by Vera Christian
Earlier this year, I shared with our church family about how God was inviting me on a journey of growth through our adopted daughter, Anah. I praise Him for continuing to use this experience, along with our recent all-church Bible study, to shape my heart. May I share some of those thoughts?
First, He is teaching me how to lament. Honestly, I struggled with this. After all, isn’t the adoption of a child a reason to rejoice? Lament didn’t seem to fit. I did not know how to voice the hardships that came with Anah to the church family because everyone was so excited about it. So I just shoved it down, gritted my teeth, and plowed forward. But as I did so, I became more and more bitter, angry, and resentful. I didn’t feel like I could even bring my struggles to God, so I felt utterly alone.
That is why the lesson on lament in our study really opened my eyes. I knew that I felt sadness, but I didn’t know how to express it to the Lord. Through Pastor Kenny’s message, I was reminded that mourning my loss with Him is actually the way forward, for it allows me to grieve the past so that I would not stay stuck in a world that was no longer real. That gave me permission to be honest with God about my realities.
Another way God has met me through this Bible study was reorienting my understanding on suffering. Though I learned about the J-curve before, I needed that reminder once again. How often I wish to skip the dying part and jump to the glories of resurrection!
As I began bringing these honest feelings to God in my lament, an amazing thing is happening: not only can I see my reality but I am beginning to accept it. I’m not saying that I love my daily experience, for I still feel the sting, but He is starting the work of changing my perspective in the midst of it. It doesn’t change reality, but learning to die to myself so that I can embrace His direction for me brings with it a new understanding of joy, peace, and contentment. What a gift of His grace!
Learning to view each interaction with Anah one at a time through this lens has brought this truth down into the nitty-gritty detail of life, which is where transformation really happens. It is not on the mountaintop of a retreat but in the ordinary circumstances of life where He shapes our thinking, our actions, and our decisions. I may never experience death through martyrdom, but God provides me with opportunities to die in little ways. I praise Him that these deaths are likewise not in vain for it is through them that He forms His fruit in me. Thanks for the reminder, Jon. It came at just the right time.
Lastly, I am learning to hope in the Lord. Oh, how often I have simply desired to be free from this burden of caring for Anah! I have believed that if only things were different, then life would be better. However, Pastor Kevin’s message reminded me that this is a small, earthly hope. If I truly want to experience all of God’s blessings through Anah, I needed to fix my hope on God alone, not in a change in my circumstances.
I do need to lament and be honest about the life God has given me so that I can move forward. As I do so, I need to learn how to reframe my perspective in the ordinary moments of life so that I can respond to my hardships, even to the point of death, in a way that allows God to shape me in Christlikeness. But it is the hope of the glories to come that gives me the fuel to keep pressing forward, knowing that my struggles will not just end one day, but end spectacularly. This story is going to glorify God in ways I cannot imagine if I keep my eyes on Him and press forward in faith.
How is God transforming you? I’d love to hear! As we enter this Thanksgiving season, my heart is full—full of gratitude for His patience, grace and goodness, and full of gratitude for you, my church family. May we spur one another on to love and good deeds in the days to come.
by Vera Christian