One of the scriptures that comes to mind during my struggles is Romans 5:3-4:
knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
Verse 5 of this passage says “hope does not disappoint because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” There is a word that comes to mind when I read this, and that is endurance. To me, to endure means to get to the other side of something. In all of our tribulations, we can have a measure of peace and joy that comes from knowing that we will get to the other side if we keep moving. Just like a marathon runner who knows that he will reach the finish line if he just endures the pain. The pain is part of his process and he expects that it will push him to his limits.
I am convinced that I belong to a loving Father and have devoted my heart and life to his son Jesus Christ. This comfort goes beyond religious affiliations and gets to the heart of a personal relationship from my spirit to God’s.
When I’m troubled, it helps to know that I’m getting something out of it. That’s why I like this scripture because sometimes things are so bad everywhere you turn, it seems like an exercise in torture and that God doesn’t love you at all. These passages remind me to endure, persevere, and stay aware of my spiritual journey. Life is not always about money and things, (even though I heard a person say that money isn’t everything but it’s next to air). I am learning spiritual lessons along the way:
- things are not always as bad as they seem,
- if you wait, there’s a way out of bad circumstances
- and I’m learning to persevere
It can be an awfully long wait sometimes to reach the finish line.
So while I wait, and in spite of all that happens around me, I’m finding it’s important to find hope in the simple things in life. Hope doesn’t have to be found immediately but if I wait, I can FIND possibilities instead of dead ends.
Today, watching my three beautiful kids grow into adults is inspiring. Despite our loss of many acquaintances and friends, and the realization that many of our church sisters and brothers were not as close to us as we imagined, the Milton family is having a good time.
We’re getting reacquainted with relatives who had shied away, and no longer do we have to feel shame for the normal activities of our family. There was a time we would have had to hide that our son went to a prom, or had deep shame about our daughter having a baby before marriage (some may have encouraged us to kick her out) or been forced to hide that my son played football on the night of a church service (people might think it’s ok–it is).
Talk about unnecessary stress!
But now we’re free just to be the Milton Family as God made us.
I am learning that I can be hopeful, even when parts of my life are shaky and confusing. I know that “trouble don’t last always.” I look at my kids and the freedom they have now to discover who they are, try things, and learn about life. I used to fear that if I didn’t do everything the way my church said, my kids wouldn’t know God and it would be my fault as a parent for not “training” them.
In spite of all the past negativity and criticisms, my kids told me something beautiful —that they pray every day.
If you can identify with my journey, comment below.
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