because He has called us to serve in this exciting way through missionary aviation. Hope because we know we are walking in His will. Hope because we know that He is all-powerful and knows all the details of our lives & future.
God, thank you for knowing so much better than we do what is best for us. Mold us and use us for Your glory! Amen!