Making It Through Tough Times…Together

Today’s Truth:  Trials and struggle aren’t for nothing. They produce endurance and a perfecting of our maturity and faith (James 1:2-6).

 

Here I am!

It’s been a little while since I last wrote, and for that, I apologize. You may have gained a clue from the title of this post as to why I seemingly dropped off the face of the earth! Yes, tough times—tough times, indeed.

I can’t get into the juicy details of the difficulties my family has faced over the past two months; if it involved just me, I would gladly share. But there are others’ reputations and privacy concerns at stake—maybe in future posts I can share more. What I can say is that the last two months around here have held some of the most intense, stressful, emotional, and terrifying circumstances I’ve ever faced in my life. There has been a battle waging over here, and we’re exhausted—emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Speaking for myself, I have endured many sleepless nights, as I’ve wrestled with what’s going on, begging God for help and wisdom. I’ve been trying hard to maintain my faith, evaluating where I’ve gone wrong and what I could have done better for my family. My husband, Mike, and I are both trying to be strong, to do the hard things that need to be done, and let me tell you, we’ve had days where we weren’t sure we’d survive, let alone claim victory over it.

But today, I can proclaim that we’re alive and well, and our family is in tact—we are a living testimony of God’s tender grace and mercy, united in struggle and faith. If I ever wondered what true hardship and struggle looked like, I get it now. If I ever doubted God’s ability to get us through tough times before, I no longer doubt. He’s amazing, outrageous, sovereign, and trustworthy—his ways are far above anything my wildest imagination could dream up! I can and do trust that he knows what’s best for us, even if what’s best hurts. And boy, has it hurt!

We’ve experienced conflict, hardship, and testing simultaneously with joy, excitement, and blessing! Current heartache, pain, and struggle is slowly being replaced with a future hope of health, healing, and new life. It’s not going to be easy, but God is with us—of this, I am sure. We all have a choice about how to respond to troubles and trials in life; we can run away or deny our part, or meet them head on. My husband and I chose the latter.

I’m also sure that my husband and I have grown older, and perhaps a little wiser, during these past two months. I know I have more gray hair! But even though this trial has been extremely stressful for both of us, we are making it through together. In fact, I would even dare to say that our marriage and love for each other is stronger than it has been in years. It’s true that adversity and difficult circumstances hit many couples and families; it’s a regular part of life! But it’s also true that many couples don’t make it—their marriages fall apart at the weaker seams. I want to share a few things about why I think our marriage has not only survived, but thrived, with the hope that if trouble comes your way, you (and your husband) will make it through, too.

Five Reasons Why We’re Thriving and Surviving

  1. Jesus is our foundation—period. I know, I know, that sounds preachy, but when I strip it all down and come to the one thing that has gotten us through this, our faith in Christ has allowed our household to stand. The Bible stresses in many places why faith in God is paramount for making it through tough times. Matthew 7:24-25 says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.” Everyone, refers to those who believe that Jesus is who he says he is and acts in faith, and the rock (petra), means foundation or bedrock, that is Jesus (1 Cor. 10:4, 1 Cor. 3:1-11; see also, Luke 6:47-49). 
  2. We have freely admitted that we don’t have all the answers, but we know the One who does. There have been countless times when we have been on our knees in prayer, asking God to show us what the “wise” thing is to do; what the “loving” thing is to do; what the “obedient” thing is to do, (even though obeying is really, really hard!). We’ve also had to pray for strength and courage to do the hard things, rather than to succumb to the temptation to do nothing. Doing nothing is easy; doing the hard thing is where growth occurs. James 1:2-6 says, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”
  3. We have an unbelievable church, family, and many friends who have come around us, supporting us in prayer, encouragement, and hope. Our wonderful friends have given us perspective and truth in areas we haven’t been able to see clearly; they’ve propped us back up when we’ve felt faint or weak; they’ve given us hope and a new outlook; and, they have given us things to smile and laugh about. Isn’t that what having a community is about? I’ve been amazed at the lack of judgment we are receiving. There are those that may be judging, but perhaps we are being protected from perceiving it! Thank you to each and every one of you; we are very, very grateful!
  4. We are able to see that we’re in this thing together. We’ve identified the real enemy in this, and it’s neither Mike or myself. We are a team and have a team approach about how to get through this thing victoriously. We are trying to learn every lesson we can; we’re becoming experts at new things we’ve never explored before; and, we’re spending as much time together as we can—talking, praying, laughing, cooking together, taking walks, holding each other in night…we’re blessed, pure and simple. We know that the real enemy is fighting for the souls of our children, and we’re certain he has picked the wrong family to mess with! (1 Peter 5:6-10)
  5. We’re focused on loving the people involved, not protecting our own self images or reputations. We recognize there is a lot at stake, but isn’t loving people where they’re at what we’re really called to do as Christians? Believe me, it would be very easy to give in to self-pity, defensiveness, and embarrassment—to just check out of life and move on; quit everything, give up, and go home. But our love of self and our own plans must take a back seat, at least for now, and we’re ok with it! God calls us to love the sick, not the healthy, and we’re needed here. So we’ll obey! (Matthew 9:12-13)

So there you have it—the situation without the story. I am going to do my very best to write each week, but I ask for forgiveness in advance if for some reason it doesn’t happen. If I look on the bright side, I should get some very good writing material from these experiences that I’ll happily share with you, of course!

I would love to hear from you all about how you and your husband have made it through tough times. We each have our own stories. Please leave a comment below, or e-mail me directly at jennifer@jenniferedwards.net.

I’m so thankful for you and may God bless your life.

 

Jennifer