September has always been my favorite month. I love the crisp, clear, blue-sky days. My husband and I have our Anniversary at the end of the month. Our daughter’s Birthday comes at mid-month. And then just 2 days later, my own Birthday falls.
But this year, I have faced this month with a kind of dread. It seems that everywhere we turn another disaster or catastrophe is waiting. My heart has been so burdened for this world. It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed in the weight of all this heartbreak and brokenness.
And then there is my own condition. My Rheumatologist agreed with me that my body is exhausted from all of the allergic reactions and side effects from the many medications we have tried. So, we are not pursuing any other new treatments right now, and I am very appreciative of that! However, that leaves my RA minimally treated, with small flares keeping me awake most nights. Add in the pain of a stubborn occipital nerve that isn’t cooperating with its ablation, and some days I feel that I might jump out of my skin.
I recently was reminded of a blogger that I had read about in January 2016. She suffered from severe Ankylosing spondylitis, a disease in the same family as Rheumatoid Arthritis. When I first began to read parts of her story, I heard the Lord nudging me to begin my own blog. I tentatively dipped my toes into this writing space, and I purchased her book: Choose Joy, by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver. Her story was published after her death, put together by her dear friend. Reading her words of honesty about how she faced her disease touched me so deeply in my own early days of chronic illness.
But when I began re-reading her words this past week, I was astonished at how much has changed in my own life these past few years. My weakness loomed in front of me. I read about her choices to choose joy in the midst of the struggles, and I pondered the deep surrenders that God has taken me through also. But I heard His Spirit calling me deeper yet again.
I’ve learned (over and over) that being tough and being strong are two completely different things. I just had to stop being tough and start being strong to figure it out. Now I’m strong enough to live the life I’ve been given instead of the one I think I’m tough enough to make.Frankl, Sara. Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts (p. 162). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.
He is always bringing us into more Christ-like-ness in this life we are living. HIS life was lived in utter surrender to His Father. He never sugar-coated the facts, but was blazingly honest in His declarations of the pain that the world and He, Himself, would soon face.
And yet, His life was one of utter joy in the presence of His Father, and with those He loved. He fully displayed the joy of the Lord
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:2 NIV
It was His joy to bring us to the Father. He knew what His ultimate sacrifice would accomplish, and that filled Him with joy, even in the face of such deep sorrow.
Could I allow Him to bring that same joy to me? Could I allow Him to set HIS joy before me?
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.Ephesians 2:6-8 NIV
When that Scripture flowed through my heart, I knew the great gift He was bringing to me. What an honor we have been given, to show the riches of HIS grace in our lives.
Suddenly my Birthday took on a whole new meaning: I have been created to show the incomparable riches of His grace! Living that out has taken many forms throughout all of the changing seasons. But in this one season called today, my weakness and pain are the very opportunities where I have been allowed to display HIS strength in me.
When the pain rages, when the sorrow consumes, when the burdens weigh heavily, and when my days stretch endlessly, these are my places to abide in Christ’s strength for me. This is the season to let my words tell of His great love and mercy showering over my life, to be strong in His grace, in the midst of my own weakness.
You then, my son, (daughter) be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.2 Timothy 2:1 NIV
Are you feeling the weariness and brokenness of this season? He has grace for you today also.
His joy has not ended in this hard season. No, He is calling us all to follow Him and to find the gift of His grace more precious than ever.
Will you pray with me?
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for giving Yourself to bring us to the Father. Your gift of grace overwhelms us. We must confess that we are weary and worn in this world. We are mourning over the heartbreak that we see. Thank You for entering the pain with us. Thank You for calling us to Yourself today. We bow before You here and receive YOUR fresh grace. We want to display Your grace to those who are hurting in this world. We want to be Your beacon of JOY to those who have lost all hope. Thank You that You are still here with us in this season, just as You were with Your disciples all those years ago. And YOUR plans to bring us into Your glory and grace remain unchanged today.
In Your name, Jesus, we pray,
Thank you to so many friends who continually point me to Jesus, who lift my eyes up to the beauty of my Savior. My dear friend, Joy Lenton, just released a free ebook, Soul Shots: 31 Days of Pocket Wisdom for Your Hurting Heart. Her words brought such stirring in my heart to look for God’s gifts of beauty in our everyday moments. Find her book here at her website, Poetry Joy.
And my dear friend, Anna, sends me so many songs and Scriptures throughout the night seasons. They come at such times that only God could have planned. Last night as she sent this song below, her words of praise for His Creation all around us set my heart to ponder and listen for the words He was speaking to me for this post. May He bless your heart also as you pause with this simple and grace-filled Scripture Song: